1. The kaneton history
kaneton originated at the EPITA Computer System Laboratory as a pedagogical project in operating systems. The project was primarily designed by two students Julien Quintard and Jean-Pascal Billaud although many other people also contributed to the design and especially to the implementation.
Having recently contributed to the development of a microkernel based operating system called LSE/OS, the two students decided to begin the design and development of an operating system with a more powerful design and able to share resources on a large network. Nevertheless, the goal of this project remains to be a pedagogical one. For this reason, special interest was made on the design and on the implementation to be as simple as possible.
Moreover, the two students wanted to break some well-known kinds of computer sciences rules. Indeed, for example, many computer scientists consider that a project documentation is in fact its source code. Another example, for many low-level system programmers, the kernel boot source code and more generally the kernel source code cannot be understandable by everybody because too messy.
People tried, in kaneton, to write documentation for every part of the project. Moreover people tried to build a microkernel understandable by everyone interested in operating systems internals via an elegant and coherent design.
2. The kaneton goals
Many research projects in operating systems started with an existing system. For the kaneton microkernel project, people decided to design a totally new system. Indeed, the previous EPITA Computer System Laboratory projects in operating systems were not portable enough, so the kaneton people decided to design this new kernel from scratch with a special interest for the portability.
The kaneton microkernel was developed in a very specific way, to build a pedagogical project, with the clearest possible design to become an all easy-to-understand project including source code, design etc.
The kaneton microkernel will become the base of a distributed operating system. For this reason, the kaneton microkernel was designed to fit the distributed operating system requirements. For example, the kaneton microkernel includes modern distributed concepts like capabilities which open many ways to security, reliability, flexibility etc..
The kaneton source code is extremely clear and heavily commented which make the project easily maintainable.
Needless to say the kaneton project being a microkernel is extremely small and provides only fundamental functionalities.
Finally, the kaneton microkernel will be able to run UNIX programs via an emulation library. Nevertheless, the kaneton microkernel is not a UNIX clone and does not follow the system calls interface.
3. The kaneton architecture
Before describing the kaneton microkernel internals, it is useful first to outline the kind of hardware for which the system was designed.
The kaneton microkernel has been designed to deal with multiple architectures and heterogeneous systems.
Since kaneton portability system was designed not to be intrusive, the microkernel has no precise requirement. Nevertheless, the kaneton was not precisely designed for embedded systems because everything is dynamic in its core.