Trustworthy Systems

Wombat: A portable user-mode Linux for embedded systems


Ben Leslie, Carl van Schaik and Gernot Heiser

NICTA, Sydney, Australia
UNSW, Australia


Embedded systems are the biggest potential market for Linux, much bigger (in terms of number as well as total value) than either the desktop or the server market. While Linux is making excellent inroads into (high-end) embedded systems, a number of challenges particular to embedded systems threaten to limit its impact. These include the requirements for hard real-time capability, extreme robustness, and, in particular, a minimal trusted computing base. The viral nature of the GPL is also frequently causing problems.

We argue that a portable user-mode Linux which runs on a truly minimal kernel is the answer, and will open up application domains which would otherwise be hard to penetrate. We present such a system, called Wombat, which is a port of Linux kernel to the L4 microkernel. Wombat is readily portable between architectures (presently runs on x86, ARM and MIPS), and initial performance evaluations look promising.

BibTeX Entry

    address          = {Canberra},
    author           = {Ben Leslie and van Schaik, Carl and Gernot Heiser},
    booktitle        = {6th},
    month            = apr,
    paperurl         = {},
    title            = {Wombat: A Portable User-Mode {Linux} for Embedded Systems},
    year             = {2005}