Operating systems are traditionally implemented in low- level, performance-oriented programming languages. These languages typically rely on minimal runtime support and provide unfettered access to the underlying hardware. Tra- dition has benefits: developers control the resources that the operating system manages and few performance bottle- necks cannot be overcome with clever feats of programming. On the other hand, this makes operating systems harder to understand and maintain. Furthermore, those languages have few built-in barriers against bugs. This paper is an ex- periment in side-stepping operating systems, and pushing functionality into the runtime of high-level programming languages. The question we try to answer is how much sup- port is needed to run an application written in, say, Smalltalk or Python on bare metal, that is, with no underlying oper- ating system. We present a framework named NopSys that allows this, and we validate it with the implementation of CogNos a Smalltalk virtual machine running on bare x86 hardware. Experimental results suggest that this approach is promising.
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