Fork of the Genode OS framework
You can not select more than 25 topics Topics must start with a letter or number, can include dashes ('-') and can be up to 35 characters long.

909 lines
44 KiB

Release notes for the Genode OS Framework 13.11
Genode Labs
Unlike most Genode releases, which address two or three major topics, version
13.11 brings plentiful new experimental features and improvements of details.
The experimental ground covered by the new release reaches from the use of the
Linux TCP/IP stack as user-level library, over the native use of Qt5 QML on
Genode, new FUSE-based file systems, to the exploration of C++11 for the
framework. In line with the previous releases, the new version extends the
coverage of device drivers, particularly for Exynos-5 SoCs and the Raspberry
Genode keeps steadily growing. With the code base approaching the number of
150 components and as many test cases, we are concerned to keep the code
orthogonal and void of bugs. Of course, automated testing helps a lot. But
even more importantly, we are constantly exploring possible ways to refine the
Genode API such that users of the framework are saved from writing
boiler-plate code, falling into C++ pitfalls, or solving complicated problems
again and again. One of those problems is lock-based synchronization, which
seems to be omni-present in low-level systems code, particularly on classical
L4-based systems. However, taking our existing components as use cases, we
came to the realization that for most of our system services, in particular
device drivers, multi-threading is more of a burden than a benefit. The
current framework API, however, imposes the need to use multiple threads on
many components that do not benefit from parallelism. This raises the question
of how we can evolve the API to become a better fit for typical use cases and
relieve the component developer from dealing with complicated synchronization
problems. We seek the answer to such questions through experimentation. The
new server API described in Section [New server API] and the use of this new
facility by components like the nitpicker GUI server is such an experiment.
For our mission to use Genode as a general-purpose OS, robust protocol stacks
such as file systems or networking stacks are fundamental. So we are exploring
different ways to bring existing implementations to Genode. For this release,
we took a closer look at FUSE as a provider for file systems. Section
[File systems based on FUSE] gives a brief overview of the results. For
networking, we undertook the challenge of turning the Linux TCP/IP stack into
a user-level library that can be used by Genode programs. Section
[Gigabit networking using the Linux TCP/IP stack] explains how this TCP/IP
stack can be used as an alternative to lwIP to improve gigabit-networking
The recently added support for Qt5-based applications raised repeated
questions about using QML, which is the most distinctive feature of Qt5
compared to Qt4. We are happy to report to have a positive answer to this
question with the inclusion of initial QML support. Even though the support
for QML is not mature yet, it is already possible to run the usual QML
examples on Genode. Section [Qt5 with support for OpenGL and QML] outlines the
steps for running simple QML applications.
With regard to the support for hardware platforms, version 13.11 comes with
extended driver support for Exynos-5 covering HDMI and USB 3.0 mass storage,
as well as all drivers needed to execute interactive Genode scenarios on the
Raspberry Pi. Furthermore, we enabled the use of ARM TrustZone on i.MX53 via
our custom base-hw kernel platform.
Base framework
Dynamic resource balancing
We have addressed the general problem of reassigning memory resources between
subsystems in a dynamic fashion. The Genode architecture devises the explicit
assignment of resources by a parent process to its children. Once assigned,
the amount of memory used to remain at the disposal of the respective child
subsystem until the subsystem gets destroyed by the parent.
Because Genode passes resources among processes along the branches of the
process tree, the parent interface is the natural place for providing a
protocol for dynamically upgrading and withdrawing resources between a parent
process and its children. The protocol consists of the following functions
that were added to the parent interface.
! void resource_avail_sigh(Signal_context_capability)
By calling this function, the child can install a custom signal handler that
gets notified on the arrival of additional resources. Such a signal gets
fired by the parent after upgrading the resource quota of the child.
! void resource_request(Resource_args const &)
Using this function, the child is able to apply for additional resources
at its parent. The request takes the amount of desired resources as argument.
A child would invoke this function if it detects scarceness of resources.
If a custom signal handler is installed via 'resource_avail_sigh', the
function returns immediately and the child must wait for the reception
of the corresponding signal. If no signal handler was explicitly installed,
the 'Genode::env()' handles the request via a built-in signal handler that
blocks until the parent satisfies the request.
! void yield_sigh(Signal_context_capability)
By calling this function, a child installs a signal handler that gets
notified about so-called yield requests from the parent. A parent issues
a yield request to a subsystem to express its wish for regaining resources.
It is up to the child to comply with a yield request or not. Some kinds
of subsystems have meaningful ways to handle yield requests. For example,
an in-memory block cache could write back the cached information and release
the RAM consumed by the cache.
