Linked by nfeske on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 08:30 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes The just released version 12.08 of the Genode OS Framework comes with the ability to run Genode-based systems on ARM hardware without an underlying kernel, vastly improves the support for the NOVA hypervisor, and adds device drivers for the OMAP4 SoC. Further functional additions are a FFAT-based file system service, the port of the lighttpd web server, and support for on-target debugging via GDB.
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RE[3]: Good Progress
by nfeske on Fri 24th Aug 2012 20:31 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Good Progress"
nfeske
Member since:
2009-05-27

Apparently, the redundancies between the microkernel and the first user-land component (mostly called root task) have been somehow overlooked for years now. Not just in the context of Genode but in multi-server OS projects in general. I guess the reason is that both kind of programs used to be developed by distinct groups of people. Boldly generalizing, I think that kernel developers love to stay in kernel land. Their view is somehow narrowed to the kernel API and hardly extend to a holistic system. On the other hand, user-land developers do not challenge kernel APIs too much (similar to how most software developers rarely question the hardware interfaces underneath their software).

Personally, I find the result of the base-hw experiment quite fascinating. It shows that dissolving the barrier between thinking in categories of kernel land and user land bears the opportunity for simplifying the overall architecture.

I share your observation about several of the base platforms. The motivation for keeping them around slightly differ from kernel to kernel. For Codezero, we are still hoping for a relaunch of the kernel as an Open-Source project. Pistachio is actually still maintained. For all of those kernels, there are also common reasons to not abandon them.

First, its beneficial for Genode's API design. Each kernel poses different challenges with regard to implementing the API. By accommodating a variety of kernel interfaces, we constantly reassure the portability of the framework and force ourself to find clean solutions that work across all of the kernels.

Second, having an arsenal of kernels at our disposal is just great for cross-correlating the behaviour of the system during debugging. Many bugs can be tracked down by just looking at the differences of executing the same scenario on different platforms. In fact, at Genode Labs we are constantly switching between the kernels including the ancient L4/Fiasco kernel. As a bonus, several of the kernels offer unique debugging features, which become pretty handy from time to time.

Third, maintaining support for an already supported base platform is cheap. It comes down to maintaining approximately 2000-3000 lines of code per kernel. For a kernel that won't move, the maintenance costs are almost zero (except for changes of the Genode API).

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