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NICTA micro-kernel trailblazers slurped by US defense giant

General Dynamics buys OK Labs for "provably secure" kernel

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US aerospace and defence company General Dynamics has swooped on Australian virtualisation software developer Open Kernel Labs.

OK Labs’ software currently sits on 1.6 billion devices around the world, enabling security for remote access to corporate and government assets while protecting everything that runs on the device. The start-up which has been incubated by NICTA , specialises in software virtualisation for wireless communications, applications and content for mobile devices and automotive in-vehicle infotainment systems (IVI).

When launched, the OK Labs kernel was described as offering "mathematically provable" freedom from various kinds of errors that needed four years' of work on its 7,500 lines of code.

The acquisition will see the Sydney based R&D team of around 100 engineers s and software developers retained and become part of a new division of the US company. The expansion will be spearheaded by OK Labs co-founder and CEO Steve Subar.

“As part of General Dynamics, we will continue to deliver innovation and excellence in the areas of mobile and automotive virtualisation. I am looking forward to leading this expert team as we meet the growing needs of military, government, and commercial customers,” Subar said. Subar spun the company out of a NICTA project in 2007 where he was previously Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

The original team of 12 developed an operating system micro-kernel, called the secure embedded L4 (seL4) microkernel, mathematically established as free of many types of errors. The development points the road toward "safety-critical software of unprecedented levels of reliability" for applications such as aircraft and cars.

Four years of work went into the micro-kernel development which involved boffins going through 7,500 lines of code written in the C programming language. ®

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