Genode OS Framework 15.11 released Nov 30, 2015

The primary focus of version 15.11 is the use of Genode as a desktop OS. It vastly improves the GUI and audio stacks, features the port of Intel KMS from Linux, extends the support for the USB Armory and Xilinx Zynq-7000, and introduces new file-system infrastructure such as a VFS server.

With the release version 15.11, we maintain our strong focus on making Genode fit for desktop computing. On that account, the release vastly improves the framework's GUI and audio stacks, introduces desktop-integration features like copy-and-paste and the ability to interactively configure all kinds of components including device drivers.

Speaking of device drivers, we are proud to announce the availability of the Intel KMS driver as a user-level component on Genode. This framebuffer driver allows us to drive multiple displays and switch screen resolutions on the fly. Thereby, it perfectly complements the main theme of the current release.

Besides the main focus on desktop computing, the release is not short of other areas of improvement. Xilinx Zynq-7000 has been added to the supported platforms, TrustZone on the USB Armory received a lot of attention, and a new VFS server makes Genode's file-system infrastructure much more flexible. Those and many more topics are covered by our detailed release documentation.

Meet us at FOSDEM 2016 Nov 30, 2015

The next FOSDEM will take place during January 30 - 31 in Brussels.

We look forward to the upcoming FOSDEM conference in Brussels, which is the worlds largest gathering of open-source and free- software enthusiasts. There will be literally hundreds of talks and lectures over the course of the weekend of January 30 - 31.

Following the tradition of the past years, FOSDEM will host a dedicated developer room for microkernel-related developments. This year, the developer room is organized by our friends of the HelenOS project. Of course, a developer room is filled with life only via active participation. Everyone is invited to contribute.

It goes without saying that Genode Labs will play an active role at FOSDEM. If you are interested in microkernels or free software in general, or would simply like to catch up, we encourage you to attend FOSDEM!

Genode coming to the RISC-V architecture Nov 30, 2015

During the summer months, we have successfully ported Genode to the RISC-V architecture.

When building secure systems, considerations have not only to be made about the software design, but also about the hardware the software is executed on. In the light of the ever more increasing hardware complexity and opaque features like Intel ME or the proprietary firmwares executed in the TrustZone of commodity ARM devices, the question of the trustworthiness of today's CPUs arises. This realization is where the RISC-V architecture came to our attention.

RISC-V aims at creating a completely open hardware architecture. It is complemented by the lowRISC project that targets the production of an open SoC using modern 45 nm or even 28 nm technology in the near future. The actual hardware implementation of RISCV-V, called Rocket chip, is provided by UC Berkely, implemented in a hardware construction language called Chisel, and can be synthesized for FPGAs.

During the summer months, we have successfully ported Genode to the RISC-V architecture. The port includes the base-hw kernel, the framework's basic components as well as the dynamic linker. Depending on the feedback from the community, we are planning to incorporate this line of work into the mainline development of Genode.

The Muen Separation Kernel as Genode base platform Oct 02, 2015

Thanks to the close collaboration with Codelabs, Genode now supports the Muen separation kernel as base platform.

Separation kernels represent the most extreme form of kernel architectures with respect to software complexity. Such kernels are designed to partition the underlying hardware platform into a static set of domains. In contrast to a microkernel, no dynamic management of resources is performed at runtime. Resources like memory and CPU time are assigned to the domains at system- integration time. On the one hand, the rigidity of this approach limits its application areas. On the other hand, it allows the kernel to become even less complex than a microkernel, and thereby aid its thorough evaluation or even its formal verification. This, in turn, makes separation kernels attractive in application areas with high-assurance requirements.

Most separation kernels are proprietary software. However, with Muen, there exists an open-source separation kernel for the x86 architecture. Muen is developed by Codelabs in Switzerland. Apart from being open source, it is unique because it is implemented in the SPARK programming language, which guarantees the absence of implementation bugs like buffer overflows or integer overflows.

Thanks to the close collaboration between the Muen developers and our team, the assurance of the Muen separation kernel can now be combined with the rich component infrastructure provided by Genode. From Genode's perspective, Muen is another architecture for our custom base-hw kernel. In fact, with Genode on Muen, a microkernel-based system is running within the static boundaries of one Muen partition. This way, the component isolation enforced by the base-hw kernel and the static isolation boundaries enforced by Muen form two lines of defense for protecting security-critical system functions from untrusted code sandboxed within a Genode subsystem.

