SkiffOS Offers a "Blazing Fast" Minimal OS for Your Single-Board Computers — and More

Compatible with a range of systems from x86 desktops and laptops to the Raspberry Pi, SkiffOS aims to make container portability a cinch.

Gareth Halfacree
2 months agoInternet of Things

Single-board computer users looking to play around with containers have a new option for a host operating system: SkiffOS, a "blazing fast" minimal cross-compiled Linux compatible with the Raspberry Pi, NVIDIA Jetson, and more.

"The primary purpose is to separate the boot-up OS with hardware handling, kernel, and container manager from the user environments," author and project maintainer Christian Stewart explains of SkiffOS' ethos. "This allows updating the host OS independently from the containerized environments with atomic upgrades and downgrades. The host OS appears identical across all the supported device types, because of the configuration layering system retargeting the settings to different platforms."

"Finally you get reproducible behavior with boot up and SSH accessibility with an immutable host OS. If it works once on a test device, it will work across all devices of the same type in your fleet. The system can be upgraded with a simple bash script which rsyncs over a few files over SSH. The build caches all necessary files (thanks to Buildroot) so that future builds can be done offline. The same container works on a [Raspberry] Pi 4, [NVIDIA] Jetson TX2, etc which improves portability of the user environments."

SkiffOS supports a wide range of single-board computers, from older devices like the Odroid C2 and BananaPi M1 to more modern systems like the Raspberry Pi 4 and Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 family. Its hardware support extends beyond these, though, to devices like the PinePhone smartphone and PineBook Pro laptop, x86/64 laptops and desktops, and even the Apple MacBook family pre-M1 chip.

SkiffOS is available to try now on its GitHub repository, where the source code is made available under the permissive MIT license.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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