Poplar's userspace

Poplar supports running programs in userspace on supporting architectures. This offers increased protection and separation compared to running code in kernelspace - as a microkernel, Poplar tries to run as much code in userspace as possible.

Building a program for Poplar's userspace

Currently, the only officially supported language for writing userspace programs is Rust.


Poplar provides custom target files for userspace programs. These are found in the user/{arch}_poplar.toml files.

Standard library

Poplar provides a Rust crate, called std, which replaces Rust's standard library. We've done this for a few reasons:

  • We originally had targets and a std port in a fork of rustc. This proved difficult to maintain and required users to build a custom Rust fork and add it as a rustup toolchain. This is a high barrier of entry for anyone wanting to try Poplar out.
  • Poplar's ideal standard library probably won't end up looking very similar to other platform's, as there are significant ideological differences in how programs should interact with the OS. This is unfortunate from a porting point of view, but does allow us to design the platform interface from the group up.

The name of the crate is slightly unfortunate, but is required, as rustc uses the name of the crate to decide where to import the prelude from. This significantly increases the ergonomics we can provide, so is worth the tradeoff.

The std crate does a few important things that are worth understanding to reduce the 'magic' of Poplar's userspace:

  • It provides a linker script - the linker script for the correct target is shipped as part of the crate, and then the build script copies it into the Cargo OUT_DIR. It also passes a directive to rustc such that you can simply pass -Tlink.ld to link with the correct script. This is, for example, done using RUSTFLAGS by Poplar's xtask, but you can also pass it manually or with another method, depending on your build system.