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mahavirj arm: fix warnings with -Wextra CFLAGS
Signed-off-by: Mahavir Jain <mahavirpj@gmail.com>
Latest commit c5f109b Apr 28, 2017
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X86 based Operating system built from scratch for learning purpose

  • KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) Philosophy
  • Bootloader is assumed to be GRUB, kernel has GRUB specific multiboot header


  • Higher half Kernel, Kernel sets itself up to run from higher half, 3GB region
  • Multitasking
    • Basic scheduler with multitasking support, round robin, with same priority
    • Timer interrupt forces context switch
  • User mode, Kernel mode distinction
    • GDT have been setup with appropriate DPLs
    • Kernel code runs in ring 0, and user code in ring 3
    • System call happens through int 64 which has required GATE descriptors for privilege escalation
  • Initramfs
    • Standard cpio format for ramfs (no gzip compression)
    • Standard ELF format for user space applications
  • Fork support
    • Clone parent process, no COW support
  • Exec support
    • Overwrite address space with new process


Getting Started

To build operating system (assuming gcc, nasm installed),


To run under QEMU

make qemu

To run (assuming bochs, bochs-sdl installed),

make run

To run under QEMU with debugging support (GDB)

make qemu_gdb

(Attach GDB, required commands already provided in .gdbinit file in top level dir)

Additional Notes


BIOS starts processor in 16-bit real mode, GRUB initiates 32 bit protected mode. Kernel ELF image is provided with multiboot header as per GRUB specification, if GRUB finds this header in first 512 bytes of image, then it loads ELF at 0x100000 location, lower memory belongs to BIOS, and other hardware/IO mappings like VGA. Bootup code, executes from _start entry point of kernel, and (note BSS is already zero initialized by GRUB),

  • Sets up two 4MB (size-extended) PTE's to map kernel image in, 0x0-0x400000 and 0xC0000000-0xC0400000 range respectively.
  • Former being identity map as EIP is still in lower memory range and later serving as higher half mapping.
  • Stack pointer is set up in higher half range, earlier being set by GRUB below 1M
  • Once paging is enabled, program does long jump to higher half, thus starting execution from higher half.

Memory Management

Simple first-fit strategy memory allocator, allocates memory from kernel space, during free it also manages compaction of adjacent free blocks.

For userspace malloc/free are provided which internally used sbrk system call to increase system break (if required). Kernel does required page table setups and returns increases system break limit.

Paging and VM

This is divided into kernel space memory mapping and user space memory mappings. Kernel space mappings remains constant and are part of every process address space, only linked not cloned, as changes from one process in kernel space should be visible ot other processes as well.

User space mappings depends on exec call, and every process has its own kernel as well as user stack.

During context switch, CR3 register gets loaded with current process page directory base address and that also internally invalidates TLB (Translation Lookaside Buffer).

Init Process

User space applications are stored in initramfs, a cpio format archieve in standard ELF format. During exec kernel finds and parses ELF image, sets up its page tables accordingly. Init process only starts shell then hangs in there forever.


Scheduler runs on behalf of currently executing process, mainly in two cases,

  • In case of timer IRQ, process will be swapped out
  • In case of relinquishing CPU if process blocks on something or yields

Kernel Space vs User Space

Kernel mode CODE/DATA segments are separate than user mode CODE/DATA segments with privilege levels programmed accordingly. While returning from exception, hardware pops up CS (code segment) and SS (stack segment) from stack to return to lower privilege level.

We program this stack frame accordingly while creating new task,

        /* Task will start in CPL = 3, i.e. user mode */
        task->irqf->cs = (SEG_UCODE << 3) | DPL_USER;
        task->irqf->ds = (SEG_UDATA << 3) | DPL_USER;
        task->irqf->eflags = 0x200;
        task->irqf->ss = (SEG_UDATA << 3) | DPL_USER;

X86 hardware has built-in support for task switching, basically switching from user stack to kernel stack along with other segmentation parameters. For this every task needs to setup with its own TSS, which gets modified during context switching. We will not be using hardware task switching, but will be doing same in software itself. In any case we need to set up at-least one TSS which has valid kernel mode SS (stack segment) and ESP (stack pointer) for current task.


Random FAQ


Feel free to fork and send merge request