Hello! Welcome to a new qoth. This qoth covers new and interesting GNU/Hurd developments in Q4 of 2023!

Samuel Thibault fixed gcc's Hurd's default pie and added static pie support. He also added a whatis command to GNU Mach's kernel debugger, which can determine what an address points to (a stack? a port? some kalloc? ...). He also added hurd-amd64 support to GCC.

Samuel requested that the Hurd team set up a continuous integration, so that when developers make code changes, they can be certain that they did not break anything. It turns out that the Hurd supports several different environments: 32 bit, 64 bit, 32-on-64 bit, ACPI, non-ACPI, SMP, non-SMP, Xen, etc. Apparently Flavio has a personal CI, but it is set up in a Debian independent way. If you are interested in helping the Hurd project set up a CI, then please get in touch!

Luca Dariz worked on adding some simple GNU Mach user-space tests . With a working MiG, a GNU/Linux machine can run make check in the GNU Mach source code, which will launch qemu to ensure that 32 bit (PAE and non PAE), 32 on 64 bit, and full 64 bit GNU Mach works. We currently do this testing on GNU/Linux, because qemu does not run on the Hurd.

Many people worked on the Hurd's new x86_64 bit support. A 64-bit debian buildd is set up, and we can bootstrap a chroot! The hurd-amd64 wanna-build infrastructure is also set up. We are having issues reliably building packages on a 64-bit Hurd, which lead Samuel to uncover and fix a proc leak.

Flavio Cruz improved GNU Mach's IPC by reordering mach_msg_type_t fields to byte align msgt_name and msgt_size. He also created a patch series to avoid message resizing for x86_64. He also removed untyped mach RPC code. GNU Mach uses typed IPC. The Hurd could support both typed and untyped, but it appears that the Hurd only uses typed RPC. So it seems best to remove any untyped RPC code.

Sergey Bugaev added GNU Mach entry re-coalescing support. Essentially, Mach was not always able to merge two vm entries that are made next to each other, which was slowing down ext2, bash, etc. Sergey allowed GNU Mach to merge entries in the common cases, which greatly helps ext2fs for instance.

Sergey is also working on porting the Ladybird web browser to the Hurd. The author of this post uses the netsurf web browser on the Hurd, which works on simple websites like wikipedia, but it badly renders javascript heavy websites, which makes many websites un-useable. If Sergey is successful in porting Ladybird, then Hurd users could start using sites like Github! It is worth noting that someone should update the Firefox port as well.

Sergey also started porting the Hurd to AArch64! While a port to RISC-V might be more exciting, it is worth mentioning that AArch64 is more established. What is interesting is that Sergey is already able to build Hurd servers for AArch64! Normally, in order to run the binaries, one would port GNU Mach to AArch64. Luckily for us, he turned to GDB and directly ran a 'Hello World' Hurd AArch64 binary on Linux! This helped him fix some bugs along the way. We still need to define the ABI and complete the GNU Mach port, but this is exciting news!

Tobias Platen started porting GNU Mach to Power9.

So if you want to test if your favorite packages work on the Hurd and contribute towards making the full GNU system usable for a wider range of people, please check the contributing page.

The GNU Hurd is the GNU project's replacement for the Unix kernel. It is a collection of servers that run on the Mach microkernel to implement file systems, network protocols, file access control, and other features that are implemented by the Unix kernel or similar kernels (such as Linux). More detailed.

GNU Mach is the microkernel upon which a GNU Hurd system is based. It provides an Inter Process Communication (IPC) mechanism that the Hurd uses to define interfaces for implementing in a distributed multi-server fashion the services a traditional operating system kernel provides. More detailed.