! Resource_args yield_request()
The 'yield_request' function returns the amount of resources desired by the
parent. This information can be used by the child to tailor the resource
deallocation strategy according to the needs of the parent.
! void yield_response()
Once the child has taken steps to yield resources, it calls the
'yield_response' function to inform the parent about the availability of
released resources. The parent may respond to this function by withdrawing
those resources from the child's RAM quota.
The protocol described above has been implemented into the base system
(i.e., 'Genode::Parent', 'Genode::Child', 'Genode::env()') as well as
the interactive console called _cli_monitor_. For the latter, we introduced
new commands for dynamically balancing RAM between subsystems. The 'status'
command prints a table with the RAM status of each subsystem. The 'ram'
command changes the quota or a quota limit of a given subsystem. The quota
limit can be defined to allow the on-demand expansion of the quota. Finally,
the 'yield' command can be used to instruct a subsystem to yield a specified
amount of resources.
C++11 enabled by default
As more and more individual Genode components started using C++11 features,
it is time to enable the most recent C++ standard by default. This step
clears the way for using C++11 in the base API of the framework. There are
many ways we may leverage the new language features to improve our code,
for example variadic templates may help us to overcome current restrictions in
the RPC framework regarding the number of supported RPC function arguments.
The C++11 standard is enabled by default for software built via the Genode
build system. If you hit incompatibilities with existing software that
relies on a prior version of the C++ standard - as is the case for some
parts of Qt4 - you can override the default by manually defining
'CC_CXX_OPT_STD' in the build-description file of the offending target.
Improved event tracing
In the previous release, we introduced Genode's event tracing facility that
enables us to capture inter-process communication and component behavior
with negligible overhead. To make the mechanism usable in practice, an
easy-to-use front end is desired. With the current release, we have taken
the first steps in this direction. The front-end API is located at
_base/include/base/trace/buffer.h_. It hides the technical details of
how a trace buffer is realized behind a convenient interface for
iterating over events. Furthermore, we have added a mechanism for detecting
buffer wraps and expose this information through the API.
Thanks to this convenience API, the creation of custom trace monitors becomes
much more straight-forward. A simple trace-monitor implementation using the
new API can be found at _os/src/test/trace/_.
New support for bit sets in MMIO API
Genode's API for accessing MMIO registers helps a lot to simplify the
access to individual bits or consecutive bit fields of hardware registers.
However, we still stumbled over use cases that the current API does not
cover, particularly the access to bit fields that are not consecutive or even
distributed over multiple registers. For example, values of the HDMI
configuration of the Exynos-5 SoC are scattered over multiple hardware
registers. Hence, we extended the MMIO API to hide those peculiarities behind
an easy-to-use interface.
The idea is best illustrated by the following example of a hypothetical
timer device. The bits of the clock count value are scattered across
two hardware registers, the lower 6 bits of
the 16-bit-wide register 0x2, and two portions of the 32-bit-wide register
0x4. A declaration of those registers would look like this:
! struct Clock_2 : Register<0x2, 16>
! {
! struct Value : Bitfield<0, 6> { };
! };
! struct Clock_1 : Register<0x4, 32>
! {
! struct Value_2 : Bitfield<2, 13> { };
! struct Value_1 : Bitfield<18, 7> { };
! };
Writing a clock value needs consecutive write accesses to both registers
with bit shift operations applied to the value:
! write<Clock_1::Value_1>(clk);
! write<Clock_1::Value_2>(clk >> 7);
! write<Clock_2::Value>(clk >> 20);
The new 'Bitset_2' and 'Bitset_3' class templates contained in
_util/register.h_ allow the user to compose a logical bit field from 2 or 3
physical bit fields. The order of the template arguments expresses the order of
physical bits in the logical bit set. Each argument can be a register, a
bit field, or another bit set. The declaration of such a composed bit set for
the example above looks as follows:
! struct Clock : Bitset_3<Clock_1::Value_1,
! Clock_1::Value_2,
! Clock_2::Value> { };
With this declaration in place, the driver code becomes as simple as:
! write<Clock>(clk);
Under the hood, the MMIO framework performs all needed consecutive write
operations on the registers 0x2 and 0x4.
New utility for handling character buffers
Throughout Genode, we find manually instantiated char arrays and checks for
null-termination scattered throughout the code base, mostly in connection with
RPC functions. To avoid repetitions of such C-fashioned and bug-prone code, we
added a new 'String' template class to _util/string.h_. It plainly holds a
null-terminated string to be stored as a member variable (e.g., a session
label) or passed as RPC argument. The string class is not intended to become
a full-fledged string-handling API though.
