The Barrelfish Operating System

Barrelfish is a new research operating system being built from scratch and released by ETH Zurich in Switzerland, with assistance from Microsoft Research. We are exploring how to structure an OS for future multi- and many-core systems. We are motivated by two closely related trends in hardware design: first, the rapidly growing number of cores, which leads to a scalability challenge, and second, the increasing diversity in computer hardware, requiring the OS to manage and exploit heterogeneous hardware resources.

For more information, please read our research papers below and see the FAQ.

[Download] [Documentation] [Industry support] [People] [Publications]

News: 10th June 2016

Barrelfish tree moved to GIT
We no longer publish the Barrelfish source code in form of a public mercurial repository, but switch to using git instead. You can browse our repository on our website by visiting
git clone git://


Barrelfish is released under the MIT Open Source license.

The latest release of Barrelfish can now be obtained by anonymous GIT access from our servers. Additionally, the code is available as tar.gz archive.


The Barrelfish source contains a number of technical notes, which are rough-and-ready (and incomplete) documentation, tutorials, reference manuals, etc. for the system. These should be enough to get you started. Here is a recent snapshot - always check the source for the most recent versions:

  1. Overview
  2. Glossary
  3. Mackerel
  4. Hake
  5. Virtual Memory
  6. The Single Chip Cloud Computer
  7. Routing
  8. Tracing Framework
  9. Notifications
  10. Specification
  11. Inter-Dispatcher Communication
  12. Services
  13. Capability Management
  14. Bulk Transfer
  15. Disk Driver Architecture
  16. Serial ports in Barrelfish
  17. Barrelfish on ARM
  18. Barrelfish Practical Guide
  19. Device Drivers in Barrelfish

We have setup a mailing list where you can ask for help or help others working with Barrelfish. You will need to subscribe before posting to the list.

For more research-oriented descriptions of Barrelfish, see our publications.

There is also a public Wiki server for Barrelfish information - please apply for an account if you want to contribute.

Finally, automatically generated documentation using doxygen for the Barrelfish source code can be found here.

Industry support

We would like to thank Microsoft Research, Huawei, and HP Labs for their support.


Barrelfish hackers and friends
Barrelfish hackers and friends, Zurich, August 2009

From the ETH Zurich Systems Group:

From University of Washington:

From Microsoft Research, Redmond:

From Microsoft Research, Silicon Valley:

From Microsoft Research, Cambridge:

Past interns, students, alumni, and other contributors:

Friends and collaborators:


Theses, reports, etc.