rCore-OS Lab1: A Trilobite OS

Well I admit that I am too lazy to transfer this article back to Chinese.

I am going to practice my operating system skills by learning through the rCore-OS of THU, which is a pretty OS written in Rust. It is Linux compatible and its target platform is RISC-V. In this article, we will build a very naive but bare metal program.

0x00 Get rid of standard library dependencies

This is the first challenge for any software developer start moving to system development: You can not rely on ANY standard libraries (glibc, uclibc, klibc or any other implementations), since the OS itself is the one responsible for providing these libs. Let’s try to get rid of them.

In Rust and C/C++ (and almost all programming languages), before running into main(), the execution environment will do some initialization work, where the std library and other standard libraries (GNU libc) may be used. Thus we have to tell Cargo there is no main and std in our target.

// os/src/main.rs

And we need to explicitly write a _start() function, which is the entry Cargo is looking for.

// os/src/main.rs
extern "C" fn _start() {
    // Nothing here now

Besides, Cargo requires us to provide panic_handler or it will not compile. Usually the std will take care of that but now we have to manually add a panic_handler.

// os/src/lang_items.rs
use core::panic::PanicInfo;

fn panic(_info: &PanicInfo) -> ! {
    // Nothing here now

Note that the rust-core can be used (and very useful) on bare metal.

Next, we need to make it possible to run our program directly on CPU without any OS support.

0x01 Make the CPU run it

For an odinary program, running it is easy: All you have to do is type it’s name in a shell and hit Enter, or double-click the exe file in Windows. That ease is benefiting from the OS. As we are creating an OS, things can get a little more complicated. Let’s first think about what will happen when the CPU starts to working.

The bootloadr for QEMU can be found at: https://github.com/itewqq/rCore-dev/tree/main/bootloader

When the CPU (riscv64 emulated by QEMU in our case) is powered on, the other general registers of the CPU are cleared to zero, and the PC register will point to the 0x1000 location. This 0x1000 location is the first instruction executed after the CPU is powered up (a small piece of boot code solidified in the hardware), and it will quickly jump to 0x80000000, which is the first instruction of the BootLoader program – RustSBI. After the basic hardware initialization, RustSBI will jump to the operating system binary code memory location 0x80200000 (for QEMU) and execute the first instruction of the operating system. Then our written operating system starts to work.

About the SBI: SBI is an underlying specification for RISC-V. The relationship between the operating system kernel and RustSBI, which implements the SBI specification, is somewhat like the relationship between an application and the operating system kernel, with the latter providing certain services to the former. However, SBI provides few services and can help the OS kernel to perform limited functions, but these functions are very low-level and important, such as shutting down the computer, displaying strings, and so on. If RustSBI provides services, then the OS kernel can call them directly.

So it’s clear that we have to put our built OS at the 0x80200000 address (for QEMU). By default, Cargo adopts a usermode memory layout which is not we expected, for example we will not get a entry address at 0x80200000 in the generated binary. To address that we need a custom linker script to make every section’s location right:

BASE_ADDRESS = 0x80200000;

    skernel = .;

    stext = .;
    .text : {
        *(.text .text.*)

    . = ALIGN(4K);
    etext = .;
    srodata = .;
    .rodata : {
        *(.rodata .rodata.*)
        *(.srodata .srodata.*)

    . = ALIGN(4K);
    erodata = .;
    sdata = .;
    .data : {
        *(.data .data.*)
        *(.sdata .sdata.*)

    . = ALIGN(4K);
    edata = .;
    .bss : {
        sbss = .;
        *(.bss .bss.*)
        *(.sbss .sbss.*)

    . = ALIGN(4K);
    ebss = .;
    ekernel = .;

    /DISCARD/ : {

Then we force Cargo to use it in linking:

// os/.cargo/config
target = "riscv64gc-unknown-none-elf"

rustflags = [
    "-Clink-arg=-Tsrc/linker.ld", "-Cforce-frame-pointers=yes"

0x02 Allocate stack space properly

In order to make our program run properly, we also need a Stack, which is used to store/load data quickly when we are short of registers, such as return address of current function, stack frame pointer, local variables, etc. Unlike the linker script used before, the compiler cannot help us to arrange the stack, so we have to use a piece of assembly code to allocate stack space at the beginning of our OS execution.

# os/src/entry.asm
    .section .text.entry
    .globl _start
    la sp, boot_stack_top
    call rust_main

    .section .bss.stack
    .globl boot_stack
    .space 4096 * 16
    .globl boot_stack_top

Note that we move the _start symbol here. We first set the sp register to a $64KiB$ space, then goto label rust_main. We modify the main.rs as follows:

// os/src/main.rs

mod lang_items;


pub fn rust_main() -> ! {
    // Nothing here now

Also don’t forget to clear the
“`.bss“` segment, which is considered to be a standard behavior in modern operating systems.

// os/src/main.rs
fn clear_bss() {
    extern "C" {
        fn sbss();
        fn ebss();
    (sbss as usize..ebss as usize).for_each(|a| {
        unsafe { (a as *mut u8).write_volatile(0) }

0x03 Add functions to our OS

At this stage we will add some basic functions to our OS, only to make it able to successfully run on bare metal. In order to achieve this we need to have the help of SBI. In layman’s terms, SBI is like an OS for OS, which provides many useful low-level functions.

If you are confused about SBI, go back to the comment in Section 0x01

Here we will, as said before, only use a few basic sys_calls of SBI, which are read/write a character to console and shutdown the machine.

