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MontaVista Software
IndustryInternet, Software
FoundedMenlo Park, California (September 7, 1998)[1]
FounderJim Ready
ProductsMontaVista Linux

MontaVista DevRocket


OwnerPrivate equity investors
Number of employees
Over 250[2] (March 9, 2021)

MontaVista Software is a company that develops embedded Linux system software, development tools, and related software. Its products are made for other corporations developing embedded systems and end products using Linux, such as automotive electronics, telecommunications and communications equipment, mobile phones, and other electronic devices and infrastructure. MontaVista also supplies Linux-based solutions and software to products that are software-only, such as enterprise networking, virtual network functions in Network Functions Virtualization, and appliance software that is hosted on a cloud hosting environment.

Company Overview and History[edit]

Currently, since 2022, MontaVista is headquartered in San Jose, California, having main branch offices in Northern Europe, Japan, South Korea and India.

The company was founded in 1999 by James "Jim" Ready (an embedded software industry pioneer, formerly at Mentor Graphics and creator of Versatile Real-Time Executive (VRTX) among other leading products of their time).

MontaVista has since inception been focused on bringing real-time preemption into Linux and making Linux suitable for embedded usage. In the early years, MontaVista was also pioneering the Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) -initiative, and has followed the CGL-principles ever since.

On November 10, 2009 Cavium Networks acquired MontaVista, and the company operated as an independent entity and business unit within Cavium until 2018. At this time Cavium Network itself was acquired by Marvell Semiconductor and as part of the acquisition process, Montavista was again separated as an independent entity.[3]



MontaVista has been providing Linux-based products only throughout its lifetime. Because of this specific focus, the MontaVista engineering team has built a very specific skillset and expertise around the Linux operating system the GNU userland. This focus has been specifically around embedded Linux (the Pro, Mobilinux, CGE, MVL, and CGX) families, but since 2019 MontaVista has publicly been promoting also enterprise Linux, in the MVShield line of products.

MontaVista also provides professional services and customization across its product range, marketed as MVxPert, and security-specific packaged services sold as MVSecure. These services can be provided also on other Linux distributions beyond MontaVista Linux.

MontaVista Linux (formerly named Hard Hat Linux) is a Linux distribution that has been enhanced to become a full real-time operating system. The work on real-time performance has since continued to a point where MontaVista claims to support hard real-time tasks on embedded Linux as of MontaVista Linux Pro, Mobilinux and CGE 4.0, with response times as fast as other real-time operating systems.[4]

MontaVista sells subscriptions, which consist of software, documentation, and technical support. The software includes a Linux kernel and toolchain aimed at a specific hardware configuration, collectively called a Linux Support Package (LSP) or later a Market-Specific Distribution (MSD), and other integrated tools including the Eclipse-based DevRocket integrated development environment (IDE)[5] up until the CGX 2.4 product version when the IDE has not been delivered as part of the standard product.

Initially the Linux distribution was available in three editions, each aimed at a different market segment: Professional Edition, Carrier Grade Edition, and Mobilinux.[6] Later, since 2009, MontaVista has focused on building only one variant of the main MontaVista Linux product. Initially called carrying the name of Carrier Grade Edition and later renamed to Carrier Grade eXpress (CGX).

MontaVista's Linux products, Professional Edition (Pro), Mobilinux and CGE, were initially based on a binary build chain and delivered to customers as RPM packages with rebuilding capability.

However, since May 12, 2009, when MontaVista announced MontaVista Linux 6 (MVL6), MontaVista has been using a Yocto Project-like approach for building Linux products, initially based on bitbake and OpenEmbedded. It consists of Market Specific Distributions, the MontaVista Integration Platform, Software Development Kit, MontaVista Zone Content Server, and support and services.

There are several differences between the Yocto/OpenEmbedded-aligned MontaVista Linux versions and prior MontaVista Linux products. The main ones are:

  • Market Specific Distributions (MSD) – Linux operating systems (kernel + userland) optimized for each specific semiconductor vendor's hardware.
  • MontaVista Integration Platform – based on BitBake, analogous to make, which analyzes a set of directives and then builds a task dependency tree to satisfy a user command. BitBake then executes the defined tasks to completion.
  • MontaVista Zone Content Server – accessed from behind a proxy server, or local web mirror for offline operations, to fetch software and updates. Rather than depending on a mix of public HTTP, Concurrent Versions System (CVS), Git, and Subversion servers across the Internet, there is one source for each original source archive and patch.

The current, CGX line of products for Montavista Linux, are based on the Yocto Project principles of development, and as delivered to customers essentially resembling the freely available version of Yocto Project/Poky to facilitate ease reuse of expertise in Yocto Project -development.


