Sculpt for The Curious (TC) is the second incarnation of the general-purpose operating system pursued by the developers of the Genode OS Framework. It comes in the form of a ready-to-use system image that can be booted directly from a USB thumb drive. In contrast to earlier versions, Sculpt TC features a graphical user interface for the interactive management of storage devices and networking. The main administrative interface remains text-based. It allows the user to “sculpt” the system live into shape, and introspect the system’s state at any time.
The technological foundation of Sculpt is a combination of Genode’s microkernel architecture with capability-based security and virtualization. It does not resemble a POSIX system, rather it supports hosting POSIX and Unix software as an option. This way, security-critical components are not exposed to the complexities of POSIX while the system retains compatibility to existing applications. Sculpt TC features several examples of such applications, ranging from Qt-based software over a custom Unix runtime to VirtualBox.
The downloadable system image with the accompanied documentation is available at the Sculpt download page of the Genode project.
IMHO, the Sculpt TC release is a major turning point in Genode history. It is named appropriately – I highly recommend that anyone even remotely “curious” take these live images for a spin.
I played around with Sculpt EA (for “Early Adopters”; i.e. the 18.02 release from February), which was impressively advanced, but had a few limitations (hence the nickname).
For the “TC” release, they made a few major enhancements (in addition to the usual steady progress under the hood). For one, they expanded the hardware support significantly. They also added a graphical “Manager” panel to the “Leitzentrale” (Control Panel) screen, which automates several common tasks. (In general, everything is accomplished by editing text files.)
On top of that, they finally created live images, which means you no longer have to set up a build environment just to play around with the system. (FWIW, setting up a build environment is probably not a high barrier to many of us here – it is well documented, simple to install, and surprisingly robust for a “research” OS.)
There are two more releases planned in the “Year Of Sculpt”. I don’t know exactly what direction the UI will take, but I can’t wait to find out!
P.S. I don’t intend to sound like a salesman. I am just very impressed by the architectural design of Genode, how advanced the system is (considering it has flown under the radar), and their high quality standards.