// os/src/sbi.rs

const SBI_SET_TIMER: usize = 0;
const SBI_CONSOLE_PUTCHAR: usize = 1;
const SBI_CONSOLE_GETCHAR: usize = 2;
const SBI_CLEAR_IPI: usize = 3;
const SBI_SEND_IPI: usize = 4;
const SBI_REMOTE_FENCE_I: usize = 5;
const SBI_REMOTE_SFENCE_VMA: usize = 6;
const SBI_REMOTE_SFENCE_VMA_ASID: usize = 7;
const SBI_SHUTDOWN: usize = 8;

fn sbi_call(which: usize, arg0: usize, arg1: usize, arg2: usize) -> usize {
    let mut ret;
    unsafe {
            : "={x10}" (ret)
            : "{x10}" (arg0), "{x11}" (arg1), "{x12}" (arg2), "{x17}" (which)
            : "memory"
            : "volatile"

pub fn console_putchar(c: usize) {
    sbi_call(SBI_CONSOLE_PUTCHAR, c, 0, 0);

pub fn console_getchar() -> usize {
    sbi_call(SBI_CONSOLE_GETCHAR, 0, 0, 0)

pub fn shutdown() -> ! {
    sbi_call(SBI_SHUTDOWN, 0, 0, 0);
    panic!("It should shutdown!");

Based on these SBI sys_calls, we can implement some basic console-interactive functoins:

// os/src/console.rs

use crate::sbi::console_putchar;
use core::fmt::{self, Write};

struct Stdout;

impl Write for Stdout {
    fn write_str(&mut self, s: &str) -> fmt::Result {
        for c in s.chars() {
            console_putchar(c as usize);

pub fn print(args: fmt::Arguments) {

macro_rules! print {
    ($fmt: literal $(, $($arg: tt)+)?) => {
        $crate::console::print(format_args!($fmt $(, $($arg)+)?));

macro_rules! println {
    ($fmt: literal $(, $($arg: tt)+)?) => {
        $crate::console::print(format_args!(concat!($fmt, "\n") $(, $($arg)+)?));

macro_rules! error {
    ($fmt: literal $(, $($arg: tt)+)?) => {
        $crate::console::print(format_args!(concat!("\x1b[0;31m", $fmt, "\x1b[0m\n") $(, $($arg)+)?));

macro_rules! info {
    ($fmt: literal $(, $($arg: tt)+)?) => {
        $crate::console::print(format_args!(concat!("\x1b[0;34m", $fmt, "\x1b[0m\n") $(, $($arg)+)?));

macro_rules! debug {
    ($fmt: literal $(, $($arg: tt)+)?) => {
        $crate::console::print(format_args!(concat!("\x1b[0;32m", $fmt, "\x1b[0m\n") $(, $($arg)+)?));

0x04 Final result

Finally we can build and run our super naive OS on a bare metal! Let’s add some test code:

// os/src/main.rs
pub fn rust_main() -> ! {
    extern "C" {
        fn stext();
        fn etext();
        fn srodata();
        fn erodata();
        fn sdata();
        fn edata();
        fn sbss();
        fn ebss();
        fn boot_stack();
        fn boot_stack_top();
    info!("Hello, info!");
    debug!("Hello, world!");
    info!(".text [{:#x}, {:#x})", stext as usize, etext as usize);
    info!(".rodata [{:#x}, {:#x})", srodata as usize, erodata as usize);
    info!(".data [{:#x}, {:#x})", sdata as usize, edata as usize);
        "boot_stack [{:#x}, {:#x})",
        boot_stack as usize, boot_stack_top as usize
    info!(".bss [{:#x}, {:#x})", sbss as usize, ebss as usize);
    panic!("Shutdown machine!");

In the above code we add some basic output sentences to test our OS. At the end, we shutdown the machine through a panic!, which now should be:

// os/src/lang_items.rs
use core::panic::PanicInfo;
use crate::sbi::shutdown;

fn panic(info: &PanicInfo) -> ! {
    if let Some(location) = info.location() {
        error!("Panicked at {}:{} {}", location.file(), location.line(), info.message().unwrap());
    } else {
        error!("Panicked: {}", info.message().unwrap());

Let’s test our OS in QEMU:

$ cargo build --release
$ rust-objcopy --binary-architecture=riscv64 target/riscv64gc-unknown-none-elf/release/os \
    --strip-all -O binary target/riscv64gc-unknown-none-elf/release/os.bin
$ qemu-system-riscv64 \
    -machine virt \
    -nographic \
    -bios ../bootloader/rustsbi-qemu.bin \
    -device loader,file=target/riscv64gc-unknown-none-elf/release/os.bin,addr=0x80200000

    [rustsbi] Version 0.1.0
    .______       __    __      _______.___________.  _______..______   __
    |   _  \     |  |  |  |    /       |           | /       ||   _  \ |  |
    |  |_)  |    |  |  |  |   |   (----`---|  |----`|   (----`|  |_)  ||  |
    |      /     |  |  |  |    \   \       |  |      \   \    |   _  < |  |
    |  |\  \----.|  `--'  |.----)   |      |  |  .----)   |   |  |_)  ||  |
    | _| `._____| \______/ |_______/       |__|  |_______/    |______/ |__|

    [rustsbi] Platform: QEMU
    [rustsbi] misa: RV64ACDFIMSU
    [rustsbi] mideleg: 0x222
    [rustsbi] medeleg: 0xb1ab
    [rustsbi] Kernel entry: 0x80200000
    Hello, world!
    Panicked at src/main.rs:95 It should shutdown!

Cheers to that!

However, this is only a small program that can run on a bare metal, far from being an operating system (that’ s why it is called the trilobite system, for little work can be done) . We still have a lot of cool code to write, lol

The source code can be found at my github: https://github.com/itewqq/rCore-dev


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