MontaVista has released its latest mobile version of Linux, Mobilinux 4.0, based on the Linux 2.6 kernel.

The Mobilinux Program works with chip manufacturers, handset makers, and software developers to create a common architecture for a mobile Linux operating system to run on mobiles.

The great advantage of it, according to product manager Jacob Lehrbaum, is its ability to scale from the low-end to the high-end of the market. Alex Slawsby, a mobile analyst at IDC, said all the major vendors are rethinking their operating systems in order to broaden their reach.

Symbian, for example, made the latest version of its OS, Symbian 9, more modular so that vendors will be able to pick and choose the components they want for various handset models. Palmsource completed the acquisition of China MobileSoft this year ostensibly to give the company entry into the Asian market and to port a version of its OS on top of Linux, Slawsby said. "Linux is bigger in Asia than it is here," Slawsby said.

Mobilinux allows handset manufacturers to use a single processor for running both voice and software applications, reducing the build cost by a fifth, according to Lehrbaum, when compared to Symbian, Palm, or Microsoft OSes. "Mobilinux uses less memory and less flash and will use less battery power as well," he added. Mobilinux 4.0 will be available within the next month.