Sculpt is an open-source general-purpose OS based on the Genode framework. It combines a microkernel architecture, capability-based security, sandboxed device drivers, and hardware-virtualized guests in a novel operating system for commodity x86-64 hardware.
The third version of Sculpt OS is now available under codename Sculpt VC. It is based on Genode OS framework release 18.08. “Sculpt with Visual Composition” takes a step forward to turn Sculpt into a useable system for a wider audience. It features a graphical user interface for performing fundamental tasks like connecting to a wireless network, or installing and running software from packages. However, the full power of
the system is still accessible only via a textual interface. A detailed description of the usage and structure of Sculpt VC can be found in its documentation.
Sculpt VC is available in form of an USB stick image thats boots on bare metal x86 hardware. The image has a size of 24 MiB only. Alternatively, a virtual appliance for VirtualBox is provided.
This is an exciting release, and a big step on Genode’s road to usability as an everyday OS!
The progress of this project continues to be surprisingly fast. Just a few months ago, they released the first pre-built images in several years, which included a GUI front-end for several common management actions.
This release adds a really interesting and innovative new feature – the “Live Runtime View”, which is an interactive graphical diagram of the software components running on the system, showing some detailed information about each one and the relationships between them, and allowing the user to add and remove components on the fly.
There is also more software available for it than you might expect, since they have a POSIX compatibility layer and a Qt5 port (among others). The sample components include a couple of games, a Bash shell (called Noux), VirtualBox, a native Qt5 text editor and web browser (Arora), and two versions of virtualized Firefox (among other things).
Even if you don’t have time to read about the technical aspects of the Genode system, I highly recommend that you download either the USB stick image or VirtualBox appliance, and read (and follow along) through the “Getting a first impression” section, which is a quick tour of the GUI features.
I am always surprised that Genode doesn’t get more buzz, considering how robust the code is, and how professionally the project is run. But with the package management system in place on top of the increasingly mature Genode base, I think the conditions are ripe for a hobbyist ecosystem to pop up.