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A simple OS kernel for research, teaching, and fun.

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The Basekernel Operating System Kernel

Basekernel is a simple operating system kernel for research, teaching, and fun.

Basekernel is not a complete operating system, but it is a starting point for those who wish to study and develop new operating system code. If you want to build something different than Windows, Linux, or Multics, Basekernel may be a good place to try out your new ideas.

Basekernel can boot an Intel PC-compatible virtual machine in 32-bit protected mode, with support for VESA framebuffer graphics, ATA hard disks, ATAPI optical devices, process management, memory protection, simple graphics, and basic filesystem. From there, it's your job to write user-level programs and expand the system.

To be clear, this is raw low-level code, not a production system. If you want to hack code and learn about operating system, you will like Basekernel. If you are looking for a new OS to run on your laptop, then this is not what you want.

This project is led by Prof. Douglas Thain at the University of Notre Dame. A variety of students have contributed to the code, including Jack Mazanec, Douglas Smith, Ethan Williams, Jon Westhoff, and Kevin Wern.

To learn more, see the Basekernel Wiki.

Quick Start Instructions

If you are building on a Linux-X86 machine and have the QEMU virtual machine installed:

git clone
cd basekernel
qemu-system-i386 -cdrom basekernel.iso

And you should see something like this:

After some initial boot messages, you will see the kernel shell prompt. This allows you to take some simple actions before running the first user level program. For example, read the boot messages to see which atapi unit the cdrom is mounted on. Then, use the mount command to mount the cdrom filesystem on that unit:

mount atapi 2 cdromfs

Use the list command to examine the root directory:

list /

And use the run command to run a program:

run /bin/saver.exe

Cross-Compiling Instructions

If you are building on any other type of machine, you will probably need to build a cross-compiler using
and then edit
to use the cross compiler binaries, then execute
to create

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