Genode Labs Newsletter - February / March 2014


 1. Genode OS Framework 14.02 released
 2. Our custom ARM kernel gains multi-processor support
 3. FOSDEM 2014 roundup

 1. Genode OS Framework 14.02 released

 With Genode 14.02 released end of February, we have made our port of
 VirtualBox to the NOVA microhypervisor publicly available. Thereby,
 Genode users have become able to combine the security benefits of
 microkernel technology with a product-grade virtualization solution
 that supports a wide range of guest operating systems including MS

 Besides the addition of VirtualBox, the work on version 14.02 was
 primarily focused on storage. Genode's block-level infrastructure was
 redesigned to use asynchronous communication, which clears the way
 to future performance optimizations. As a first step to address
 block-device performance, the new version features a new block cache
 component. At file-system level, the port of FUSE-based file systems
 has been extended to cover NTFS. Additionally, we added support for
 using a variety of NetBSD file systems, enabled by the use of so-
 called rump kernels.

 Among the many further improvements that come with the new version
 are a pseudo file system that allows the interactive use of Genode's
 tracing facilities via Unix commands, a profound unification of the
 various graphics back ends used throughout the framework, a new
 facility for propagating status reports, and improvements of the
 Noux runtime for executing Unix software on Genode.

 2. Our custom ARM kernel gains multi-processor support

 Our road map for 2014 envisions vast improvements of our custom
 kernel platform called base-hw with respect to virtualization,
 capability-based security, real-time scheduling, and multi-processor
 support. We are happy to report that the latter feature has just
 landed in the mainline version of Genode. On traditional L4 kernels,
 multi-processor support is a challenging topic. However, the design
 of our kernel largely deviates from the existing members of the L4
 kernel family by reducing the kernel to a mere library that is
 co-located with the user-level core process. By removing the line
 between kernel and user land, we can leverage Genode's user-level
 infrastructure to solve kernel problems that are extremely difficult
 to solve in self-sufficient classical L4 kernels, for example the
 in-kernel memory management.

 The ease of adding multi-processor support, which took us only about
 2 months, is just another example that reinforces the benefits of
 our approach. Instead of implementing complicated inter-processor
 protocols in the kernel, we solve typical kernel-level problems
 such as cross-processor TLB shootdown elegantly at user level.

 The base-hw multi-processor support is readily available at the
 current master branch of Genode:


 3. FOSDEM 2014 roundup

 FOSDEM 2014 has been great! Genode Labs attended in the form of
 Stefan, Alexander, Josef, and myself. We greatly enjoyed the
 atmosphere that is created when thousands of enthusiasts for Open
 Source and Free Software meet.

 The microkernel developer room was more diverse than last year.
 We particularly enjoyed the participation of people who are not
 in the inner circle of the microkernel developer community but
 pursue interests that somehow intersect with the problem space
 of microkernels. For example, Antti Kantee presented his work on
 NetBSD rump kernels and Michael Engel tried to give an inspiring
 wake-up call to rethink OS resource management.

 Genode Labs contributed two presentations to the microkernel
 developer room. Stefan shared his experiences with exploring ARM
 TrustZone technology and I gave an overview of our achievements
 towards general-purpose computing. Both talks were garnished with
 several live demos running on real hardware. The slides of both
 talks as well as a video recording of my talk are available here:


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 Best regards

 Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske
 Genode Labs

 http://www.genode-labs.com · http://genode.org

 Genode Labs GmbH · Amtsgericht Dresden · HRB 28424 · Sitz Dresden
 Geschäftsführer: Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske, Christian Helmuth

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