Low-level OS infrastructure
Gigabit networking using the Linux TCP/IP stack
On Genode, we used to rely on lwIP as TCP/IP stack. Network-using applications
would simply link against the lwIP stack and our _libc_lwip_nic_dhcp_ plugin to
access a NIC session, as provided by a NIC driver. For using multiple
networking application on the same machine, there is a NIC bridge component,
which multiplexes one physical NIC to multiple virtual NICs.
While experimenting with gigabit networking, we discovered that lwIP lags far
behind the performance of other modern TCP/IP stacks such as the one found in
the Linux kernel. This observation prompted us to create an alternative to
lwIP, which uses the TCP/IP stack of the Linux kernel. The result is called
LXIP and can be found in the _dde_linux_ repository. LXIP consists of two
parts, a port of the Linux TCP/IP stack to Genode and glue code to Genode's
C runtime. It comes in the form of a shared libraries named _lxip.lib.so_ and
_libc_lxip.lib.so_. The IP stack can be interfaced using Genode's version of
libc by linking your application to the _libc_lxip_ plugin in your ''
From the application developer's point of view, the use of LXIP instead of
LwIP is as simple as replacing the 'libc_lwip_dhcp' library with the
'libc_lxip' library. Note however, that LXIP has larger memory demands
compared to lwIP. So quota adjustments may be needed. For a quick test drive
of LXIP, we have prepared a set of run scripts at _libports/run/_ that execute
netperf using LXIP in different settings. The _netperf_lxip.run_ script
connects netperf directly with a NIC driver, the _netperf_lxip_bridge.run_
script adds a NIC bridge as an indirection between the netperf application and
the driver, and the _netperf_lxip_usb30.run_ script targets a Gigabit
network-over-USB3 network adapter.
Configuration and session-label utilities
The often-used convenience utility for accessing a process configuration used
to come in the form of the header file _os/config.h_. But this causes aliasing
problems if multiple compilation units access the config while the
configuration gets dynamically updated. Moving the implementation of the
accessor to the singleton object into a library solves those problems.
Because of this change, all programs that rely on the 'Genode::config()'
utility need to have the 'config' library specified in the 'LIBS' declaration
of their _target.mk_ file.
Closely related to the process configuration, the utilities for handling
session labels have slightly changed. By splitting the former 'Session_policy'
into two classes, we make it more flexible. Originally, the constructor
solely accepted an args string, which made it unusable for situations where we
already had extracted the session label (e.g., stored in the session meta
data of a server). Now, the extraction of the label from the args string is
performed by the new 'Session_label' class instead, which, in turn, can be
passed to the constructor of 'Session_policy'. This change causes a minor API
change. The following code
! Session_policy policy(session_args);
must be turned into
! Session_label label(session_args);
! Session_policy policy(label);
Serialization of signal and RPC dispatching
In Genode, inter-process communication can be implemented synchronously
via RPC calls or asynchronously via signals. Most services use a combination
of both mechanisms. For example, a block driver provides an RPC interface
for querying the size of the block device. However, the actual transactions
are communicated via shared memory and asynchronous notifications to maximize
throughput. For this reason, most servers need to handle both, incoming RPCs
and signals.
RPCs are dispatched by special threads called RPC entrypoints whereas signals
can be waited-for by any thread, most commonly the main thread. Consequently,
RPC functions and signal dispatchers are executed in the contexts of different
threads. So access to the state shared by both signal handlers and RPC functions
must be synchronized. This synchronization can be performed by using locks.
However, lock-based synchronization is complicated and hard to test. For this
reason, we introduce an alternative mechanism to serialize signal handlers
with RPC functions by the means of the so-called 'Signal_rpc_dispatcher'
utility in _os/signal_rpc_dispatcher.h_. A signal RPC dispatcher acts as a
proxy, which delegates the handling of signals to the context of an RPC
entrypoint. This way, signals received by the main thread result in a
process-local RPC call to an RPC entrypoint, which is naturally serialized
with ordinary RPC calls. This way, both signals and RPCs are effectively
handled by the same thread, which alleviates the need for synchronization.
New server API
The new signal RPC dispatcher described above offers a glimpse into the
direction we want to see the Genode API evolve. Instead of handling
synchronous and asynchronous communication via different mechanisms, we
would like to streamline both into one solution. Right now, we have RPC
entrypoints for handling RPC requests and signal receivers for handling
signals. In the future, we would like to have just entrypoints, which
can be associated with both RPC objects and signal dispatchers.
