OK:Linux

Mobile OEMs and ecosystem betting on Linux

Linux has emerged as an application OS of choice for a range of embedded applications, including mobile devices. The open-source OS responds to device OEM and ecosystem demands for the networking, file systems, and high-level application capabilities of blades and workstations for portability across architectures and scalability into a range of footprints and form factors. The choice of the royalty-free open-source OS comes also in response to cost pressure on mobile bill of materials (BOM) and to ever-increasing time-to-market pressure in the mobile marketplace.

Table stakes - hardware support

Device OEMs and Linux platform suppliers still need to put chips on the table to play on real hardware and deliver product to market. Although embedded Linux runs on the ARM architecture prevalent in mobile designs, device OEMs cannot bluff past the need to enable specific chipsets and peripherals. Moreover, the choice of Linux does not address the needs to run legacy software and preserve performance of legacy platforms, especially for baseband and multimedia processing.

OK:Linux - house advantage

In OK:Linux, General Dynamics Broadband supplies an OS support package for Linux operating systems, enabled for use as a guest of the OKL4 mobile virtualization platform. Starting with OK:Linux deals the high cards to device OEMs - mobile virtualization, componentization, and security.

OK:Linux is compatible with most Linux distributions. The use of OK:Linux with a compatible Linux distribution provides a standard Linux user environment where existing Linux applications and drivers run without modification, and new applications can be developed using standard open-source and commercial Linux development tools.

Using OKL4 and OK:Linux to host a Linux guest OS confers a range of benefits:

  • Linux applications can run on the same processor side-by-side with legacy applications and legacy OSes. Concurrent support for two OS environments eliminates the need for either multiprocessor hardware or porting the legacy system to the Linux OS
  • Through Secure HyperCell™ Technology, OKL4 native cells can complement the Linux virtual machine (VM) by providing an execution environment with better real-time properties and stronger security
  • OKL4 cells are well-suited to hosting real-time OSes, easing implementation of latency-sensitive functions without sacrificing the rich ecosystem support available for Linux

Challenges to deploying Linux

Linux is large - more than 40 million lines of code reside in the kernel.org source tree. OKL4 cells make it easier to meet security and certification requirements of key applications or subsystems by offering developers and integrators a much smaller trusted computing base than is possible for a Linux environment.

Linux is open - the openness and accompanying complexity of the Linux environment can increase risk of security exploits and reliability problems. Using the OKL4 Microvisor, Linux and applications can run in isolation from other software subsystems, helping device OEMs offer higher levels of security and reliability without having to provide a dedicated hardware execution environment.

High stakes — device drivers

Device drivers represent a wildcard in mobile designs - difficult to develop, they can be harder to maintain and migrate forward. Drivers can also present openings for security exploits. The OKL4 Microvisor makes drivers a safer bet by:

  • Offering an innovative device-driver approach with high-performance, sharable, isolated, user-level device drivers for improved reliability and security
  • Running device drivers at user level, and limiting privileged code to the OKL4 Microvisor
  • Supporting device drivers running in any guest OS

The OKL4 Microvisor creates systems that are easier to develop, easier to maintain, more secure, and more reliable. The OKL4 building block approach combines, connects, and manages VMs, native OKL4 subsystems, and device drivers. OK:Linux adds ready-to-use Linux VMs to the standard set of building blocks available to developers.

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