RealTime IT News

MontaVista Upgrades Mobile Linux OS

More than 35 million devices already run MontaVista Linux, but the embedded Linux vendor isn't resting. The company today announced Mobilinux version 5, its way of pushing Linux further into the embedded device space while staving off competitors.

Based on the Real-Time Linux-enhanced 2.6.21 kernel, Mobilinux 5 promises better security, performance and power consumption over previous versions.

Dan Cauchy, director of product marketing at MontaVista, told InternetNews.com that Real Time is "in MontaVista's blood" since it helped kick off some of the Real-Time Linux enhancements a few years back.

Making Linux more responsive and faster is a key theme throughout the Mobilinux 5 release. The Execute In Place (XIP) feature aims to improve the RAM footprint required to run the Linux kernel and applications. According to Cauchy, XIP allows developers to save quite a bit of RAM.

With the LOT Library Optimization Tool, MontaVista is aiming to further minimize size by stripping out unused and unnecessary elements from a project.

"So before you deploy your product you run this tool," and any code that includes unused libraries gets stripped, Cauchy said.

As a result of the optimizations in Mobilinux 5.0, Cauchy said mobile phones based on the OS would be able to boot in fewer than five seconds, which he argued is faster than either Microsoft-based phones or the Apple iPhone.

On the security side, Mobilinux 5.0 includes a mobile version of SELinux (security-enhanced Linux), which Cauchy said was an industry first. SELinux was first developed by the National Security Agency and enforces granular access controls on the Linux kernel based on user and application privileges.

Mobilinux version 5 is not entirely based on MontaVista's flagship Professional Linux 5, which came out earlier this year and itself is a change from the past development model. Mobilinux version 4 had been based on MontaVista Linux Professional 4.

Cauchy explained that the MontaVista Linux Pro 5 edition was based on the 2.6.18 Linux kernel, which MontaVista felt wouldn't be sufficient for the mobile industry.

In terms of what's next, Cauchy said MontaVista is already planning the Mobilinux 6.0 release and the focus will be around security.

"What we're looking at is more emphasis on security, as the issues around the iPhone brought to light some concerns that mobile phone makers hadn't considered," he said. "We'll be focusing on virtualization and isolation.

"What that means is you'll be able to have one virtualized isolated environment running your main OS that takes care of your keyboard and display," he added. "Then you'll have another isolated partition that will take care of the browser, so if you download malicious code, it won't disable the phone and turn it into a brick."