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Linux devices: OK labs demo open virtualization

Open Kernel Labs (OK Labs) markets OKL4, a completely open source virtualizing microkernel originally developed at NICTA (National Information/Communication Technology, Australia), an Australian government-sponsored think tank. NICTA first supplied the microkernel (then known as "L4") to phone chip giant Qualcomm (story). OK Labs later supplied its commercialized OKL4 version to Toshiba for use in Toshiba's W47T phone, distributed by Japan's second-largest mobile carrier, KDDI.

OK Labs subsequently partnered with FST this summer, in a deal aimed at porting the FancyPants GUI stack directly to OKL4's POSIX-compliant real-time execution environment. However, the technology being showcased at the ARM devcon appears to be featuring two instances of FancyPants running under two instances of Linux, both running as guest OSes on the OKL4 microkernel.

According to OK Labs, OKL4 provides virtualization, high performance IPC (inter-process communications), and support for user-level device drivers. These features are claimed to reduce handset costs, and to improve reliability and security with less impact on performance than similar approaches.

In a statement, OK Labs President Steve Subar said, "The OpenMoko smart phone makes obvious the benefits of how OKL4 is being deployed to decrease cost while improving functionality and performance."


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