Project OpenCGX is an open and free to use embedded Linux distribution, based on Yocto Project/Poky, from MontaVista Software LLC. OpenCGX is based on MontaVista's eleventh generation Carrier Grade Linux. Engineers can quickly jumpstart their ARM and x86 development with a full embedded Linux distribution that is easily customizable. OpenCGX in its introduction is based on Yocto 2.4 with Linux Kernel 4.14 (or latest LTS kernel) and GNU 7.2 toolchain.

Carrier Grade Express (CGX)[edit]

MontaVista Linux Carrier Grade eXpress (CGX) is MontaVista's main operating system product that provides a reliable, secure and serviceable Carrier Grade Linux with high flexibility and quality. CGX delivers a comprehensive platform that keeps up the latest requirements of smart devices such as application portability, dynamic configuration, field maintenance, and real-time performance.

MontaVista CGX approaches a wide range of applications and use cases from 5G networking, telecom, general embedded (medical, automotive, industrial) to Internet of Things (IoT) and Mil-Aero. CGX aims to make the product development procedure more cost- and time-efficient so that the client can fully concentrate on their value-add. In addition, CGX offers maintenance support for over 10 years to ensure long-term success for the customers.

MontaVista CGX complies with CGL spec version 5.0 with key criteria: Availability, Serviceability, Performance and Security, along with Clustering functionality, Standards support and Hardware-interfacing functionality. Furthermore, CGX has achieved Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level 4+ certification, which uniquely gives a security standard process to the end users when acquiring the product.


Custom Hardware Enablement[edit]

MontaVista can adapt your Linux product to fit your software and hardware environment. Whether this is Linux based on MontaVista products or an embedded Linux of customer choice. We can develop or validate a BSP for your custom hardware board and all its associated architecture, I/O, memory, storage, network capabilities, etc. This can quicken triaging of hardware and software problems that arise in development and deployment as the diagnosis is done on the specific hardware.

In addition, MontaVista can maintain updates (bug fixes and CVEs) on this custom hardware through our Board Maintenance Program (BMP), MVShield or MVXpert programs. It assures the updates have already been tested and vetted on the hardware.  Each of these services can be extended to integrate and maintain additional userland packages not offered in the standard Linux distribution (i.e. MontaVista CGX, Yocto, CentOS, etc.) MontaVista can assist by maintaining or uprevving these specific packages and running it through our robust QA on the customers specific hardware board.  

RTOS/Legacy Migration[edit]

For teams looking to move away from legacy products using a home grown or commercial real-time operating system (RTOS), migration can seem daunting. MontaVista can help make this transition less complex and tangible as we have worked with customers moving away from RTOS-based systems to Linux. MontaVista has achieved these migrations by reviewing different approaches:

Native Migration - Identify RTOS architecture, schedulers, compilers, and application differences to create the needed code changes

Virtualization - Execute the legacy RTOS applications in KVM or containers (Docker, LxC)

Adaptation - Aim to reuse core parts of your software investment by using adaptation layers, like Mono and Java

The MontaVista Linux toolkit also includes specific code libraries to easily migrate from Wind River Systems' VxWorks and the pSOS operating systems for legacy versions of the products.

System Certification[edit]

MontaVista Linux is being used in applications within IT and telecom that need to be certified according to Common Criteria, up to EAL4+ level. Evaluation Assurance Level 4+ (EAL4+) is commonly used to secure connectivity in critical environments, such as fire and police departments, or aviation and industry control systems. With the help of EAL4+ these critical environments can, for example, ensure secure and safe phone calls, control communication in-flight and for the assembly line, and achieve secure internet access.

Legacy products[edit]

Several legacy products are available from MontaVista under long-term support agreements.[7]


MontaVista Mobilinux is for wireless handsets and other mobile devices such as Global Positioning System (GPS) devices, portable medical devices, and wireless POS terminals. Mobilinux's key features include dynamic power management, real-time performance, fast booting, and small memory footprint.[8]

Professional Edition[edit]

MontaVista Professional Edition (Pro) is for general embedded Linux developers. Pro is for intelligent device markets, including networking and communications, instrumentation and control, aerospace and defense, small office/home office (SOHO) devices, and medical devices.[9] Future development of MontaVista Pro has been folded into MontaVista Linux, effectively ending this as a separate edition starting version 5.0.24.

Carrier Grade Edition[edit]

MontaVista Linux Carrier Grade Edition (CGE) is a commercial-grade Linux development platform for developers working with reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) managed hardware (Hardware Platform Interface) (HPI), Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) or custom hardware, who need long-term support and high availability.[10] Carrier Grade Linux is governed by the Linux Foundation CGL working group.