Because we cannot change the Genode API over night, we take gradual
steps. One step is the new server library with the interface located
at 'os/server.h'. This library contains a skeleton for a common
single-threaded server that wants to respond to both incoming RPC
requests as well as signals. The interface provides a single 'Entrypoint'.
In contrast to an 'Rpc_entrypoint', a 'Server::Entrypoint' can be
associated to signal dispatchers.
Over the course of the next year, we will evaluate this idea by migrating
existing servers to the new API and refining the server library as needed.
If the new approach stands the test of time, we will possibly replace
parts of the existing Genode API with the much simpler 'Server::Entrypoint'
Nitpicker GUI server
The nitpicker GUI server is the first server adapted to the new server
API described above. Besides this change under the hood, nitpicker gained
the following functional improvements:
First and foremost, the use of the server API cleared the way to let
nitpicker respond to signals, particularly configuration changes at
runtime. The new version is able to immediately respond to such changes
including the definition of global keys, session colors, and the
background color.
Global keys for the X-ray and kill modes are no longer hard-coded.
The keys for toggling those functions can be defined in the nitpicker
configuration as follows:
! <config>
! <global-keys>
! <key name="KEY_SCROLLLOCK" operation="xray" />
! <key name="KEY_PRINT" operation="kill" />
! </global-keys>
! </config>
The '<global-keys>' node contains the policy for handling global keys. Each
'<key>' sub node expresses a rule for a named key. The 'operation' attribute
refers to nitpicker's built-in operations. In the example above, the X-ray
mode can be activated via the scroll-lock key and the kill mode can be
activated via the print key.
Alternatively to specifying an 'operation' attribute, a key node can contain
a 'label' attribute. If specified, all events regarding the key will be
reported to the client with the specified label. This enables clients to
handle global shortcuts. The client with the matching label will receive
all events until the number of concurrently pressed keys reaches zero.
This way, it is possible to handle chords of multiple keys starting with
the key specified in the '<key>' node. For the routing of global keys to
clients, the order of '<key>' nodes is important. If multiple nodes exists for
different labels, the first match will take effect. For example:
! <global-keys>
! <key name="KEY_F11" label="launchpad -> testnit" />
! <key name="KEY_F11" label="launchpad" />
! </global-keys>
The "launchpad" client will receive all key sequences starting with F11 unless
the "launchpad -> testnit" program is running. As soon as testnit gets started
by launchpad, testnit will receive the events. If the order was reversed,
launchpad would always receive the events.
Furthermore, the new version allows clients to dynamically allocate virtual
framebuffers during the lifetime of the session. This solves two problems:
First, it enables a client to create a connection to nitpicker without
donating much session quota in advance. The old interface required each
screen-size-dependent client to donate as much memory as needed to
allocate a screen-sized virtual framebuffer. For clients that are
interested in the screen size but cover just a small portion of the
screen (e.g., a banner, a menu, or an applet that sits in the screen
corner), this over-provisioning is painful. The new interface allows such
clients to upgrade the session quota for an existing session as needed.
Second, because each nitpicker session used to have a virtual frame
buffer with a fixed size over the lifetime of the session, a client that
wanted to implement a variable-sized window had to either vastly
over-provide resources (by opening a session as large as the screen just
in order to be prepared for the worst case of a maximized window), or it
had to replace the session by a new one (thereby discarding the stacking
order of the old views) each time the window changes its dimensions. The
new interface accommodates such clients much better.
New terminal services
The new file terminal located at _gems/src/server/file_terminal/_ is a service
that provides Genode's 'Terminal_session' interface for a given file via a
file-system session.
! <config>
! <policy label="client1" filename="test.txt" />
! <policy label="client2" filename="file.dat" io_buffer_size="4K"/>
! </config>
To keep things simple, a client can open only one file at the moment.
The new log terminal located at _os/src/server/log_terminal/_ forwards
terminal output to a LOG session.
New C-runtime plugin for accessing block devices
Certain third-party code, which mostly originates from POSIX-like systems,
uses normal file operations to access a block device from userspace , e.g.
fsck(8) or mkfs(8). For this reason, access to a block device by using
Genode's block-session interface through the normal C-runtime file operations
is needed. The solution comes in the form of the new _libc_block_ plugin. A
program linked against this plugin obtains access to a block-session by
opening the special device file "/dev/blkdev". Reading and writing from and to
the block session - even on offsets that are not aligned to the block
boundary - is handled by this plugin. For the actual program, the use of the
plugin is completely transparent.
