Paul Ruth, Ph.D.

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Xinu Laboratory

Xinu is a small operating system first developed by Douglas Comer at Purdue University. It was developed to further research and pedagogy of computer systems. Over the years Xinu has been used at many colleges and universities as a platform of teaching advanced systems and networking concepts as well as for the producing of many academic publications. On occasion, Xinu has been used in production environments, such as pinball machines.

More recently, Dennis Brylow at Marquette University has ported Xinu to both the PowerPC and MIPSEL architectures. Porting Xinu to RISC architectures has greatly simplified its implementation increasing its ability to be used as a tool for both teaching and research.

MIPSEL was chosen as a target architecture do to the proliferation of the MIPSEL-based WRT54GL router and the “cool” factor that motivates students be become involved in the projects. The first embedded Xinu systems laboratory based on the WRT54GL router was developed at Marquette University. In collaboration with the Marquette Xinu team, an embedded Xinu laboratory was created at the University of Mississippi laying the groundwork for further work into the development of a Virtual Xinu Laboratory.

University of Mississippi Xinu Laboratory

The Xinu Laboratory the in the University of Mississippi's Department of Computer and Information Science is was created during the summer of 2008. The initial laboratory is based on the Marquette University Embedded Xinu Laboratory.

Xinu Laboratory

The laboratory sits on a a small table in a server room in Weir Hall. The system is composed of a dozen modified Linksys WRT54GL wireless routers, a 32 port Digi Etherlite serial annex, a 24 port 10/100 Mbps Ethernet switch, a BayTech serial controlled power strip, and a bunch of wires. The laboratory is controlled by a standard PC running Debian Linux.

The whole system was less than $3000 (not including the PC).

The WRT54G routers use the MIPSEL architecture and are used as backend devices on which the Xinu embedded operating system runs. The PC runs several daemons which enable and manage the users ability to access the backends.



  • Paul Ruth

Graduate Student(s):

  • Jianshu Zhao (Masters 2009)
  • Patrick Hoover (Masters 2008)

Undergraduate Student(s):

  • Chelsea Norman (Senior Project 2010), link
  • Kevin Kent (Senior Project 2009)

Current Projects

  • Embedded Xinu (Marquette University): The link contains the instructions and software necessary to create your own Xinu laboratory.
  • Virtual Systems Laboratory: Work being performed at the University of Mississippi. We are currently developing the software and research for this project.