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HelenOS - the operating system that launched a thousand processes

Apr 19, 2010, 14:32 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jesse Smith)


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"The team's website is of a simple, but elegant design that is easy to navigate and provides information in a clear point-by-point manner. There is a lot of technical information here, especially concerning the design of HelenOS. Visitors to the site will learn that HelenOS contains approximately 325,000 lines of code (mostly written in C) and is currently maintained by nine developers. What is, perhaps, more telling is the lack of documentation on using the operating system. As Jakub mentioned above, there isn't a lot an end-user or administrator is going to do with HelenOS; at the moment it's more for programmers and people who want to learn about kernels. Once I confirmed that HelenOS supports Intel 32-bit machines (as well as ARM, MIPS, PowerPC and Sparc64) I downloaded the ISO image for HelenOS and set it up in a VirtualBox virtual machine.

"Booting from the CD briefly shows a GRUB menu in which starting HelenOS is the sole option. A few seconds later the user is dropped at a console that is partly text and partly graphical. Along the top of the screen is a banner which displays the name of the operating system, a series of numbered buttons and a button labelled "kcon". Below the banner is a command line shell (the Brain Dead Shell, in this case), which prompts the user to type "help" for assistance. Being as this was my first experience with a new operating system, I took the prompt up on the invitation."

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