New file-system server for hybrid Genode/Linux systems
So far, scenarios depending on file accesses via the file-system session
could not be run on Genode/Linux. But with the growing complexity of
software that is ported to the framework, the demand for a full-fledged
rapid-prototyping environment on Linux grows too. For example, our
former approach to load required files as ROM modules stretches its
limits with file sizes of several gigabytes. In the current release,
we added a file-system server that provides transparent access to
Linux files for Genode applications. As with other file-system
servers, 'lx_fs' can be configured to provide access to a specific
subdirectory tree of the current working directory via a 'root' policy
! <config>
! <policy label="client_1" root="/client_1_root" />
! <policy label="client_2" root="/client_2_root" />
! </config>
The provided service is comparable to "chrooting" a client.
Accesses outside of the tree are denied by the server. Like the common
practice with chroot, the client directory trees can be assembled by
linking files into the visible directory tree. As we do not depend on
hard links, the client tree may include links to entire sub-trees of
the host file system via symbolic links to directories. Note that the
current implementation does not support to create symlinks via the
file-system interface.
Block-session extended by sync call
We extended the block-session interface with the ability to indicate that
synchronization with the device is necessary. By now, all block device drivers
in Genode work fully synchronous. Hence, there was no need for an explicit
sync request by the client. When reworking block-device drivers to work
asynchronously to potentially increase the performance or when adding a block
cache component, the need for a synchronization call came up. Clients, like
for instance a file system, have to ensure that their data is written back to
the device at certain points of execution. The new 'sync()' call enables
block-server developers to implement their components asynchronously, while at
the same time account for the integrity needs of block-session clients.
Configurable NIC buffer sizes for lwIP-based applications
Whenever a network client opens a NIC-session, it has to provide buffers for
the receive/transmit (RX/TX) packet queues. By now, we've used relatively low
default values for dimensioning those buffers.
However, we identified that the demands by different applications vary a lot.
Applications that require high throughput need large buffers whereas
applications that issue sporadic network traffic can live with small buffers.
Therefore, we extended the lwIP library's initialization with the ability to
manually define the buffer sizes. Moreover, as lwIP is mostly used as network
backend for Genode's libc, we extended the libc lwip plugin with a proper
configuration option. To increase the default buffer sizes for a network
application, the following snippet can be added to its configuration section
! <libc rx_buf_size="1M" tx_buf_size="1M"/>
Support for recursive mutexes within the pthread library
As argued by one of the authors of the POSIX thread API,
[ - recursive mutexes are bad].
Until now, we happily got away with not supporting them in Genode's pthread
library. However, during our work on enabling QML on Genode, we hit the problem
of ported 3rd-party code relying on recursive-mutex acquisition, which
prompted us to finally implement the semantics as specified in the standard.
Device drivers
Raspberry Pi
We improved the platform support for the Raspberry Pi to a level where
Genode's graphical demo scenario works well on the Pi. This required
us to supplement device drivers for USB (for USB HID), Videocore mboxes
(power management and HDMI), and for the framebuffer.
The USB host-controller driver is ported from the official fork of the Linux
kernel for the Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately, it is not part of the normal Linux
kernel. For this reason, we need to download it separately. There exists a
'prepare_rpi' rule in the 'dde_linux/Makefile' to automate this process.
The Raspberry-Pi-specific platform driver is used to access the features
provided by the Videocore mboxes, i.e., power configuration and framebuffer
setup. The framebuffer driver uses the platform interface to setup a screen
mode of 1024x768.
The demo scenario at _os/run/demo.run_ can be executed on the Raspberry
Pi using the following steps:
* Download the USB driver
! make -C dde_linux prepare_rpi
* Download the C library (needed for setjmp/longjmp as used by the USB
! make -C libports prepare PKG=libc
* Create a build directory
! ./tool/create_builddir hw_rpi BUILD_DIR=build.rpi
* Change to the new build directory
! cd build.rpi
* Enable the _dde_linux_ and _libports_ repositories by uncommenting the
corresponding lines in your build directory's _etc/build.conf_ file.
Optionally, you may also enable parallelized building by adding the line
! MAKE += -j4
* Build the demo scenario
! make run/demo
* When the build process is finished, you can find the resulting ELF
image at _var/run/demo/image.elf_. There are multiple options to
boot the image on the Raspberry Pi, for example by using the u-boot
boot loader or using JTAG. The simplest way, however, is to put an image
directly on an SD-card. For doing so, prepare an SD-card with the
regular firmware for the Raspberry Pi as found in the official
Git repository at [].
