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Talking Tock

Talking Tock 25

Towards 1.0, new design coming and a new paper

This is the 25th post in a series tracking the development of Tock, a safe multi-tasking operating system for microcontrollers.

  1. The Case for Writing a Kernel in Rust
  2. Website redesign
  3. Towards Tock 1.0
  4. Pull Requests
    1. Merged
    2. Proposed

The Case for Writing a Kernel in Rust

Ok, this one is a teaser. A short paper we wrote about why you should write a kernel in Rust was accepted to ACM Asia-Pacific Workshop on Systems (APSys). It is a sort of follow on to the much discussed “Ownership is Theft” we published a couple years ago, and discusses some of the solutions we found (or were found for us) to problems raised in that paper, as well as describes how using Rust allows an incredibly small trusted computing base for a safe kernel.

Stay tuned for a write-up on the paper, and the paper itself, when we’ve addressed comments from the reviewers.

Website redesign

The Tock website is getting a new look! You can check out the draft version here: It should work reasonably well on mobile, though still working out a few kinks. Feedback is welcome, and if you’re have mad CSS/HTML/Jekyll/design skillz and want to contribute, we’d also welcome your help (@alevy did this version, and he still writes CSS like it’s the blink tag exists). The website repo is at

Towards Tock 1.0

We’re gearing up to release a 1.0 version of Tock. As of our most recent discussions, the 1.0 version will focus on low power and binary stability—meaning applications compiled for a 1.0 system call interface should work on any kernel that claims a 1.0 system call interface, regardless of the version of libtock you use. The goal is to make it possible to start distributing .tab files (archives of compiled Tock binaries) in a meaningful way, as well as to support more runtime libraries (e.g. the Rust and Lua runtimes).

We won’t be able to stabalize every driver’s system call interface, but we plan to cover the basics: timers, debug console, LEDs, buttons, GPIOs and handful of high-level sensor drivers (accelerometer/magnetometer, light, temperature, pressure, etc). Notably absent are 802.15.4 and BLE radios. Support for those exist, but they are still very much in progress, and we think it’s important to get those right before commiting to interface stability.

Kernel interfaces (the HIL) will not be stabilized in this version. They are becoming more and more stable, but still seeing reasonably significant changes as we find previous versions insufficient to support more advanced features like low power and clock management. If you are (or want to) developing ports of Tock for different chips or board, this is good and bad. It’s bad because it means you have to stay up to date with changes by talking to us through the mailing list and IRC (wait is that bad or actually good?), and good because it means if you find places where the interfaces fall short there is still plenty of room to make changes.

Pull Requests