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Mimiker: MIPS Micro-Kernel

An experiment with implementation of very simple operating system for Malta board.


To build Mimiker you will need a custom MIPS toolchain we use. You can download a binary debian package from here. It installs into /opt, so you'll need to add /opt/mipsel-mimiker-elf/bin to your PATH.

Otherwise, if you prefer to build the toolchain on your own, download crosstool-ng which we use for configuring the toolchain. You can get it from here. Then:

cd toolchain/mips/
ct-ng build

By default, this will build and install the mipsel-mimiker-elf toolchain to ~/local. Update your $PATH so that it provides mipsel-mimiker-elf-*, i.e. unless you've changed the install location you will need to append ~/local/mipsel-mimiker-elf/bin to your PATH.


With toolchain in place, you are ready to compile Mimiker. Run


in project root. Currently two additional command-line options are supported:

  • CLANG=1 - Use the Clang compiler instead of GCC (make sure you have it installed!).
  • KASAN=1 - Compile the kernel with the KernelAddressSanitizer, which is a dynamic memory error detector.
  • KCSAN=1 - Compile the kernel with the KernelConcurrencySanitizer, a tool for detecting data races.

For example, use make KASAN=1 command to create a GCC-KASAN build.

The result will be a mimiker.elf file containing the kernel image.


We provide a Python script that simplifies running Mimiker OS. The kernel image is run with QEMU simulator. Several serial consoles are available for interaction. Optionally you can attach to simulator with gdb debugger. All of that is achieved by running all interactive sessions within tmux terminal multiplexer with default key bindings.

In project main directory, run command below that will start the kernel in test-run mode. To finish simulation simply detach from tmux session by pressing Ctrl+b and d (as in detach) keys. To switch between emulated serial consoles and debugger press Ctrl+b and corresponding terminal number.

./launch test=all

Some useful flags to the launch script:

  • -h - Prints usage.
  • -d - Starts simulation under a debugger.
  • -t - Bind simulator UART to current stdio.

Any other argument is passed to the kernel as a kernel command-line argument. Some useful kernel arguments:

  • init=PROGRAM - Specifies the userspace program for PID 1. Browse bin and usr.bin directories for currently available programs.
  • klog-quiet=1 - Turns off printing kernel diagnostic messages.

If you want to run tests please read this document.


Useful sites:

Toolchain documentation:

MIPS documentation:

Hardware documentation:

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