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Re: Hurd-related research help requested

From: Tom Hart
Subject: Re: Hurd-related research help requested
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2003 10:12:00 -0600
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Alexander, I've been looking at GNU/Hurd as an undergrad, so I've got a few ideas that build on Niels' that might be of use to you. =)

Niels Möller wrote:

Alexander Ward KULUNGOWSKI <> writes:
Well, I don't really know what's expected of a "research paper", but
some aspects one could focus on

* Translator mechanism in general, and how it allows users to extend
  the system.

* Particular translators, like shadow-fs. As I understand it, it's
  interactino with the rest of the system is not entirely trivial,
  and it might be a good example for really understanding translators
  and the dir_lookup mechanism.
That sounds interesting. As I understand it, symlinks require a degree of support from the operating system, in that there's a filesystem flag that tells you if an inode is a symlink (if I remember what I've read correctly), and there's a hard-coded limit that says "If we go through more than 20 (or whatever the value is) symlinks, then we assume that we've hit a loop in the filesystem."

If you could design a protocol that removes the complications that translators introduce, that would be both an academic paper, and a benefit to the Hurd project.

* Security, the auth protocol, and the mechanisms that allow
  untrusted users to run their own file system servers.
Security has the advantage of being formally-analyzable.

What about the efforts to port Hurd to L4?

That's more fuzzy, or perhaps I should say closer to research. Finding
the right questions to ask may well be harder than actually answering
them ;-)
The IBM/L4 guys are working on their own multi-server, called SawMill, which is based on decomposing Linux into a multi-server.

It seems to me that since multi-servers are known to be an advanced design (from an academic perspective), but little is known about how best to implement them, that you could write a decent paper comparing the approaches of different multi-server designs:
1. GNU/Hurd
2. SawMill (unfortunately, you can only get papers about this, no source or binaries)
3. QNX (you can get some good papers, and free binaries, but no source)

Good luck!

-- Tom Hart

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