Posted By: Giovanni Galbo
One thing I’ve always wanted to do is develop my very own operating system (not necessarily fancy like Linux or Windows, but better than a simple boot loader which I’ve already done).
I’m having a hard time finding resources/guides that take you past writing a simple “Hello World” OS.
I know lots of people will probably recommend I look at Linux or BSD; but the code base for systems like that is (presumably) so big that I wouldn’t know where to start.
Update: To make it easier for people who land on this post through Google here are some OS development resources:
Writing Your Own Operating System (Thanks Adam)
Linux From Scratch (Thanks John)
SharpOS (C# Operating System) (Thanks lomaxx)
BonaFide (Thanks Steve)
Bran (Thanks Steve)
Roll your own toy UNIX-clone OS (Thanks Steve)
I found a nice resource named MikeOS, “MikeOS is a learning tool to demonstrate how simple OSes work. It uses 16-bit real mode for BIOS access, so that it doesn’t need complex drivers”
I found some resources at Freebyte’s Guide to…Free and non-free Operating Systems that links to kits such as OSKit and ExOS library. These seem super useful in getting started in OS development.
Dinah provided some useful Stack Overflow discussion of aspiring OS developers: Roadblocks in creating a custom operating system discusses what pitfalls you might encounter while developing an OS
and OS Development is a more general discussion.
LB provided a link to the Pintos Project, an education OS designed for students learning OS development.
Updated 7/27/09 (Still going strong!)
I stumbled upon an online OS course from Berkley featuring 23 lectures.
I found the slides and other materials to go along with the online Berkeley lectures listed above.
All questions tagged osdev on stackoverflow
OS/161 is an academic OS written in c that runs on a simulated hardware. This OS is similar in Nachos. Thanks Novelocrat!
Linux Kernel Development by Robert Love is suggested by Anders. It is a “widely acclaimed insider’s look at the Linux kernel.”
Thanks Tim S. Van Haren for telling us about Cosmos, an OS written entirely in c#.
tgiphil tells us about Managed Operating System Alliance (MOSA) Framework, “a set of tools, specifications and source code to foster development of managed operating systems based on the Common Intermediate Language.”
kerneltrap.org is no longer available. The linux kernel v0.01 is available from kernel.org
A basic OS development tutorial designed to be a semester’s project. It guides you through to build an OS with basic components. Very good start for beginners. Related paper. Thanks Srujan!
Writing a Simple Operating System From Scratch. Thanks James Moore!
How to make a computer operating system Thanks ddtoni!
Updated Sept 12 2016
Updated Dec 10 2016
Writing a Simple Operating System —from Scratch (thank you @Tyler C)
There are a lot of links after this brief overview of what is involved in writing an OS for the X86 platform.
The link that appears to be most promising (www.nondot.org/sabre/os/articles) is no longer available, so you’ll need to poke through the Archive.org version to read it.
At the end of the day the bootloader takes the machine code of the kernel, puts it in memory, and jumps to it. You can put any machine code in the kernel that you want, but most C programs expect an OS so you’ll need to tell your compiler that it won’t have all that, or the bootloader has to create some of it.
The kernel then does all the heavy lifting, and I suspect it’s the example kernel you want. But there’s a long way to go between having a kernel that says, “Hello world” to having a kernel that loads a command interpretor, provides disk services, and loads and manages programs.
You might want to consider subscribing to ACM to get access to their older literature – there are lots of articles in the late 80’s and early 90’s in early computing magazines about how to create alternative OSs. There are likely books that are out of print from this era as well. You might be able to get the same information for free by looking up the indexes of those magazines (which are available on that site – click “index” near the magazine name) and then asking around for people with a copy.
Lastly, I know that usenet is dead (for so sayeth the prophets of internet doom) but you’ll find that many of the craggy old experts from that era still live there. You should search google groups (they have dejanews’s old repository) and I expect you’ll find many people asking the same questions a decade or 1.5 ago that you’re asking now. You may even run across Linus Torvalds’ many queries for help as he was developing linux originally. If searches don’t bring anything up, ask in the appropriate newsgroup (probably starts with comp.arch, but search for ones with OS in the name).