The first boot stage is executed by the so-called Videocore GPU, which
fetches the boot code (called _bootcode.bin_) from the SD-card. At the
second stage, the boot code loads the actual OS kernel from the SD-card
(called _kernel.img_). Normally, this is the Linux kernel. To boot Genode
instead of Linux, we have to persuade the boot code to load our image
instead of the regular '_kernel.img_' file. Because the Raspberry Pi boot
code´ is not able to load ELF files, we first need to convert the Genode ELF
image to a raw binary using the _objcopy_ tool:
! /usr/local/genode-gcc/bin/genode-arm-objcopy -Obinary \
! var/run/demo/image.elf \
! genode.img
Finally, we have to tell the boot code to load our image instead of the
Linux kernel. This can be done by putting a simple _config.txt_ file
with the following content onto the SD-card:
! kernel=genode.img
! kernel_address=0x00800000
[image rpi_demo]
Live from this year's Genode Hack'n'Hike: the graphical Genode demo running
on the Raspberry Pi
Samsung Exynos 5
We extended the support for the Exynos-5 SoC with a new HDMI driver located at
_os/src/drivers/framebuffer/exynos5_ as well as support for USB 3.0 mass
storage. Thereby Genode reaches a pretty thorough driver coverage for the
Exynos-5 platform including SATA 3.0 and 2.0, USB 3.0, DVFS, eMMC,
networking, and HDMI.
To exercise those features, we have assembled an integrated system scenario
for the Exynos-5-based Arndale board. The run script is located at
_ports-foc/run/l4linux_dynamic.run_. It comes in two stages. At the first
stage, the user can interact with the system over UART using the terminal_mux
terminal multiplexer and a command-line interface. It is possible to start
multiple instances of L4Linux and assign different block devices to the
instances. It is also possible to run VIM using the Noux runtime environment
to edit files on a VFAT-formatted SATA disk. The second stage can be started
via the 'start graphical_demo'. It presents another instance of the
command-line interface. This instance allows the start of the GNU debugger or
the scout demo program.
Libraries and applications
Qt5 with support for OpenGL and QML
The inclusion of Qt5 in Genode 13.08 apparently spawned interest in using QML
as QML is widely regarded as the most important improvement of Qt5 compared
with Qt4. With the current release, we are happy to announce the principal
support for QML on Genode. The porting process was more elaborate than we
had hoped for. First, the V8 Javascript engine as used by QML comes with its
own platform abstraction (rather than building on top of Qt), which we had
to implement for Genode. While doing so, we needed to complement our POSIX
thread library to support recursive mutexes. Because QML relies on OpenGL, we
had to integrate Qt with Genode's port of Mesa, which implied work on our EGL
[image qt5_qml_samegame]
The QML based Qt5 example game called "samegame" running on Genode.
The QML support is still in an experimental state. It has been primarily
developed and tested on Genode/Linux on x86_64. We plan to enable QML for
the other Genode platforms and optimize performance during the upcoming
release cycle.
If you want to start experimenting with QML on Genode right away, here are
the basic steps for realizing a QML application:
# The easiest way to get started is using a copy of the
_libports/src/app/qt5/qt_quicktest_ as a template.
# _main.cpp_ creates a 'QQuickView' object, which loads the main QML file and
starts to kick off the interpreter. Here, you may customize the
name of the main QML file according to your needs.
# The Qt resource file _qt_quicktest.qrc_ contains QML files as well as
data files as referenced by the QML code (such as images or Javascript
files). All files required by your QML project must be listed here.
# A copy of the QMake project file _qt_quicktest.pro_ should be named after
your project and customized according to your changes of the qrc file.
Add further C++ sources and headers as needed.
# The Genode build description file _target.mk_ does not require any changes
as long as your project does not depend on libraries other than Qt.
# At _libports/run/qt5_quicktest.run_, you can find a suitable template for
a Genode run script. You might need to adapt at least the program name
and the RAM quota.
File systems based on FUSE
Besides a few special-purpose file systems (e.g., a RAM based file system and
the TAR archive file system), up to now, Genode supports merely one
general-purpose file system, namely FAT32, which is severely limited,
As one possible step to provide support for serious general purpose file
systems in Genode, we took a look at the FUSE API, created an experimental
implementation thereof, and ported _fuse-exfat_ and _fuse-ext2_ to Genode.
