Santa Clara, Ca. – Embedded and mobile Linux provider MontaVista Software moved this week to solidify its position as one of the leading vendors of open source Linux on mobile and consumer devices with the release this week of the fifth generation of its Mobilinux operating system.
According to Jim Ready, CTO and founder of MontaVista Software, more than 35 million smartphones, cell phones, and other mobile devices run on MontaVista Mobilinux, far more than any other commercial Linux.
And with the new version of Mobilinux, he said, the company is doing everything it can to maintain and even widen that lead, with new features for improved power management, real-time performance, optimized execution, reduced footprint requirements, as well as many other features that allow customers to differentiate through the software stack.
In addition, to its proprietary programmable dynamic power management capabilities, said Ready, Mobilinux 5.0 also incorporates a powerful security framework.
Mobilinux supports Linux standards, so designers can add functionality by including off-the-shelf Linux utilities without worrying about function loss due to incompatibility.
Built-in support for emerging methods of connectivity and new I/O types (including a full-featured Linux networking stack) increase device functionality by enabling devices to communicate and interact with new types of software and other devices.
Ready said Mobilinux 5.0 is the first mobile operating system to include MontaVista's MicroSELinux, a miniaturized version of Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux), developed by the National Security Agency (NSA) to protect the integrity of system software, configuration information, and system logs.
“This enables a single Mobilinux device to be used by users with different security roles to access multiple kinds of information with different security levels,” he said.
The new version of Mobilinux, he said, includes APIs that extend battery life to support power-hungry multimedia. “In tests on a phone running a Texas Instruments OMAP 2430 processor,” said Ready, “MontaVista's unique power management played MP3 music five times as long as the same phone without MontaVista power management.
Mobilinux 5.0 provides out-of-the-box support for SDIO (Secure Digital Input Output), Wi-Lan/Wi-Fi over USB, Bluetooth over USB (supporting wireless headsets, headphones, and other items), USB On-The-Go, ALSA sound drivers, GStreamer, plus many new devices and the protocol stacks to support them.
As with earlier versions of the OS, said Ready, Mobilinux 5.0 is 100% native Linux with real-time performance features, including MontaVista enhancements plus integrated high resolution nanosecond timers (hrtimers) that avoid the compatibility and footprint headaches caused by double-kernel non-Linux add-ons.
Additional real-time features include fast mutexes, threaded soft and hard IRQ handlers, and application-level priority inheritance and queuing, providing latency as low as sub-50-microseconds.
The royalty-free, Mobilinux 5.0 supports both single-core and multicore processors, and supports devices built with multiple processing chips (such as phones using one baseband processor and one application processor) as well as devices that combine multiple processors on one integrated CPU chip.
Also new in Mobilinux 5.0, said Ready, is support for KGDB over USB. “This solves development problems caused because debuggers require serial ports, but phone miniaturization eliminated serial ports, forcing the creation of external test environments for all debugging,” he said.
The new feature allows a debugger to connect directly to a device's USB port, allowing debugging and tracing of both the kernel and applications to be done on the target device itself.
MontaVista Mobilinux 5.0 will be available worldwide in November 2007. Initial platforms supported will include OMAP 2430 from Texas Instruments, with OMAP 3430 following shortly. Additional platforms will be added in 2008.