Collaboration with Barkhausen Institut Jul 23, 2021

In the scope of a joint innovation project together with the Barkhausen Institut, we will leverage the combination of Genode's component architecture with hardware-software co-design.

The Barkhausen Institut is an independent institute for systems research in Dresden. It follows the mission to bridge the gap between academic research at TU Dresden and industry.

In July, we kicked off a joint innovation project that combines the institute's expertise in the domain of software-defined radio with Genode's unique operating-system technology. In the scope of the project, we will expand Genode's notion of component- based architectures to software-hardware co-design. We believe that the blurring of the lines between hardware, operating-system software, and applications paves the ground for tailored solutions that are unthinkable today. Our initial focus is the enablement of Genode on widely available Xilinx-based FPGA platforms, specifically SDR devices.

The project is funded by Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Guidance for porting Genode to a new SoC Jun 01, 2021

Our new "Genode Platforms" documentation complements the existing Genode Foundations book with a wealth of hardware-related topics.

The porting of Genode to a new ARM SoC is a challenging under- taking that comes with a great deal of uncertainties, namely the inner functioning of overly complex hardware, picking appropriate tools and methodologies, taking informed decisions about porting versus developing drivers, and relating all this to Genode.

Combined, these uncertainties pose a huge barrier. At Genode Labs, we have conquered this barrier a few times in the past, like recently for supporting the NXP i.MX8 SoC. However, the porting of Genode to new hardware should not be left as an activity exclusive to Genode Labs. In order to assist developers outside of Genode's inner circle with joining the effort and help the proliferation of Genode across diverse SoCs, we decided to publicly share our know-how.

Over the past six months we have continuously published an article series called "Pine fun" on https://genodians.org that explains the process step by step. We have now curated the content of the accumulated articles into one coherent document called Genode Platforms (PDF).

Similar to the established "Genode Foundations" book that receives annual updates, it will be a living document, to be enhanced according reader feedback and further practical steps. The initial version already covers a wealth of architectural and methodical insights that were not publicly available before, ranging from bare-bone hardware enablement, over low-level debugging, kernel-code organization and porting, user-level device drivers, cascaded access control to device resources, up to custom assistive tooling.

Genode OS Framework 21.05 released May 31, 2021

Genode 21.05 introduces Webcam support and file encryption for Sculpt OS, switches the tool chain to GCC 10, and extends the arsenal of device drivers for i.MX8, Pine64, USB, and RISC-V.

End of May, we released the version 21.05 of the Genode OS Framework. This version puts the support for Webcams and file encryption into the spotlight. Both features benefit greatly from the framework's component architecture that fosters a precise separation of concerns, thereby bringing ease of use, high flexibility, and resilience under one hood.

Besides these prominent features, the release puts emphasis on device drivers and platform support. The topics are ranging from USB, over I2C on i.MX8, over GPIO on Pine-A64, to networking on RISC-V. Furthermore, the framework has become ready to use on top of 64-bit ARM Linux.

The new version is complemented by an updated tool chain based on GCC 10 and Binutils 2.36, profound performance optimizations, framework refinements, and new tooling for porting Linux drivers.

All the topics outlined above are covered in great detail by the official release documentation....

New Sculpt OS version 21.03 Mar 30, 2021

Sculpt OS 21.03 becomes resilient against classes of device-driver failures, introduces configurable real-time priorities, and adds interfaces for CPU-load balancing and screen capturing.

With our biannual releases of Sculpt OS, we make the most recent advances of Genode publicly available in the form of a general- purpose operating system that can be used on regular PC hardware. Just last week, we published Sculpt OS version 21.03.

This version allows for the interactive assignment of real-time priorities to components, it comes with numerous performance and usability improvements, and bears the first fruits of our new architecture for pluggable device drivers. Thanks to the latter, the system becomes tolerant against classes of driver-related failures. For example, Sculpt OS can now even gracefully recover from a crashing graphics driver.

An overview of these and further changes since the previous version is given in a dedicated article...

Genode OS Framework 21.02 release Mar 20, 2021

The user-visible features of Genode 21.02 that we released at the end of February are the addition of VirtualBox 6, mobile-data connectivity via LTE, pluggable network drivers, and initial support for the Pine-A64-LTS board.

Some of these topics have been in the works since a long time. For example, VirtualBox 6 is not merely an update of our existing port of VirtualBox 5 but a fresh re-take condensing years of experience.

The LTE and Pine-A64 topics are primarily motivated by our goal to use Genode on the Pinephone by the end of the year, thereby attaining a device that is usable, affordable, and trustworthy.

Other notable improvements range from added VirtIO-block device support for virtual machines on ARM, our revived developments for RISC-V, to VFS support for named pipes. You can find all the details presented in our comprehensive release documentation.

FOSDEM recordings of our pluggable-device-drivers talk Mar 10, 2021

Among the variety of topics presented at this year's microkernel developer room at FOSDEM, we presented our recent work on pluggable device drivers.

In the meantime, the recordings of the presentation have become available following link:

https://fosdem.org/2021/schedule/event/microkernel_pluggable_device_drivers_for_genode/

As explained and demonstrated during the talk, this architectural change paves the ground for a variety of desirable features such as resilience against flaky device drivers, self-healing systems, and rigid power management.

Thanks to the organizers of FOSDEM for pulling off the online version of our beloved gathering, and in particular to Martin Decky for organizing the virtual microkernel developer room along with the panel session that nicely wrapped up the event!

Road map for 2021 Jan 29, 2021

Our plan for 2021 is focused on development workflows, envisions Genode on the Pinephone, and addresses GPU support.

In mid of December, we kicked off our annual brainstorming about Genode's road map on our public mailing list. The response was delightful. The topics revolved around new platforms like Rockchip SoCs and the Pinephone, system tracing, DDE Linux, self-healing, Sculpt OS, RISC-V, seL4, Go language, i.MX8, GPUs, Qt5/QML, Goa, multi-monitor support, build systems, Ada/SPARK, MNT Reform, and many more areas of interest. Of course, we cannot thoroughly pursue all of these directions. During the discussion, however, a clear picture emerged.

Official road map: https://genode.org/about/road-map

First and most inspiring for many Genode developers, we envision the use of the Pinephone as a Genode-based feature phone by the end of the year. Since this will involve substantial device-driver-related developments, the team will take this line of work as an opportunity to advance the tooling and workflows for carrying out such tasks. This, in turn, will hopefully ease the on-boarding of new driver developers in the future.

Closely related to the Pinephone scenario, the project will make optimizations a top priority this year. The opportunities are plenty, ranging from micro-optimizations, over API refinements, to architectural changes if needed.

Another recurring topic is the request for GPU support, which is required by many modern workloads such as video conferencing or streaming on mobile device. Therefore, we will revamp our past developments of GPU multiplexing on Intel hardware while also starting the investigation of GPUs on ARM-based devices.

It is safe to say that an exciting year 2021 is ahead of us.

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