M6: Process management & Loading

Currently your operating system has only been able to run one process, probably sosh. In this milestone you will implement the process related system calls: process_create, process_delete, my_id, process_status and process_wait. Obviously each new process should run in its own address space. This will require you to carefully manage seL4 address spaces.

Whilst the SOS apps will be included in the provided cpio file, you should instead ensure that your programs are loaded from the NFS directory when implementing process_create.

All the functionality for process creation can be found in the start_first_process() in main.c. You can use this as a guide to create a clean internal SOS interface to process creation and destruction.

sosh has an exec command. This command provides a simple interface to the process_create system call. In a similar style to UNIX shells, if the third argument to exec is an '&' then it will run the process in the background. Otherwise sosh will use process_wait to wait until the child process has finished executing.

By this final milestone you should ensure that all I/O is asynchronous. This means that your system must not block waiting for completion of file system or paging I/O, but should be able to run any process that is ready while other processes are blocked on I/O completion.

Note: the difficult part of this milestone is not process creation, it is process deletion. Now you will discover whether the data structures you have chosen have kept enough information for you to clean up a process and return the resource to the various allocators.

Adding new applications

All application files are automatically copied to the apps directory within the build directory.


The libelf library has been provided for you in your source tree. You may use this library to handle the parsing of ELF format files. You will need to modify apps/sos/src/elf.c to load executables from the network file system instead of the cpio image linked with SOS.

Note: you initially only need to read the ELF header of an executable file, in order to parse it and subsequently load it for execution. You can assume the header is less than the page size (4 KiB). You should only read in the file as needed when loading the executable, or completely lazily when the application faults on it.

Design issues

As with most milestones, a lot of the design work will be working out suitable data structures to hold process information. You may also need to extend other data structures in your operating system to handle multiple processes.

You must read the ELF files from the NFS filesystem and not the CPIO file. You will need to think about how your process loader will handle the asynchronous operations involved with reading files from the NFS.

You must set up the stack properly for every process for the process startup routine from muslc to work. The existing init_process_stack function already does this, use if for all processes.

Processes require some kind of ID. IDs should eventually be re-used, but they should not be re-used to soon to avoid race conditions.

New processes should have stdout and stderr already opened on file descriptors 1 and 2, respectively; this is assumed by muslc. For apps that require stdin, it must be explicitly opened before performing any I/O and must be allocated to file descriptor 0. If you implemented the lowest-available policy, simply open console as the first file syscall in your app. Since SOS implements a single-reader console policy, you must be prepared for this to fail.

Remember, anything allocated while a process runs should be de-allocated when it exits or is killed (e.g. in-kernel TCB, frames, paging file space, etc..).

You may wish to load the whole executable image on process creation, or instead load page-wise on demand at page-fault time.



You should show sosh executing a sub-process and show that the ps and kill commands work. Hint: execing and killing multiple instances of sosh is a good test.

You will also demonstrate (by running a sosh) that your system works even with repeated and concurrent executions, and that you can execute every file (of the right content) from your NFS directory.

As always you should be able to explain the data structures and algorithms used.

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