LONDON AdaCore, Open Wide, ENST and LIP6 with financial support from French public funds, is setting up 'Project Coverage', an open source project to produce a Free Software coverage analysis toolset together with artifacts that allow the tools to be used by developers of safety-critical and mission-critical projects, including systems that need to be certified under safety standards such as DO-178B.
Project Coverage, which was detailed at the Safety-Critical Systems Club event in London today, is partially funded by Paris, the Ile-de-France region and the French ministry of the industry, under the auspices of the Free & Open Source Software group headed by Roberto Di Cosmo in System@tic, the R&D competitive cluster located in Paris and its surroundings.
Project Coverage is based on the premise that code coverage can greatly benefit from recent advances in hardware virtualisation and emulation technologies.
“By virtualising the target hardware, Project Coverage tools can execute the target binary code unmodified on a host computer, such as a GNU Linux or Windows machine, and collect binary branch information,” said Olivier Hainque, technical lead of Project Coverage at AdaCore (New York, NY). “The collected information is then analysed off-line and mapped back to the original sources thanks to the debugging information contained in the executable.”
“Our virtualisation technology is based on QEMU. We are extending it, first to output execution traces, including binary branch coverage information, and second to make it usable in industrial contexts typically found in the avionics domain,” added Hainque.
Beyond the production of useful tools and certification material for industrial users, an important goal of the project is to raise awareness and interest about safety-critical and certification issues in the Free Software/Open Source community.
“It’s all about cross-fertilisation between the DO-178B and Free Software/Open Source communities,” said Cyrille Comar, the AdaCore representative on the DO-178C committee. “The DO-178B community, with its approach anchored in requirements-based testing, has shown us that the source isn’t everything in safety-critical systems, while the Open Source community has shown us that being open and having high-quality and widely available tools is essential to extend the benefit of state-of-the-art technologies from niche markets to a wider audience of software developers.”
Franco Gasperoni, AdaCore’s managing director said, “Project Coverage tools will be easy to use and deploy since they run on the host computer. They will be independent of the programming language and will work for Ada, C, and C++. The tools are also designed to be non-intrusive and work directly with the final executable. No specialised hardware will be required to extract coverage information.”
Project Coverage tools will be freely available, and industrial users will have the option to purchase support together with DO-178B qualification material.
Open Wide who will provide an avionics test bed and study the impact of MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 629, and similar avionics standards for Project Coverage while ENST and LIP6 are tasked with generalising the approach to distributed systems and languages running on a virtual machine.
“Being strongly rooted in Free Software and having many customers in the Avionics and DO-178B domain, AdaCore was instrumental in getting this project off the ground,” said Roberto Di Cosmo, President of the Free and Open Source Software group of System@tic, the R&D competitive cluster out of which Project Coverage has grown.