The MirageOS Blogon building functional operating systems

Oct
27
2020
15
0

Announcing MirageOS 3.9.0

By Martin Lucina, Hannes Mehnert

MirageOS 3.9.0 release

We are pleased to announce the release of MirageOS 3.9.0.

Our last release announcement was for MirageOS 3.6.0, so we will also cover changes since 3.7.x and 3.8.x in this announcement.

New features:

  • The Xen backend has been re-written from scratch to be based on Solo5, and now supports PVHv2 on Xen 4.10 or higher, and QubesOS 4.0.
  • As part of this re-write, the existing Mini-OS based implementation has been retired, and all non-UNIX backends now use a unified OCaml runtime based on ocaml-freestanding.
  • OCaml runtime settings settable via the OCAMLRUNPARAM environment variable are now exposed as unikernel boot parameters. For details, refer to #1180.

Security posture improvements:

  • With the move to a unified Solo5 and ocaml-freestanding base MirageOS unikernels on Xen gain several notable improvements to their overall security posture such as SSP for all C code, W^X, and malloc heap canaries. For details, refer to the mirage-xen 6.0.0 release announcement.

API breaking changes:

  • Several Xen-specific APIs have been removed or replaced, unikernels using these may need to be updated. For details, refer to the mirage-xen 6.0.0 release announcement.

Other notable changes:

  • Mirage_runtime provides event loop enter and exit hook registration (#1010).
  • All MirageOS backends now behave similarly on a successful exit of the unikernel: they call exit with the return value 0, thus at_exit handlers are now executed (#1011).
  • The unix backend used a toplevel exception handler, which has been removed. All backends now behave equally with respect to exceptions.
  • Please note that the Mirage_net.listen function still installs an exception handler, which will be removed in a future release. The out of memory exception is no longer caught by Mirage_net.listen (#1036).
  • To reduce the number of OPAM packages, the mirage-*-lwt packages are now deprecated. Mirage_net (and others) now use Lwt.t directly, and their buffer type is Cstruct.t (#1004).
  • OPAM files generated by mirage configure now include opam build and installation instructions, and also an URL to the Git origin (#1022).

Known issues:

  • mirage configure fails if the unikernel is under version control and no origin remote is present (#1188).
  • The Xen backend has issues with event delivery if built with an Alpine Linux GCC toolchain. As a work-around, please use a Fedora or Debian based toolchain.

Acknowledgements:

  • Thanks to Roger Pau Monné, Andrew Cooper and other core Xen developers for help with understanding the specifics of how Xen PVHv2 works, and how to write an implementation from scratch.
  • Thanks to Marek Marczykowski-Górecki for help with the QubesOS specifics, and for forward-porting some missing parts of PVHv2 to QubesOS version of Xen.
  • Thanks to @palainp on Github for help with testing on QubesOS.