Inte rnatio nal Jo urnal o f Sc ie ntific & Eng inee ring Re se arc h, Vo lume 3, Issue 3, Marc h-2012 1

ISS N 2229-5518

JACKY Operating System

Suvankar Barai

Abs tractJACKY is a new operating system kernel f or IBM- PC compatible computers. This kernel is small, f ast, and open source. It operates exclusively in 32-bit mode and f eatures real preemptive mu ltitasking and vir tual me mory. An operating system kernel is a big enough challenge to be discouraging at times. As an example, the command Interpreter I w rote over an one year period is trivi al by comparison. On the other hand, since I do everything by myself I am ab le to keep the develop ment on a unif ied path. The architecture that develops is -- I hope -- consistent (f or better or w orse) and thus the end product ref lects the vision of a single programmer. It can be argued that this is the good, old- f ashioned w ay of producing softw are.

Inde x TermsStability, reliability, and security, Native Graphical environment, Command-line capabilit ies, Netw orkable, Compatible.

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JACKY (Operating System ) is a home- brewed computer operating system kernel, which is still -- and is continually -
- in development. JACKY has initially been designed to support PC- compatible computers. The design and inter- face philosophies of JACKY are driven by the fundamental goal of keeping some of the best features of other successful systems, while discarding many of their notorious wea k- nesses. It follows then, that however many ideas JACKY borrows from other operating environments, it is not -- and does not try to be -- entirely compatible with any of those other systems. Although some aspects of JACKY will probably seem familiar with any other operating environ- ment.
Some of the higher- level conceptual goals are as follows:

1. Stability, reliability, and security. These are primary objectives. Not always achieved, but always important.

2. "Native" Graphical environment

 The base- level graphics server (analogous to an 'X' server in Unix, but not X) will be integrated into the kernel. A default GUI shell environment must load and run "straight out of the box", with no complicated setup procedure.
 The interface must be trivial to learn and use, even
for a computer novice. Most of its elements should be familiar to all computer users. Just like the old computer- industry cliche: "Something my Mom can use".
 Something which might seem like a contradiction
of the previous item: A new metaphor for the GUI
environment. The tried- and- true desk- top/office/files/folders paradigm is becoming a little bit dated. This interface will put a new spin on graphical shell design, without making it unfa- miliar or non- intuitive. Stay tuned for details.
 To the greatest extent possible, the user should be
able to perform all tasks, including administrative ones, using this "point- and- click" interface -- no need to edit mysterious configuration files by hand.

3. Powerful command- line capabilities (text windows and scripting):

 Users must be given the ability to operate in a text- based environment if they prefer to do so.
 Existing popular command shells will be su p- ported. The native command shell will contain fea- tures found in various systems (Unix and non - Unix).
 Most common text- mode commands available on
other popular systems will be included and will, as
much as possible, be use model compatible.
 Some of GNU's Unix- like tools will be available
 To the greatest extent possible, the user should be able to perform all tasks, including administrative ones, using this text interface. Configuring myste- rious configuration files by hand is, therefore, op- tional.

Fig. 1 Co mmand-line in Graphical Environ ment

4. Highly networkable. JACKY will be very network oriented. Stay tuned for more details about this as well.

5. Highly compatible. JACKY will conform to existing

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Inte rnatio nal Jo urnal o f Sc ie ntific & Eng inee ring Re se arc h, Vo lume 3, Issue 3, Marc h-2012 2

ISS N 2229-5518

standards to the greatest extent possible. It is not desirable for JACKY to define new formats (such as a new filesystem type).
Examples of supported standards will include:
 Filesystem types
 Executable/object/library file formats
 Image, sound, font, compression and (enhanced)
text file formats
 Encryption algorithms
 Network protocols
 Software development environment conventions
 Operating system API calls.
 Hardware interface standards (e.g. VESA)
 Basic POSIX compliance, where possible

Fig. 2 Loading File-system and Kernel


JACKY is still in a fairly early stage of development. Cod- ing work was begun as a part- time operation in late 2005. The majority of the code is written in C, with portions wri t- ten in x86 Assembly Language. The present incarnation of JACKY boasts enough features to classify it a promising project, but not enough to ma ke it useful to non- technical users in its current state. The following is a list of impl e- mented and unimplemented functionality; keep in mind that this does not represent the complete list of planned features -- only short- and medium- term goals are listed here:
Implemented (or mostly implemented):
 Fully 32 bits, "protected" mode
 Preemptive multitasking and multi- threading
 Virtual memory, and memory protection
 Flat linear memory management
 Graceful processor fault and exception handling
 Good random number capability
 Filesystem support for: Virtual filesystem API Buf-
fered, asynchronous filesystem IO Multi- threaded filesystem functions and device locking 12, 16, and
32- bit FAT filesystems (commonly used by DOS
and Windows)
Multiple mount points, multiple disk slices, or par- titions, on a single device
 Abstracted loading and management of device
 Delayed event scheduling
 Device support for Single 486, K6/MII/Pentium
processor (or better) RAM above 64Mb Programm- able Interrupt Controller (PIC) System timer chip Real- Time Clock (RTC) chip Keyboard controller Text console IO Direct Memory Access (DMA) con- troller Floppy disk drives Fixed (hard) disk drives.
Partially implemented:

Kernel API

Native command line shell


Standard C library

Unimplemented (or mostly unimplemented):
 Multi-user operation
 Inter- Process Communications (IPC) facility
 IO Protection
 FPU state saves
 Assembler and compiler (ports of NASM/GAS
and gcc)
 Native linker, or satisfactory port of GNU linker, ld
 Support for Elf, a.out, and PE executable formats,
loader relocation
 Dynamically loaded/linked libraries
 Emulation of other operating systems' APIs
 Filesystem support for: Ext2/Ext3 filesystems
(commonly used by Linux) NTFS filesystems (commonly used by Windows NT/2000 and Li- nux) CD-ROM filesystems (ISO9660/Joliet) (others, as demand dictates)
 Device support for: Multiple processors 3DNow!
and MMX processor extension Plug and play PCI
bus devices Modem Network Interface Card (NIC) Printers (many others)


JACKY is developed under Red Hat Linux 9.x, using the
GNU C compiler and the NASM assembler.


This work was supported by Jadavpur University, Kolkata.


[1] Katrin Becker ( at the Universi- ty of Calgary for helpful advice about free- list management in filesystems. I should have paid more attention in class.
[2] John Fine (, Alexei A. Founze(, and the rest of the regular contribu- tors to the comp.lang.asm.x86 and alt.os.development new- sgroups. Thanks for always taking the time to help people. [3] Jerry Coffin ( and Ratko Tomic for

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Inte rnatio nal Jo urnal o f Sc ie ntific & Eng inee ring Re se arc h, Vo lume 3, Issue 3, Marc h-2012 3

ISS N 2229-5518

posting information about alternate text mode video confi- gurations.
[4] Ralf Brown ( for creating and maintain-
ing the indispensable Interrupt List ( iles.html); David Jurgens for HelpPC. Both are excellent PC programming resources.
[5] Frank van Gilluwe for "The Undocumented PC" (Addi-
son-Wesley, ISBN# 0-201-47950-8); Tom Shanley for "Pro-
tected Mode Software Architecture" (Addison- Wesley/Mindshare ISBN# 0 -201-55447-X)
[6] Bob Watson ( for maintaining
the MS-DOS7 Commands page at DOS/Windows installation tools wouldn't work as well as they do without the aid of this site.

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