Even though it seems like there are a lot of operating system choices, the number narrows if you start counting kernels, instead of distributions. Sure, Windows is clearly an operating system family, and on the Unix-like side, there is Linux and BSD. But many other operating systems–Ubuntu, Fedora, Raspian–they all derive from some stock operating system. There are some outliers, though, and one of those is HelenOS. The open source OS runs on many platforms, including PCs, Raspberry PIs, Beaglebones, and many others.
Although the OS isn’t new, it is gaining more features and is now at version 0.7. You can see a video about some of the new features, below.
According to the project’s web site:
HelenOS is a portable microkernel-based multiserver operating system designed and implemented from scratch. It decomposes key operating system functionality such as file systems, networking, device drivers and graphical user interface into a collection of fine-grained user space components that interact with each other via message passing. A failure or crash of one component does not directly harm others. HelenOS is therefore flexible, modular, extensible, fault tolerant and easy to understand.
The development team mentions in its FAQ that the code may not be stable enough for production use, but that they feel it is close to being ready for practical use. The APIs available are not copies of the equivalent Linux API which gives the OS more flexibility, but makes it more difficult to port existing code. There’s a document outlining the differences.
Although the operating system doesn’t use a Linux API, it isn’t as far out as some others we’ve seen. Got a better idea? You can learn about jumping into OS development on a Raspberry Pi and do your own.