Genode OS Framework 15.08 released Aug 31, 2015

Version 15.08 marks the starting point of Genode used as day-to-day operating system, which underlines the maturity and scalability of the framework. A further highlight is the ability to execute Genode on top of the Muen separation kernel.

Whereby the added support for the Muen separation is the flagship feature of Genode 15.08, the August release brings a vast number of improvements across the entire framework.

Motivated by our increasing use of Genode/NOVA as our day-to-day OS, we addressed long-standing shortcomings of the NOVA kernel with respect to its kernel-memory management. At the user-facing side, the GUI stack became more flexible and versatile, improving the interactive usability, introducing tools for monitoring the system behavior, and optimizing the graphics performance.

Furthermore, we enhanced the integration of VirtualBox with Genode/NOVA by adding audio input and output, enabling the dynamic resizing of guest OS windows, and supporting guest-provided mouse pointer shapes. These and many more improvements are covered by our detailed release documentation.

Celebrating Genode's 7th Anniversary Jul 24, 2015

Join our anniversary party at the river Elbe.

It has been 7 years since we officially published the first version of the Genode OS Framework. Like every year, we want to celebrate our anniversary together with you! Every year of our company's history was special. But this year, Genode has finally reached the point where we started using it as our regular day-to-day OS (see below). When we started our company, this was our dream. You can imagine our excitement about our dream having become true.

Let us get together to celebrate our past achievements and the many prospects that lay in front of us! Following the tradition of the past years, we invite you to a barbecue and campfire at the river Elbe (http://goo.gl/maps/C0luj - Google Maps) at the 25th of August, 6 pm near Drachenschänke in Dresden.

Please note the location that changed from last year!

We will accommodate you with a beautiful scenery at the river, a choice of beverages, grilled vegetarian or non-vegetarian food, and the company of the local operating-systems community. If you are going to attend, we would greatly appreciate a short note to info@genode-labs.com from you to ease our preparations.

Genode as day-to-day operating system Jul 24, 2015

Genode has reached the stability and performance needed to be used as a productive and enjoyable OS for daily computing work.

For several years, we have nourished the plan to eventually use Genode as our primary general-purpose operating system. Finally, during this year's Hack'n'Hike event in May, we laid the groundwork to move our daily computing routine from Linux to Genode, with me (Norman) playing the role of the guinea pig. The Hack'n'Hike took place at a magnificent place called "Turmvilla" in Bad Muskau. Hence, we picked Turmvilla as the codename for this undertaking.

Since the beginning of June, Norman is exclusively using a Genode-based operating system on his Lenovo ThinkPad laptop. The key ingredients to make this possible are the NOVA microhypervisor, VirtualBox, the Intel Wireless Stack, Rump-kernel-based file systems, and the Noux runtime. VirtualBox runs GNU/Linux (aka the "Rich OS") as guest OS, which is used for those applications that are not yet directly available on Genode. Thanks to the sophisticated integration features of VirtualBox, the rich OS world and the Genode world are able to interact in a very comfortable way. Noux is used to execute command-line-based GNU software such as coreutils, bash, and Vim directly on Genode. Thereby, it covers the fundamental needs with respect to managing and editing files.

We are happy to report that the system runs stable and fast enough to be productive and to enjoy the daily computing work. The transition was actually much smoother than expected. Given this overly positive experience, the other members of our team will likely follow the precedent very soon. For those of you who are eager to follow this line of development, the Turmvilla system scenario is discussed in more detail at GitHub.

As a word of warning, the current state should be considered as highly experimental. Once it reaches a state that is ready for a broader user base than us regular developers, we plan to publish a proper guide for using it.

Meet us at the Chaos Communication Camp in August Jul 24, 2015

The Chaos Communication Camp will take place during August 13 to 17 in Mildenberg.

Every four years, the Chaos Computer Club holds a hacker camp located at some place in the middle of nowhere. This year, the Chaos Communication Camp will take place during August 13 to 17 in Mildenberg in Brandenburg. A huge crowd of technology enthusiasts will gather to enjoy the company of creative people, learn about all kinds of technology, and work on their projects. Tickets for the event are still available until the end of July.

Among the attendees, there will be a few Genode developers such as Stefan Kalkowski and Norman. If you happen to attend the CCC camp and like to catch up with us, we'd be delighted to hear from you!

