The goal of Phyllome OS is to make it possible to run most operating systems locally on most hardware.
An operating system must have drivers to allow it to interact with hardware components and devices such as USB controllers or graphic cards. Each driver has to be specifically written to work with a particular operating system. To support running most operating systems on a specific piece of hardware, one would have to develop and maintain a set of drivers for each one those operating systems, an almost insurmountable task as there are dozen unique operating systems out there.
Most of the time, users pick hardware that ships with their favorite operating system: most hardware is tied to a specific operating system. Therefore, user choice is severely restricted to only a certain set of computers . Isn’t there a shortcut available, to allow users to run their favorite operating system on most hardware, provided that the operating system license allows it?
Virtualization provides a partial answer to this problem as it allows the abstraction of the underlying hardware, presenting generic software-based hardware to the operating system. In other words, by means of virtualization, a specific physical computer can be made to look generic to an operating system.
There are many types of virtualization. Phyllome OS is primarily focused on paravirtualization, which assumes that an operating system running in a virtualized environment is aware of it. For any operating systems to run well in such an environment, one would only have to focus on developing and maintaining a set of generic drivers for virtual hardware, a task that is well under way for many popular operating systems, including Linux-based, Darwin-based or Windows NT-based operating systems
Virtualization, however, is only a partial answer to this problem. Allowing compatibility with physical hardware, including USB controllers or graphic cards, one would still need to use a base operating system that can provide software to drive these physical devices. Most Linux distributions, including as Fedora or Debian, ship with a large selection of such drivers, and as such represent another part of the solution to this problem. Moreover, for certain hardware such as Network Interface Cards (NICs), Linux drivers are now shipping first. In other words, the industry is developing drivers for Linux first, at least for certain categories of components
Let’s wrap it up: the idea behind Phyllome OS is to rely on Linux to provide drivers for specific hardware components and virtualization to provide a limited set of generic virtualized hardware that are already or could be made to work with most operating systems. The burden of hardware compatibility is put on Linux, freeing the operating system underneath, which would only need to provide generic virtual hardware drivers.
Technically speaking, Phyllome OS is an operating system, a free and open source Linux distribution, a Fedora Remix based on Fedora Server designed to leverage hardware-assisted virtualization to run graphically-accelerated UNIX and non-UNIX-based operating systems locally, in a virtual machine, using off-the-shelf hardware and open source software.
Popular and proprietary operating systems such as macOS Big Sur or Windows 11 are optimized to only run on a limited set of computers. This state of affairs significantly limits users’ choice and may incite them to renew their hardware frequently, as operating systems providers may decide to drop support for older hardware models for any number of reasons. ↩︎
For instance, to provide storage block capacity, a developer of a specific operating system like Sculpt OS or ReactOS would only need to develop support for virtio-blk for its environment, and resort to Linux to interact with the hardware directly. ↩︎