Genode Labs Newsletter - April / May 2020


 1. Genode OS Framework 20.05 released
 2. Genode as pass-through hypervisor running Android
 3. Our new take on broadening the ARM SoC support for Sculpt OS
 4. Excitement about the MNT Reform laptop

 1. Genode OS Framework 20.05 released

 Just yesterday, we published the version 20.05 of the Genode OS
 framework, bearing the fruit of our tireless optimization and
 consolidation work. Two architectural topics stand out most:

 First, after having presented the initial version of Sculpt OS
 on 64-bit ARM hardware in February, we further intensified our
 ARM-related developments. The release comes with new device-
 driver framework infrastructure that introduces fine-grained
 access control to device hardware and fosters the separation
 between driver mechanisms and platform-specific parametrization.
 Functionality-wise, we achieved the unification of the formerly
 distinct virtual machine monitors for 32-bit and 64-bit ARM.

 Second, the use of Linux as base platform has become much more
 tangible. Originally meant as a development vehicle only, this
 version of Genode used to lack the enforcement of fine-grained
 access control. However, thanks to the joint efforts with our
 friends at gapfruit AG, the new version revamps the low-level
 Linux-specific parts of the framework, sandboxes components
 via the seccomp mechanism and implements Genode's fine-grained
 object-capability model based of socket descriptors. This way,
 the use of Genode on Linux for production is no longer a pipe

 Regarding framework features, the most prominent topic is the
 feature completion of our custom block-level encryption
 component that we first introduced in Genode 19.11. The new
 version has become able to perform the cryptographic re-keying
 and the resizing of the virtual block device on the fly.

 Among the many further topics are the improved management of
 CPU affinities on x86, new tracing utilities, and the updated
 version of the Genode Foundations book, reflecting the changes
 of the framework since one year ago. All topics are covered
 in great detail by the official release documentation:


 2. Genode as pass-through hypervisor running Android

 To showcase the recently added virtualization features of
 Genode on the 64-bit ARM architecture, we created an exemplary
 scenario that uses Genode as a pass-through hypervisor for
 running Android on the NXP i.MX8M hardware. In this scenario,
 almost all devices are handed over to Android so that features
 like GPU-accelerated graphics are readily usable. Behind the
 back of Android, however, Genode retains the exclusive access
 to a few selected critical devices and is able to host regular
 Genode components. We publicly documented this line of work
 in the form of two articles.

 The first article covers the building of Android from source
 and the integration with Genode:


 The second article sheds light on a few unexpected obstacles
 we had to overcome to bring Android up in its full glory:


 3. Our new take on broadening the ARM SoC support for Sculpt OS

 We touched on the topic of the ARM SoC landscape from our
 perspective already in November:


 This article presented our line of reasoning behind putting our
 full focus on the presumably most open ARM SoC available, namely
 NXP i.MX. In the meantime, we got repeatedly approached by
 parties who expressed interest in more diversity, in particular
 interest in commodity mobile chips. It is beyond the capacity of
 Genode Labs to accommodate multiple SoCs with the same level of
 commitment. However, we figured that we can readily provide aid
 to others who are willing to commit to such work! To anticipate
 jointly carrying the SoC support by multiple shoulders, we started
 sharing our formerly company- internal recipes and experiences.
 We started off with an overview article:


 A second article goes into detail about the first step:


 The article series will eventually become a guidance document.
 If you are interested in the topic or even consider working on
 a platform port of Sculpt OS on your own, your feedback would
 be very valuable to us. Please do not hesitate to reach out!

 4. Excitement about the MNT Reform laptop

 One of the coolest open-hardware projects ever has started its
 crowd-funding campaign. We are speaking of the Reform laptop
 created by MNT Research in Berlin.


 You may ask why we're thinking so highly of this project?

 First, it embodies the ethos that drives us Genode developers,
 giving the users the ultimate control and confidence over their
 computing platform. Having a self-determined digital life
 instead of ever staying at the receiving end of mere consumer

 Second, the enthusiasm, playfulness, and - at the same time -
 professional attitude of project leader Lukas Hartmann is
 almost impossible to resist. Check out his twitter account
 with your own eyes.


 Third, the hardware choices taken by MNT Research are strangely
 consistent with our perspective. The Reform laptop is based on
 the very same SoC we have selected to focus on, namely NXP i.MX8.

 The goal is set to bring Sculpt OS to the Reform laptop!

 The crowd-funding campaign for the MNT Reform is open until
 mid of June. Visit the link above to learn more about this
 fantastic project.

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 Best regards

 Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske
 Genode Labs

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