MontaVista DevRocket is a set of Eclipse plug-ins for facilitating application and system development with MontaVista Linux. DevRocket integrated development environment (IDE) runs on Linux, Solaris and Windows. It uses the Eclipse C++ Development Toolkit (CDT). Starting with DevRocket 5.0, users can add MontaVista's plug-ins into an existing Eclipse installation, or install Eclipse with the plugins already loaded.[5]

DevRocket is available in two varieties: a Platform Developer Kit (PDK) and Application Developer Kit (ADK). The Platform Developer Kit includes the ability to communicate with a target (RSE, SSH), create and manage file systems, debugging (kgdb), and performance tuning (memory leak, memory use, system profiling). The application developer kit includes a virtual target for developing applications earlier in the development cycle, one-click edit/compile/debug, and performance tuning.[11]

The current versions of Montavista Linux don't package the DevRocket tools suite, but can work together with Open-Source IDEs like Eclipse and the LinuxTools project.

Open source contributions[edit]

MontaVista has a history of being a major contributor to the Linux kernel and the open source community. From the start, Jim Ready said he wanted to make it "100% pure Linux" under the GPL.[12] The core changes to make MontaVista Linux into a real-time operating system were made by Nigel Gamble and later updated by Robert Love.[13] Robert Love submitted the changes to the Linux kernel in 2001. The Linux 2.6 stable kernel series is the first to include similar features, such as priority-based preemption. As of 2008, MontaVista had contributed 1.2% of the Linux kernel, making it the 9th-largest corporate contributor to the Linux kernel, according to a survey by the Linux Foundation.[14]

MontaVista has also spun off independent open source projects based on several of its features, including dynamic power management, high resolution POSIX timers, the pramfs file system,[15] and the openais implementation of the Service Availability Forum's (SA Forum) Application Interface Specification.[16]


Other versions of MontaVista Linux are used in devices made by a number of partners, including Sony Bravia TVs, NEC routers, and others, especially in Japan.[17] A version of MontaVista Linux OS is used in Dell Latitude E4200 and E4300 notebooks[18][19] to provide the Latitude ON feature.[20]

Cisco NX-OS is based on HardHat Linux.[21]

Mobile phones[edit]

Motorola became the first company to use Linux on a mobile phone when it released the Motorola A760 to the Chinese market on February 16, 2003. Motorola chose to use MontaVista Linux in the Motorola A760 and future Linux-based phones, despite the fact that Motorola was a founding member of the competing Symbian OS.[22] Since then, Motorola has increased focus on its Linux platform and publicly stated that the future platform for all its mid- and high-tier mobile phones will be Linux with Java,[23] and other phone manufacturers NEC and Panasonic have developed a common platform based on MontaVista Linux.[24][25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Watch, Wireless (October 18, 2004). "MontaVista claims realtime support for Linux mobile". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  2. ^ "MontaVista company profile". Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  3. ^ "MontaVista Software- Commercial Embedded Linux Solutions".
  4. ^ "MontaVista touts native hard real-time Linux". Archived from the original on September 4, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "MontaVista official DevRocket page". Archived from the original on January 5, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  6. ^ "MontaVista official Products page". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  7. ^ MontaVista, Product Lifecycle (March 10, 2021). "Product Lifecycle".
  8. ^ "MontaVista official Mobilinux details page". Archived from the original on January 14, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  9. ^ "MontaVista official Professional Edition details page". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  10. ^ "MontaVista official Carrier-Grade Edition details page". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  11. ^ "MontaVista's embedded Linux app dev tools go "all-plugin"". Archived from the original on September 6, 2012.
  12. ^ "An interview with MontaVista Founder Jim Ready". Archived from the original on January 28, 2013.
  13. ^ "Updated Linux kernel preemption patches". Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  14. ^ "Linux Kernel Development (April 2008)". Archived from the original on June 3, 2008.
  15. ^ " :: MontaVista Contributes to Open Source for CE Linux".
  16. ^ "About OpenAIS". Archived from the original on March 8, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  17. ^ "MontaVista beefs up Japan presence". Archived from the original on July 10, 2012.
  18. ^ "Newsroom". Dell. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  19. ^ Schwankert, Steven (October 22, 2008). "Instant-on Dell desktop to debut soon | Hardware". InfoWorld. Archived from the original on October 29, 2008. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  20. ^ "Latitude ON Launched Today |". September 29, 2009. Archived from the original on December 5, 2010. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
  21. ^ "Hacking NX-OS Part 3 | Maximum Entropy".
  22. ^ "Motorola discloses that its new A760 handset uses MontaVista Linux". Archived from the original on January 28, 2013.
  23. ^ Segan, Sascha (July 26, 2006). "Motorola Outlines Plans for RAZR Successor, The SCPL". PC Magazine. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  24. ^ "Linux powers DoCoMo's first 3.5G phone". Archived from the original on July 10, 2012.
  25. ^ "NEC and Panasonic form mobile phone development joint venture". Archived from the original on July 19, 2012.

External links[edit]