Open Kernel Labs

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Open Kernel Labs
FateAcquired by General Dynamics C4 Systems
HeadquartersChicago, Il, USA
Key people
Steve Subar, founder and CEO, Gernot Heiser, founder and CTO
ProductsOKL4 microkernels and hypervisor

Open Kernel Labs (OK Labs) is a privately owned company that develops microkernel-based hypervisors and operating systems for embedded systems. The company was founded in 2006 by Steve Subar and Gernot Heiser as a spinout from NICTA. It is headquartered in Chicago, while research and development was located in Sydney, Australia. The company was acquired by General Dynamics in September 2012.[1]


OKL4 Microvisor[edit]

OKL4 is an open source system software platform for embedded systems that can be used as a hypervisor as well as a simple real-time operating system with memory protection. The OKL4 Microvisor is a variant of the L4 microkernel. The OKL4 Microvisor is a Type I hypervisor and runs on single- and multi-core platforms based on ARM, x86 and MIPS processors.[2]

OKL4 has been deployed on over 2 billion mobile phones,[3] both as a baseband operating system and for hosting guest operating systems. Most notable and visible is the company's design win at Motorola for the Evoke QA4 messaging phone, the first phone which employs virtualization to support two concurrent operating systems (Linux and BREW) on a single processor core.[4]

Paravirtualized guest OSes[edit]

OK Labs also supplies ready-to-integrate paravirtualized guest application operating systems, including OK:Symbian (SymbianOS), OK:Linux (Linux), OK:Windows (Windows) and OK:Android (Android).

Hardware virtualization[edit]

The OKL4 Microvisor supports ARM hardware virtualization extensions, as introduced in the Cortex-A15 processor. The use of hardware virtualization greatly reduces the changes required to a guest OS.


OK Labs and OKL4 are the result of collaboration among academia, business, and open-source development. OK Labs technology is derived from the L4 microkernel which originated in the early 1990s at German research Lab GMD, further developed at IBM Watson Research Center, the University of Karlsruhe in Germany, the University of New South Wales and NICTA. As commercial ventures, OK Labs and OKL4 were launched by NICTA in 2006, with additional investment by Citrix and other venture partners. OK Labs technology continues to benefit from ties to academia and research projects, to NICTA, and to the global open-source community.


The company was acquired by General Dynamics in September 2012 and has since closed its Sydney office. In February 2014, Cog Systems was founded by former Open Kernel Labs staff and continues OKL4 development in Sydney. In April 2019, Cog Systems went into liquidation and closed.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ General Dynamics acquires NICTA start-up Open Kernel Labs. NICTA, September 12, 2012.
  2. ^ "FrontPage - Developer". 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  3. ^ "Microvisor Products - General Dynamics Mission Systems". General Dynamics Mission Systems. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  4. ^ "A Google Company". Motorola. 2013-12-30. Archived from the original on May 1, 2011. Retrieved 2014-02-02.

External links[edit]