Data61, Linux Foundation launch seL4 open source foundation

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Data61, Linux Foundation launch seL4 open source foundation

To accelerate seL4 microkernel developments.

The Linux Foundation is set to host a new global not-for-profit foundation established by the CSIRO’s Data61 to promote and fund the development of its security-focused microkernel, seL4.

The secure embedded L4 (seL4) microkernel was developed by Data61 to provide a reliable, secure, fast and verified base for building trustworthy operating systems that handle sensitive information. It has been deployed in defence and aerospace settings.

seL4 enforces security within componentised system architectures by ensuring isolation between trusted and untrusted system components, and by carefully controlling software access to hardware devices in the system.

The new seL4 Foundation will be chaired by one of the microkernel’s original developers, Scientia Professor Gernot Heiser from UNSW Sydney and Data61.

“This is about taking the seL4 ecosystem to the next level,” Heiser said.

“While broadening the community of contributors and adopters, we will continue to drive the kernel's evolution and the research that ensures it will remain the world's most advanced OS technology.”

The Linux Foundation said the work of the new seL4 foundation will be “paramount” in safeguarding avionics, autonomous vehicles, medical devices, and critical infrastructure from cyber attacks.

Michael Dolan, vice president of strategic programs at the Linux Foundation, said it will support seL4's growth and community development "by providing expertise and services to increase community engagement, contributors and adopters."

“The open governance and standards-based model will provide a neutral, mature and trustworthy framework to help advance an operating system that is readily deployable and optimised for security," Dolan said.

Other backers and members of the seL4 foundation include UNSW Sydney, HENSOLDT Cyber, Ghost Locomotion, Cog Systems, and DornerWorks.

seL4’s 12,000 lines of C code are available on GitHub.

It runs on a variety of hardware platforms, including x86, x86-64, Arm and RISC-V. seL4 can also run on virtual machines to support legacy software.

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