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Version 15 (modified by Martin Decky, 11 years ago) (diff)

User's Guide

  1. Quick Start
  2. Console
  3. Text Editing Keys
  4. Shell
  5. Editor
  6. Kernel Console
  7. Building From Source

Quick Start

To try out HelenOS, download the latest IA-32 ISO image from the download page. Install QEMU. In the directory where you downloaded the ISO image run

qemu -m 32 -cdrom image.iso

You can also use a different emulator. Just make sure it is configured to emulate a Pentium 4 or later CPU or HelenOS won't boot and it will display a red error message.


Press the F1-F11 keys to switch between individual virtual consoles. Pressing F12 will take you to the kernel console. You can also switch keyboard layouts with Ctrl-Shift-Fn strokes as follows:

Keystroke Layout
Ctrl-Shift-F1 US QWERTY
Ctrl-Shift-F2 US Dvorak
Ctrl-Shift-F2 Czech QWERTZ

Text Editing Keys

Whenever you are prompted to enter or edit some text, you can use the same common base set of control keys. These should be quite familiar to you as they are similar to the keys used in popular desktop environments.

Keystroke Action
Enter Submit or insert end-of-line
Backspace Delete character to the left of cursor (or delete selection)
Delete Delete character under cursor (or delete selection)
Left Arrow Move cursor left by one character
Right Arrow Move cursor right by one character
Home Move cursor to beginning of text
End Move cursor to end of text
Ctrl-Left Arrow Move cursor left by one word
Ctrl-Right Arrow Move cursor right by one word
Shift-movement Select text
Ctrl-A Select all
Ctrl-C Copy selection to clipboard
Ctrl-X Cut selection to clipboard
Ctrl-V Paste from clipboard


Type help (+Enter) to get a list of built-in commands.

The shell supports common text-editing controls. In addition to that the following controls are defined:

Keystroke Action
Enter Submit and execute the command
Up Arrow Move to older history entry
Down Arrow Move to newer history entry

(Trunk Only) Other command-line driven applications (e.g. SBI) support exactly the same controls as the shell. (The command-line input is implemented in a common library called CLUI).

Text Editor (Trunk only)

Started with the edit command. The editor supports common text-editing controls and in addition, the following controls are defined:

Keystroke Action
Enter Insert line break
Up Arrow Move cursor one line up
Down Arrow Move cursor one line down
Page Up Move cursor up by one page
Page Down Move cursor down by one page
Ctrl-Q Quit
Ctrl-S Save
Ctrl-E Save As

Kernel Console

The kernel console is controlled via a command line. The continue command will take you back to the user-space console. help will show a list of commands. The command line supports completion (Tab key) and history (up and down arrow keys).

Building From Source

Checkout the latest sources from our central Bazaar repository

bzr checkout bzr:// HelenOS

Note: To get versions older than 0.4.1 you have to access the original Subversion repository

svn checkout svn:// HelenOS

Use our script to install a supported cross-compiler toolchain

cd HelenOS/tools
./ ia32

Note: In older revisions of the source tree the script has present in the contrib directory (not the tools directory where it is now).

Go to the source root and start the build process

cd ../..

Load preconfigured defaults for the platform you want to build for and select Done. HelenOS will now be built.

Important note: If you don't compile using the supported toolchain, your build may well fail.