GNU/Hurd Continues Effort To Use NetBSD's Drivers For Better Hardware Support

Written by Michael Larabel in GNU on 6 February 2022 at 04:46 AM EST. 22 Comments
Besides all of the Linux-focused talks at the annual FOSDEM conference, another favorite track of mine is that on micro-kernels and other operating systems. While there wasn't the GNU/Hurd status update in 2022 as there has been in some recent years, there was a talk over GNU/Hurd using NetBSD kernel drivers in order to expand its hardware coverage.

GNU Hurd hardware support has been in very rough shape with lacking full x86_64 support, missing USB support, only recently having some level of sound support, and much more... Their drivers have been severely lacking.

GNU/Hurd contributor Damien Zammit presented at FOSDEM 2022 on Saturday around making use of NetBSD's drivers with a rump kernel framework in order to expand the Hurd's hardware reach. "The NetBSD kernel drivers have been reused in a microkernel setting and demonstrate their use to boot up a GNU/Hurd system via a userspace rump disk driver, with a driverless Hurd kernel, gnumach. The ACPI management, PCI management, and actual driver are in separate processes with RPC interfaces between them, which separates out their debugging, licencing concerns and execution. I believe this aligns with the original vision for the operating system, (as a Hurd of servers)."

The rump support has been used for recently having an AHCI SATA driver that works for supporting newer disks. The hardware support is improving, but it's still a long road ahead for the Hurd, even with being around longer than the Linux kernel... Those wanting to view Damien's talk assets and other information on this effort can visit
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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