Since FUSE file systems implement file operations by using the actual path
as an argument, it was easy to write a wrapper of these operations in form of a
libc plugin called _libc_fuse_. By combing our FUSE implementation with the
original 'FUSE' file-system server code, accessing the file system in question
from a program has become possible. As Genode does not use the normal mount
mechanism employed by the original FUSE implementation, the start-up code,
normally implemented in the main routine of a FUSE file-system server, needs
to be provided by the FUSE file system port itself. The FUSE file system
uses the new _libc_block_ plugin described in Section
[New C-runtime plugin for accessing block devices] to direct requests
referring to a virtual Unix block device to a Genode block session.
For quickly trying out the new FUSE-based file systems, there are ready-to-use
run scripts located at _libports/run/libc_fuse_ext2.run_ and
_libc_fuse_exfat.run_ respectively. Before using those run scripts, make sure
to prepare the packages "exfat" and "fuse-ext2" as found in the _libports_
The launchpad demo application has been updated to use a more modern
configuration syntax and has its built-in default configuration removed.
Furthermore, launch entries have become able to supply configurations
to sub systems, either via a '<config>' sub node or a '<configfile>'
DosBox is a DOS emulator, which is primarily focused on running DOS games.
Because it is fun to play with, we used DosBox as a proof of concept to
demonstrate the ease of porting existing software to Genode and of course, we
like to play as well. A step-by-step tutorial of how to approach such porting
work will be published soon. For trying out DosBox on Genode, we added a
simple-to-use run script at _ports/run/dosbox.run_.
Mesa / EGL driver
Our work on QML required us to improve our EGL driver for Mesa. Among other
changes, we enabled the driver to let Mesa render into a user-provided buffer
instead of the screen. This can be achieved with the
'eglCreateWindowSurface()' function, which takes a buffer description as third
libSDL improvements
For porting DosBox, we had to extend and improve our libSDL port. The former
SDL_Timer implementation was too coarse. So we had to change it to a more
fine granular one. In addition, we enabled the SDL_CDROM dummy code and ported
SDL_net, which is needed for network support in DosBox.
Runtime environments
GNU Debugger
We improved the GDB support on Genode to cover advanced debugging features,
namely the 'set var' and 'call' commands. As those commands require the
debugger to modify the content of CPU registers of threads, we enhanced
Genode's 'Cpu_session::state' function such that it can do both obtain and
modify the state of a thread while the thread is paused.
To make the use of GDB for debugging Genode subsystems more comfortable, we
added a new command named "gdb" to Genode's command-line interface
(cli_monitor). This command works similarly to the "start" command, but
instead of starting the subsystem binary directly, an _init_ subsystem gets
started, which then starts _terminal_crosslink_, Noux, GDB and GDB monitor,
which, in turn, starts the application binary as its target. The "gdb" command
supports the following command line options:
:--ram: the initial RAM quota provided to the whole subsystem
(including the GDB-related components)
:--ram-limit: limit for expanding RAM quota
:--gdb-ram-preserve: the RAM quota that GDB monitor should preserve
for itself
For the "gdb" command to work, _terminal_crosslink_, _noux_, _gdb_monitor_ and
the file _gdb_command_config_ are expected to be present as ROM modules. The
GDB client needs to get mounted at _/bin_ in Noux and the target binaries
need to be available as ROM modules (loaded by GDB monitor) and also mounted
at _/gdb_ in Noux (loaded by the GDB client). Additionally, the source code of
the target application can be provided at _/gdb/src/_ to Noux to enable
source-level debugging. How the Noux mountings get established can be
configured in the _gdb_command_config_ file. The default configuration in
_os/src/server/cli_monitor/gdb_command_config_ mounts GDB from a tar archive
named _gdb.tar_, the GDB target binaries come from a tar archive named
'gdb_target.tar', and the target source code comes from a tar archive named
To simplify the assembly of such a scenario, the _ports/run/noux_gdb.inc_
include file provides functions that help to create the needed tar files:
:'create_gdb_tar': creates a tar archive for the GDB client
:'create_binary_tar': creates a tar archive for the target application
:'create_source_tar': creates a tar archive for the source code of
the target application
:'create_binary_and_source_tars': is a convenience wrapper for the previous
two functions
The integration of GDB with cli_monitor is exemplified by the run script
at _ports/run/noux_gdb_dynamic.run_.
Virtualization on NOVA
To ease the creation of custom virtual machine monitors on top of NOVA, we
added a set of generic utilities to the public include location
_ports/include/vmm_. As a nice side effect, this change simplifies the
Genode-specific code of the Seoul VMM. In the future, the VMM utilities
will ease the realization of alternative virtual-machine monitors on the NOVA
The Seoul VMM facilitates the co-location of the VMM and the guest OS within
the same protection domain to keep context-switching costs as low as possible.