New book "Genode Foundations" May 29, 2015

The book "Genode Foundations" is available as a free download.

We are proud to announce a milestone in our history: A book that describes the Genode OS Framework in a holistic and comprehensive way. It equips the reader with a thorough understanding of the architecture, assists developers with the explanation of the development environment and system configuration, and provides a look under the hood of the framework. Furthermore, it contains the specification of the framework's programming interface.

The book "Genode Foundations" is ready to be downloaded at http://genode.org.

Combining Genode with the seL4 microkernel May 29, 2015

At the end of May, Genode reached a point that allows us to run simple Genode scenarios on the seL4 kernel.

Back in the newsletter of November 2014, we first mentioned the seL4 kernel. Now, we are excited to follow up on this topic.

The seL4 microkernel is the world's first operating-systems kernel that is formally verified to contain no implementation bugs. As its name suggests, it is a member of the L4 family of kernels. With the other family members it shares the fundamental construction principle to provide mechanisms but no policy. But it is the first kernel that applies this principle to the management of its own memory resources. It thereby solves a long-standing robustness and security concern of traditional L4 kernels. At the same time, seL4 is designed to scale well towards dynamic workloads.

Both the proven absence of implementation bugs and the sound concept of its kernel resource management make this kernel extremely valuable in application areas that ultimately depend on the correctness of the kernel under all circumstances.

In summer last year, after being proprietary technology for several years, seL4 was published as an open-source project.

Even though seL4 is designed to accommodate dynamic workloads, its existing user-level infrastructure is limited to static systems. This is where Genode comes into play. By enabling Genode to run on top of seL4, seL4 will eventually become able to execute all the dynamic application workloads that Genode provides.

At the end of May, we reached a point that allows us to run simple Genode scenarios on this kernel. While pursuing this line of work, we took the opportunity to thoroughly document our steps. The result are following three articles:

Building a simple root task from scratch

IPC and virtual memory

Porting the core component

The current state of development has already been incorporated into the main development of Genode and is featured in the official version 15.05.

Genode OS Framework 15.05 released May 26, 2015

For the first time, a Genode release is accompanied by a book. Further highlights of the current release are vast improvements of our base-hw kernel, preliminary support for the seL4 microkernel, new device-driver infrastructure, and plenty of new device drivers.

Genode 15.05, published on May 26, represents the most substantial release so far. Besides the already mentioned new documentation and the principle support for the seL4 kernel, it marks the feature completion of our custom kernel platform called base-hw, and comes with a completely redesigned infrastructure for user-level device drivers.

Genode's "hw" base platform enables the execution of Genode without a 3rd-party microkernel. With version 15.05, our kernel, originally designed for the ARM architecture, has become able to run on the 64-bit x86 architecture, it received support for kernel-protected capabilities, and its scheduler got much more flexible.

At the framework's architectural level, we took the chance to redesign the infrastructure for user-level device drivers. With this release, device drivers become subjected to rigid access control with respect to hardware resources. Along with this architectural change, there are massive improvements of the device driver support. There is a new AHCI driver, new audio drivers ported from OpenBSD, new SD-card drivers, added platform support for i.MX6, and support for message- signalled interrupts on x86-based machines.

A detailed description of all the improvements is provided by the release documentation.

Genode at FOSDEM 2015 Jan 14, 2015

With three talks, Genode will show a strong presence at this year's FOSDEM during 31 January - February 1 in Brussels. The talks will cover an introduction of Genode, our line of work regarding VirtualBox on NOVA, and Genode's evolving GUI architecture.

Keeping up with our tradition to participate in the worlds largest gathering of the open-source and free-software community, we are happy to announce three talks to be held by Norman Feske at FOSDEM 2015:

Sunday 12:00 - 12:25 Genode - OS security by design Security devroom (AW1.120)

Sunday 14:20 - 15:00 Transplantation of VirtualBox to the NOVA microhypervisor Virtualization devroom (UD2.120)

Sunday 15:30 - 16:15 Introducing a radically componentized GUI architecture Microkernel devroom (K.3.201)

More information about the talks (including abstracts) are available at the FOSDEM website.

postal address:

  Genode Labs GmbH
  Dammweg 2
  D-01097 Dresden

visiting address:

  Genode Labs GmbH
  Friedrichstr. 26
  D-01067 Dresden

phone:

  +49 351 3282613

email:

  info@genode-labs.com