Following updates from Genode and Haiku highlighting their progress towards becoming broadly useful operating systems, I installed them on some real hardware, took them for a spin, and thought about what it would take for them to take over the world…what market position is available and accessible to a potential, future, Genode based OS?
So. Would you be interesting in an OS that can say this (with a straight face)?:
Uncrashable. Genode will never crash, ever, when run on properly functioning hardware. Go ahead and try, we dare you. For good measure there’s a formal proof of Genode’s uncrashability and it matches experience of real users–Genode is the most stable, reliable, general purpose operating system available, open source or proprietary, bar none. In fact, its able to detect and recover from many hardware bugs, to the point that Genode is the tool of choice by integrators trying to track down bad hardware.
Unstoppable. If you can play a video or music on your Genode machine, without skipping under light load, adding heavy load at 100% CPU won’t cause it to skip nor will the UI become any less responsive than it was when you weren’t running any apps. With Genode you get many of the benefits and guarantees of a realtime OS without the downsides–you get a great UI, a mainstream API, and reliable performance.
Unhackable. Genode trusts nothing. Not the CPU, not the RAM, not the devices, not the software. Genode protects against malicious hardware, drivers, and software in all categories, taking care to limit the data leaked and privileges accessed by a bug or a sophisticated attacker that controls one or more components. Genode uses encryption, separation, compartmentalization, and other techniques in a formally verified design that makes it provably impossible to use side-channel or direct attacks on the tech–you’re left only with phishing and other social engineer attacks if you want to break into a Genode system.
Multilingual. Runs Linux, Windows, OSX, Android, iOS, and retro console binaries including office suites, system utilities, developer tools, and games. On all architectures known to man. And a pony.
Ok, I got carried away and it gets more ridiculous as I go, but at least some of the first two benefits are possible, interesting, and differentiated. Those would make for a pretty interesting OS.
P.S. Genode is not an OS, rather, its an OS framework that you use to make an OS by assembling a bunch of pieces (i.e. kernel, drivers, apps). ‘Sculpt’ is the name of the OS the Genode team makes to show off what Genode can do. Nonetheless, Genode is the name most people might know, so I’m exercising a bit of creative license here, not unlike shortening GNU/Linux to Linux or referring to Linux as an OS when its really a kernel while Debian is the name of a proper (Linux-based) OS.
P.P.S. It is of course up to the people investing blood, sweat, and cash in Genode to decide where to take it next. I am not one of those, I have the much easier and safer task of hurling remarks from the peanut gallery.
P.P.P.S. Yes, yes, some of these ideas are impossible or at least highly impractical, but I can dream, can’t I? :) Tablet computers probably seemed impossible when they were making the film 2001, but now we have them. Sometimes a bit of dreaming can bring the future closer.