XNU, the kernel used in Apple's modern operating systems, including macOS and iOS, has been open source for almost two decades. Despite this, bits relevant to iOS devices and their ARM processors have been closed source until a few days back. This did not stop developers such as winocm from trying to port XNU to run on ARM, as part of the Darwin on ARM project, which got far enough to demonstrate a proof-of-concept kernel booting on a Nokia N900 phone.

A few days back, however, along with releasing XNU source code for macOS High Sierra, Apple made the surprising decision (or perhaps an oversight?) of releasing various portions of ARM and AArch64 (64-bit ARM) code.

Now, Jonathan Levin, operating systems researcher and author of various books on macOS and iOS internals, is seeking developers to create a team that could fill the gaps, such as missing drivers and the iBoot bootloader, to try and get the XNU kernel to build for ARM processors. While the first goal is relatively modest (but still a huge undertaking), it could have deeper implications, as one of the proposed goals includes attempting to boot such a kernel on an actual iOS device.

Such a project will not immediately result in huge advances like a jailbreak or an iOS-powered Android phone, but if it makes steady progress, it could help future macOS and iOS research.

If you happen to be knowledgeable on the subject and would like to contribute to it, the recruitment thread can be found over at his website.

What's your take on this, and the latest developments from Apple? Do you think that this source code release was intentional? Have you already taken a look and found anything interesting? Let us know in the comments below!