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Hurd Critique and position paper available

From: Thomas Schwinge
Subject: Hurd Critique and position paper available
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 2007 19:30:21 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.11


The following was just installed on the homepage, <>,
but I wanted to take the chance to present it here as well:

14 January 2007

Neal Walfield and Marcus Brinkmann have written and submitted for publication
``A Critique of the GNU Hurd Multi-server Operating System''
(<>) and a
position paper ``Improving Usability via Access Decomposition and Policy
(<>).  Please
follow the two preceding links to see the complete announcements.  The authors
welcome comments and discussion which may be directed to the <>
mailing list for the Critique and to the <> mailing list for the
position paper.

The abstract of the Critique:

  The GNU Hurd's design was motivated by a desire to rectify a number of
  observed shortcomings in Unix.  Foremost among these is that many policies
  that limit users exist simply as remnants of the design of the system's
  mechanisms and their implementation. To increase extensibility and
  integration, the Hurd adopts an object-based architecture and defines
  interfaces, which, in particular those for the composition of and access to
  name spaces, are virtualizable.

  This paper is first a presentation of the Hurd's design goals and a
  characterization of its architecture primarily as it represents a departure
  from Unix's.  We then critique the architecture and assess it in terms of the
  user environment of today focusing on security.  Then follows an evaluation
  of Mach, the microkernel on which the Hurd is built, emphasizing the design
  constraints which Mach imposes as well as a number of deficiencies its design
  presents for multi-server like systems.  Finally, we reflect on the
  properties such a system appears to require.

The abstract of the position paper:

  Commodity operating systems fail to meet the security, resource management
  and integration expectations of users.  We propose a unified solution based
  on a capability framework as it supports fine grained objects,
  straightforward access propagation and virtualizable interfaces and explore
  how to improve resource use via access decomposition and policy refinement
  with minimum interposition.  We argue that only a small static number of
  scheduling policies are needed in practice and advocate hierarchical policy
  specification and central realization.


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