Phyllome OS


Introduction

Phyllome OS is a local-first, desktop-oriented, free and open-source Linux distribution designed from the ground up to leverage hardware-assisted virtualization.

Its goal is to make it simple to run fast virtual machines locally using off-the-shelf hardware.

Phyllome OS should be easy to contribute to, simple to maintain, and fun to use!

The word "Phyllome" refers to a leaf or a foliar part that has evolved from a leaf.

Attention please

  • The alpha version of Phyllome OS will be released November 15th

  • Phyllome OS is a Fedora Remix based on Fedora Server 34, but has no affiliation with the Fedora project


Okay, but what does it look like?

virtualization

Digital mise en abyme or a computer running in a computer running in a computer. Yes, there are a few turtles on the way down!

This is a screenshot of a proof of concept that relies on the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) module for Linux, QEMU, libvirt, virt-manager and GNOME Shell running on Wayland.

Hardware-wise, a Skylake-based Intel NUC, with IOMMU-based hardware-assisted virtualization enabled, is being used.

  • The guest hypervisor is using a fraction of a physical graphics card through vfio-mdev (Intel GVT-g)
  • The nested-guest is using a virtual graphics card through vfio-gpu (Virgil 3D)

Context

Demystify the cloud

Public clouds provide on-demand computing resources over the Internet. Almost all of them leverage the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) module for Linux.

Alas, there is currently no production-ready desktop-oriented Linux distribution designed from the ground up to leverage KVM locally.

Bring some of the cloud back home

Phyllome's main intent is to piggyback on some software- and hardware-related innovations used by cloud providers and make them available to a wider audience using off-the-shelf hardware, with a focus on performance and usability.


Vision

Virtualize everything

Eventually, using a software-based or so-called 'virtual machine' should become indistinguishable from using a real one.

In Phyllome's case, it would be a feature, not a bug or exploit to be able to use a virtual machine locally that mimics a real one, while at the same time offering more flexibility, as it could be duplicated at will, easily backed up, or migrated to another host for any reasons the user deems fit.

Emphasize usability

Linux will run in the background, hidden in plain sight, while allowing the user to switch to a different operating system if desired. Eventually, the user might even forget the virtual nature of the computing environment.

As such, Phyllome is yet another attempt to bring Linux to the desktop, albeit more covertly this time.

phyllome-Page-3-small

If you are wondering, the platypus is Darwin's mascot. Darwin is an open-source operating system used as the foundation for macOS and iOS.


Use cases

  • Run multiple guest operating systems concurrently

    • Plug in two screens, two sets of keyboards, and two mice to the same PC and spawn two machines to do graphic-intensive tasks such as gaming or 3D modeling. No need to buy another computer, just split the one you already have
  • Painlessly move to new hardware

    • When virtualized, your computer is just a file on Phyllome's disk. You could move it and "reanimate" it on another computer, provided that the targeted host supports hardware-assisted virtualization
  • Run guest hypervisors

    • Recent versions of KVM support nested virtualization, which means you could run multiple hypervisors on the same machine at the same time, including KVM itself
  • Hack firmware

  • Survive the GPU shortage

    • Chips, and Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) in particular, are hard to come by these days due to the ongoing global chip shortage. In the meantime, users may want to put their hardware to better use by splitting it into smaller pieces. Phyllome might help a bit here, provided that it is launched before the end of the so-called crisis
  • Do machine learning stuff

    • Machine learning workloads often require GPUs. Phyllome might help users better leverage those GPUs by distributing them across virtual machines

License and contact

  • License : CC BY-SA 2021 Lukas à Porta, except otherwise noted.

  • Contact : drop me an email at contact@phyllo.me