Recoding the configuration for live-build images

Jan Nieuwenhuizen janneke at
Sat Sep 4 07:18:16 UTC 2021

John Gilmore writes:


> Does the GNU Mes bootstrap-reducing team have a plan to replace Grub and
> the Linux kernel and init (and perhaps a BIOS?) with something tiny that
> runs on bare metal and implements a file system, the mount command, and
> processes?  Many realtime OS's are much smaller than Linux or BSD and
> yet have those capabilities.  eCos might be a great start, and is free,
> highly portable, and includes a POSIX layer (and TCP/IP for debugging),
> though it currently lacks fork/exec/wait.  The original V7 UNIX kernel
> would work, if process sizes and filename sizes are patched, and a few
> device drivers written for modern disk and CDROM drives.  Such a
> bootstrap kernel would enable the Scheme bootstrap programs to run well
> enough to build gcc, then use gcc to build the Linux kernel, then boot
> it, and continue building.

This is a valid concern and these are nice pointers.  In my FOSDEM21
talk ( I mention the fact
that we still have work to do here.  However, there are no concrete
plans that I know of just yet, at least not as a basis for real world
bootstrap of a full GNU/Linux system.

GNU Mes is being deployed in the GNU Guix bootstrap and a new effort has
just started to port the reduced binary seed bootstrap to NixOS.  We are
still working to integrate the "full source bootstrap" into GNU Guix.
The plans after that are to replace critical usage of GNU Guile with GNU
Mes.  There is also work on ARM, RISC-V and the Hurd going on.  This
probably means, e.g., backporting RISC-V support to gcc-4.6, in short:
lots of work todo here.

The fact remains that the team is still quite small and GNU Guix and
even NixOS I think are niche distributions.  It would be amazing to get
a GNU Mes based reduced binary seed bootstrap into Debian.  That could
increase our exposure a lot and may free up some development time for
doing more wild stuff.  Alas, except for chats some of us had I do not
know of concrete plans here either.

So from my side, other than some fun experiments and chats now and then
on this subject, I'm planning to do the more boring/mundane work first


Jan Nieuwenhuizen <janneke at> | GNU LilyPond
Freelance IT | Avatar®

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