Sat. Jul 11th, 2020

Redox OS 0.5.0 released: A Rust Operating System

3 min read

Redox is an operating system written in Rust, a language with a focus on safety and high performance. Redox, following the microkernel design, aims to be secure, usable, and free. Redox is inspired by previous kernels and operating systems, such as SeL4, MINIX, Plan 9, and BSD.

Redox is not just a kernel, it’s a full-featured Operating System, providing packages (memory allocator, file system, display manager, core utilities, etc.) that together make up a functional and convenient operating system. You can loosely think of it as the GNU or BSD ecosystem, but in a memory safe language and with modern technology.

How Redox compares to other operating systems


The syscall interface is very Unix-y. For example, we have openpipepipe2lseekreadwritebrkexecv, and so on. Currently, we support the 31 most common Linux syscalls.

Compared to Linux, our syscall interface is much more minimal. This is not because of the stage in development, but because of a minimalist design.

“Everything is a URL”

This is a generalization of “Everything is a file”, largely inspired by Plan 9. In Redox, “resources” (will be explained later) can be both socket-like and file-like, making them fast enough for using them for virtually everything.

This way we get a more unified system API. We will explain this later, in URLs, schemes, and resources.

The kernel

Redox’s kernel is a microkernel. The architecture is largely inspired by MINIX.

In contrast to Linux or BSD, Redox has only 16,000 lines of kernel code, a number that is often decreasing. Most services are provided in user space

Having vastly smaller amounts of code in the kernel makes it easier to find and fix bugs/security issues more efficiently. Andrew Tanenbaum (author of MINIX) stated that for every 1,000 lines of properly written code, there is a bug. This means that for a monolithic kernel which could average over 15,000,000 lines of code, there could be at least 15,000 bugs. A microkernel which usually averages 15,000 lines of code would mean that at least 15 bugs exist.

It should be noted that the extra lines are simply based outside of kernel space, making them less dangerous, not necessarily a smaller number.

The main idea is to have components and drivers that would be inside a monolithic kernel exist in user space and follow the Principle of Least Authority (POLA). This is where every individual component is:

  • Completely isolated in memory and as separate user processes
    • The failure of one component does not crash other components
    • Allows foreign and untrusted code to not expose the entire system
    • Bugs and malware cannot spread to other components
  • Has restricted communication with other components
  • Doesn’t have Admin/Super-User privileges
    • Bugs are moved to userspace which reduces their power

All of this increases the reliability of the system significantly. This would be useful for mission-critical applications and for users that want minimal issues with their computer systems.

Changelog v0.5

Please use the following links to see all the code changes since 0.3.5:

  • redox
  • cookbook
  • kernel
  • relibc is completely new
  • orbtk is going through a redesign
  • Many other repositories have changed, but are not tracked in the main Redox repository. I encourage you to browse through our projects on the Redox OS GitLab
  • More