The seL4 Microkernel. Security is no excuse for poor performance! The world’s first operating-system kernel with an end-to-end proof of implementation. L4Ka::Pistachio is the latest L4 microkernel developed by the System Architecture Group at the University of Karlsruhe in collaboration with the DiSy group at the. L4 got rid of “long message passing”, in favor of shared memory and interrupt-like IPC. This is great for the kernel – no copying delays and no.

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Its defining features are: A new resource-management model that enhances isolation and supports reasoning about it.

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Using capabilities and making all memory management a user-level responsibility, memory management is fully delegatable with low overheads, and automatically extends to kernel memory. It is the world’s first and, as of early still only general-purpose OS kernel which is fully formally verified: It has a proof that the executable binary code is a correct translation of the C implementation. This means that the compiler and linker do not need to be trusted to produce correct code.


It has formal proofs that the kernel mechanisms can be used to enforce integrity and confidentiality of user-level components. Together with the functional-correctness and translation-correctness proofs, these proofs hold for the kernel binary.

The L4 microkernel family

Together these make seL4 the world’s first and still only OS kernel that is provably secure in a very strong sense. It has a complete analysis of timing, in particular, worst-case interrupt latencies. This make it the world’s first and still only protected-mode operating-system kernel with a sound and complete worst-case timing analysis, and thus the only protected-mode OS that can actually provide hard real-time guarantees.

Despite all this unprecedented assurance, seL4 mixrokernel in terms of IPC cost presently the fastest L4 kernel. It was open-sourced in July Originally open-source, source is now available to mifrokernel licensees only.

It comes in two versions: Pistachio-embedded and is still shipping on mobile devices. To date, the OKL4 microkernel has shipped on several billion mobile devices, making it the most widely-deployed L4 kernel. The OKL4 microkernel was also the first L4 kernel with a capability-based access control model. It was originally open-source but is now closed.

The latest release 3.

It is a 3rd-generation microkernel, using capabilities as the sole access control mechanism. Being designed as a preemptible kernel it can run real-time applications and with its comprehensive virtualization features allows to host a wide variety of legacy systems. OC is open-source microkerneo commercially supported by Kernkonzept. It is certified to avionics and other standards and deployed in aircraft and trains.


The kernel is no longer actively maintained. Pistachio-embedded is a descendant of L4Ka:: Pistachio, optimised for use in embedded systems.

The L4 ยต-Kernel Family

Modifications are aimed at reducing kernel complexity and memory footprint. It is superseded by OKL4 and no longer maintained.

Hazelnut was designed to be portable across 32bit platforms. We separated general code like IPC, thread management, and scheduling from platform dependent code like pagetable management and exception handling. With the release of L4Ka:: Pistachio development on the kernel is discontinued. The kernel was based on initial work done at Dresden.

The MIPS kernel was used heavily for teaching and research.