However, this approach requires tight control over the virtual address space
of the VMM. In particular, the VMM must not interfere with the guest-physical
memory, which is always mapped at the lower part of the virtual address space.
Maintaining this condition is complicated. Relaxing this rigid scheme would
make our life much easier and would furthermore enable the use of shared
libraries for the VMM. For this reason, we explored the option of running the
guest OS in a distinct protection domain. This change does not only simplify
the VMM, but it also nearly doubles the maximum configurable guest-memory size
for a 32bit Genode/NOVA host system. The price for those benefits may be a
degraded performance. However, using basic benchmarks (e.g., compiling the
Linux kernel in a VM), we could hardly see negative effects. Co-location and
non-co-location can be set by Seoul's new 'colocate' configuration attribute.
ARM TrustZone
In Genode's release 12.11, we added experimental support for ARM TrustZone
technology, which principally enabled the execution of Genode in the so-called
secure world of TrustZone while executing Linux in the so-called normal world.
These experiments were conducted on ARM's Versatile express platform. With the
current release, we have added the i.MX53 SoC as additional platform to
experiment with its TrustZone aware devices. If you want to try out a very
basic example, starting a Linux instance running on the non-secure world
beside Genode running in the secure one, you can test the '' run
script on Versatile Express, i.MX53 Quickstart board, or i.MX53 SABRE tablet.
Execution on bare hardware (base-hw)
The development of Genode's custom kernel platform for the ARM architecture
goes full-steam ahead. The new version introduces a new way of using the
kernel's asynchronous notification mechanism to deliver page faults and
interrupts to the user land, yielding vastly simplified code - compared to the
classical (L4) approach of providing a page-fault protocol via synchronous
IPC. To better support real-time workloads, we enhanced the scheduler with
static priorities. Finally, we complemented the base-hw platform with the code
needed for process destruction. This way, we can execute dynamic workloads
such as Noux. Base-hw is still at an experimental stage and very much in flux,
but the pace of the current development illustrates well that it is making its
way to become a fully-fledged base platform for Genode soon.
NOVA microhypervisor
After enabling multi-processor support and the destruction of kernel objects
in the previous releases, the new implemented life-time management of kernel
capability selectors represents the final piece of the puzzle to use NOVA as a
fully-supported kernel platform for Genode.
A kernel capability selector on NOVA is similar in nature to a file descriptor
on Unix, as it refers to a kernel object. In contrast to a file descriptor,
however, the kernel object is not a file but the identity of an user-level
object. Another difference is the way how a capability selector appears in a
process. On Unix, most file descriptors are directly created by a process via
system calls like _open_ or _socket_. On NOVA, processes obtain capability
selectors via IPC messages from other processes. Both file descriptors and
capability selectors have in common that they should be closed when they are
no longer needed. Otherwise, the name space of file descriptors or capability
selectors gets polluted by stale kernel objects and long-running processes
bear the risk of resource leakage.
Because Genode is implemented in C++, the framework is able to manage the
lifetime of capability selectors by modelling the 'Capability' type as a
reference-counting smart pointer. After we first implemented this idea for the
Fiasco.OC base platform, we have now successfully applied the same approach to
the NOVA platform.
Fiasco.OC kernel and L4Linux
To enable the advanced features of the GNU debugger as described in Section
[GNU Debugger], we extended Genode's facility to access thread states such
that the register contents of a paused thread (which is not currently
executing a syscall) can get modified by the 'Cpu_session::state()' function.
L4Linux is a paravirtualized Linux kernel that can be used on top of the
Fiasco.OC kernel. To experiment with use cases where many instances of L4Linux
are executed on a single machine, and as a way to exercise the new
resource-balancing mechanisms described in Section [Dynamic resource balancing],
we extended L4Linux with a custom ballooning mechanism, which is similar to
solutions like Xen's balloon driver. For this, the new parent interface
extensions for requesting and yielding resources are used. L4Linux registers a
yield signal context at its parent. Whenever the parent triggers a yield, the
balloon driver "inflates its balloon", which means that it requests all pages
available, and then frees the corresponding memory dataspaces.
The ballooning driver is enabled by default. From Genode's perspective,
L4Linux behaves like a regular Genode subsystem that positively responds to
resource-yield requests.
OKL4 kernel
We removed the support for the paravirtualized OKLinux kernel for OKL4.
For running Linux on top of Genode, there exist several alternatives
such as the Seoul VMM on NOVA, the ARM TrustZone support in base-hw, or
the paravirtualized L4Linux kernel running on top of Fiasco.OC.