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ArvernOS (formerly known as "willOS") is a minimal and experimental monolithic kernel (not really an Operating System because it cannot do a lot of things currently). Some screencasts are available in this Twitter thread.


The main goal of this project is to learn about operating systems, kernel development, different architectures and improve my C skills. ArvernOS is a monolithic (and hopefully modular) kernel with a unified homemade libc/libk, and userland programs.

The roadmap isn't clearly defined yet and it mainly depends on what I'd like to work on when I have time to spend on this project.

Architectures, boards and tiers

ArvernOS supports the architectures and boards listed below. Support for different architectures and boards are organized into two tiers, each with a different set of guarantees.

Tier 1

Tier 1 is the reference implementation and very likely the most advanced.

Current Tier 1 archs/boards:

  • x86_64
    • generic

Tier 2

Tier 2 is guaranteed to build but not all features have been implemented yet. Features are defined by the reference implementation and once feature parity is achieved, an architecture and/or board should move to Tier 1. Boards for which we cannot run enough tests in CI (e.g., because QEMU does not support the board) should stay in Tier 2, though.

Current Tier 2 archs/boards:

  • aarch32
    • Raspberry Pi 2
  • aarch64
    • Raspberry Pi 3

Hacking on ArvernOS

This section (and its sub-sections) are written for everyone interested in building and working on ArvernOS.

Setting up a development environment

The following dependencies are required to build this project:

  • llvm (version 13 currently)
  • make
  • qemu (version >= 5)

If you want to work on the x86_64 architecture, you'll need the following extra dependencies:

  • nasm
  • grub-mkrescue
  • xorriso

If you want to work on ARM architectures (aarch32 or aarch64), you'll need the following extra dependencies:

  • gcc-arm-none-eabi
  • u-boot-tools
The recommended way to work on this project is to use Docker.

Getting the sources

This project contains git submodules. You have to clone the main project as well as the submodules, either by using this command:

$ git clone --recurse-submodules <url pointing to this repo>

or by using this command if you already have a copy of this git repository:

$ git submodule update --init

Docker (recommended way)

Use Docker with the provided Dockerfile. You can either use the willdurand/arvernos-toolchain image from DockerHub or build your own:

$ docker build -t willdurand/arvernos-toolchain .

You can then use it with docker run:

$ docker run -it --rm -v $(pwd):/app willdurand/arvernos-toolchain make help
ArvernOS - available commands for arch=x86_64
clean remove build artifacts
debug build the project in debug mode
docs build the docs
fmt automatically format the code with clang-format
gdb build, run the project in debug mode and enable GDB
help show this help message
libc build the libc
release build the project in release mode
run-debug run the project in debug mode
run-release run the project in release mode
run-test run the project in test mode
test run the unit tests
userland compile the userland programs (statically linked to libc)
version print tool versions
The output of the make help command may contain different commands depending on the architecture and board configured.


Install Homebrew, then run the following commands:

$ brew install nasm xorriso qemu llvm u-boot-tools


The tools/install-linux-deps script is used to install the dependencies. It is currently used by both the Dockerfile and Circle CI.

Building ArvernOS

You first need to install the development dependencies in order to build ArvernOS. The different final files are located in the build/<arch>/dist/ or build/<arch>/<board>/dist/ folder.

Debug mode

To build the image in debug mode, run:

$ make clean ; make debug

To compile the OS in debug mode, build the image, and start qemu with the OS loaded, run:

$ make clean ; make run-debug
Some boards aren't supported in QEMU.

QEMU monitor

When running make run-debug, the QEMU monitor can be accessed over TCP on port 5555. You can use tools like telnet or nc:

$ telnet 5555


In debug mode, logging very likely uses the serial port COM1 to write various debugging information. QEMU is configured to write the output of this serial port to a logfile in ./log/. DEBUG level logs are not necessarily written by default, though, and it is possible to enable DEBUG logs for specific modules like this:

# Enable the debug logs for the "net" and "fs" modules
$ make clean ; make run-debug ENABLE_NET_DEBUG=1 ENABLE_FS_DEBUG=1

The available debug variables are:


Stack traces

Log files may contain stack traces without debug symbols if the symbols haven't been loaded:

DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kshell/kshell.c:108:run_command(): command='selftest' argc=1
DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kernel/panic.c:30:kernel_dump_stacktrace(): kernel stacktrace:
DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kernel/panic.c:39:kernel_dump_stacktrace(): 00000000001163B3 - ???+0x0
DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kernel/panic.c:39:kernel_dump_stacktrace(): 0000000000115941 - ???+0x0
DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kernel/panic.c:39:kernel_dump_stacktrace(): 0000000000115BE1 - ???+0x0
DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kernel/panic.c:39:kernel_dump_stacktrace(): 00000000001152BF - ???+0x0
DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kernel/panic.c:39:kernel_dump_stacktrace(): 000000000010935B - ???+0x0

Use the tools/ script to add missing symbol names to the output:

$ ./tools/ build/x86_64/dist/symbols.txt log/x86_64-debug.log
DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kshell/kshell.c:108:run_command(): command='selftest' argc=1
DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kernel/panic.c:30:kernel_dump_stacktrace(): kernel stacktrace:
DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kernel/panic.c:39:kernel_dump_stacktrace(): 00000000001163B3 - selftest+0x63
DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kernel/panic.c:39:kernel_dump_stacktrace(): 0000000000115941 - run_command+0x271
DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kernel/panic.c:39:kernel_dump_stacktrace(): 0000000000115BE1 - kshell_run+0x181
DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kernel/panic.c:39:kernel_dump_stacktrace(): 00000000001152BF - kmain+0x107f
DEBUG | src/kernel/arch/x86_64/kernel/panic.c:39:kernel_dump_stacktrace(): 000000000010935B - long_mode_start+0x13

In addition, you might want to find the corresponding line of code in the source files by using llvm-addr2line or llvm-symbolizer:

$ llvm-symbolizer-13 --obj=build/x86_64/dist/kernel-x86_64.bin 0x01163B3
$ llvm-addr2line-13 -e build/x86_64/dist/kernel-x86_64.bin 01163B3


Use make gdb to run the project in debug mode with QEMU configured to wait for gdb to connect. This has been tested with vim (:Termdebug) and VS Code.

A sensible configuration is automatically generated when this command is executed (see also: make gdbinit). If a file named .gdbinit.local exists in the project's root directory, its content will be appended to the generated .gdbinit file.

make gdb calls make run-debug under the hood so all configuration options are also supported. For example, it is possible to run make gdb KERNEL_CMDLINE="kshell selftest".

Release mode

To compile the OS in release mode, build the image, and start qemu with the OS loaded, run:

$ make clean ; make run-release

config files

config files are used to configure how a build works. The content must be compatible with make. Here is an example:

# LLVM config on MacOS with Homebrew
LLVM_PREFIX = /usr/local/opt/llvm@13/bin/
# Always enable the Undefined Behavior sanitizer
# Logging


ArvernOS is released under the MIT License. See the bundled LICENSE file for details. In addition, some parts of this project have their own licenses attached (either in the source files or in a LICENSE file next to them).