Stateless Operating System

Problems of undesired statefulness



  • Reasoning hugely increase congnitive load.
  • Not aware of what happens.
  • Much easier to make a mistake, because a change affects almost whole system.


  • ifconfig/iptables/nm-tui/gnome settings/etc
  • Did some tweaks. Forgot about it. Did reboot. Broke everything.

Stateless OS is possible?


  • # of packages, dhcp, etc.
  • NetworkManager configuration and similar.
  • db cache, db data, etc.

Solution 1: Immutable OS

revisioned configuration and revisioned pkgs.

  • f(config, pkgs) -> system
  • f(config, pkgs, encrypted-secrets) -> system + security key

Problem of Reproducibility

You can't make secrets a part of OS.

Desirable workflow

  • Threw out ssd of your localhost, insert new one
  • Boot from usb stick, connect to network
  • Clone rde-config repo
  • cd rde-config
  • [rde partition config.scm /device]
  • rde system init config.scm /device/partition
  • reboot

Init is idempotent

How to achieve? [OS]

  • Pre-configure as much as possible
  • Update only by system reconfigure
  • Erase / with snapshot on each boot
  • Boot the system
  • Make another snapshot
  • Work
  • Diff changes
  • Move state to config

Solution 2: Computing Environment

Immutable OS + User programs with state

Immutability and Small State

Good practice. JG9yA.png

Realistic workflow

rde file systems

  • [rde partition config.scm /device]
  • [rde security-key init /device/partition]
  • rde system init config.scm /device/partition
  • rde state init config.scm /device/partition
  • reboot

How to achieve? [User]

  • Define state components
  • Work
  • Diff changes
  • Eliminate uncontrolled state

How it will look?

  • rde state check-untracked
  • rde state edit # state.scm config
  • rde state sync
  • rde state status

State types

Credentials/secrets (system)

Part of the system + secret key.

  • 2-step deployement


In most cases we do not care.

Remote FS

Revisionable data


No need to init, possible to retrieve manually


Same as

Media (video/pics/music/books/articles)

Can be archiveable or not. Something that we are agree to lose.

Encrypted data


It's obviously possible to reduce the amount of state, but it requires some time to implement such solution.