Monta Vista, the mobile and embedded Linux company, unveiled version 5.0 of its carrier-grade embedded Linux kernel this week.
The performance and security upgrades are yet another contribution from an infrastructure vendor to the continuing saga of upgrading the IP network in order for it to become the single standard for connectivity.
The carrier grade edition is used in switches, routers, IP multimedia subsystems as well as in base stations for both CDMA and GSM cellular networks by seven out of eight of the top equipment providers to the mobile carriers, according to Dan Cauchy , director of marketing for carrier and mobile at Monta Vista.
One of the key enhancements to the RTOS (Real Time Operating System) is a 50 microsecond preemption latency capability. In simpler terms, this means that when one task interrupts another task, the RTOS can identify which protocol has a higher priority. The kernel will then interrupt the lower priority protocol and switch to the other within 50 microseconds.
Cauchy says that the previous carrier edition, Version 4.0, achieved what he called an unprecedented six 9s availability. Version 5 availability is higher, but no official benchmark will be available until it is field tested.
"NTT Docomo ran over the last 18 months with less than 13 seconds of downtime," said Cauchy.
Cauchy believes the system has been made "more solid" by increasing the automated test bed to support more than 100,000 Linux tests.
"This makes it even more bug free than Version 4.0," said Cauchy.
A new debugging and diagnostics feature dubbed "predictive serviceability" has been added to monitor the system for possible failures.
Real-time application patching will allow network managers to apply a binary patch without rebooting the system. When the patch is deployed, the next time a function call engages that part of the system, it will branch to the new patch, said Cauchy.
An application called Field Safe Application Debugger will allow managers to log into the system live and apply trace points without halting the system or affecting live traffic.
Another new feature works in a similar vein to an airplane flight recorder. Like the black box, it allows a support person to get into the system after a crash and collect data. The data is written to a flash subsystem.
SELinux, developed by the NSA is now available for the first time. Up until now, Cauchy said, it was not mature enough to be considered commercial grade.
"It touches very low-level stuff in the kernel, and previously, it was too risky to do that," Cauchy said.
SELinux uses role based access control and has the ability to allow or deny policies to any component in the system.
Monta Vista Carrier Grade Linux Version 5 is expected to be available by the first of the year.