Microsoft researchers outline a 'dependable' OS

Microsoft researchers outline a 'dependable' OS

Summary: Microsoft Research recently published a paper that outlines an operating system that is built from the ground up to be dependable--more reliable, secure and capable. The operating system, called Singularity, focuses on advances in programming languages and tools to replace the current complex, less than reliable architectures and operating systems built in the 128K memory and pre-Internet eras.

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Microsoft Research recently published a paper that outlines an operating system that is built from the ground up to be dependable--more reliable, secure and capable. The operating system, called Singularity, focuses on advances in programming languages and tools to replace the current complex, less than reliable architectures and operating systems built in the 128K memory and pre-Internet eras.

singularity.jpg

With the tyranny of the installed base, operating systems evolve, improve and become more unwieldy, adding on new layers to hide complexity in other layers. Following is a synopsis of Singularity:

Singularity is a micro-kernel operating system that uses advances in programming languages and compilers to build lightweight, software-isolated processes [SIPs], which provide code with protection and failure isolation at lower overhead than conventional, hardware supported processes. Singularity provides an isolation boundary by running verifiably safe programs and by preventing object pointers from passing between processes’ object spaces.

SIPs, in turn, enable a new solution to the problem of code extension in systems and applications. In Singularity’s model, extensions are not loaded into their parent process, but instead run in their own process and communicate over strongly typed channels. This model fixes some of the major problems with extensions, since in Singularity, they cannot directly access their parents’ data or interfaces, and, if they fail, they can be easily terminated by killing their parents.

Singularity is above all a laboratory for exploring interactions among system architecture, programming languages, compilers, specification, and verification. Advances in each of these areas enable and reinforce advances in the others domains, which limits the benefit and impact of studying an area in isolation. Singularity is small and well structured, so it is possible to make changes that span the arbitrary boundaries between these domains. At the same time, it is large and realistic enough to demonstrate the practical advantages of new techniques.

Microsoft's Channel 9 has a video interview, which took place in August, with two of the project leaders.    via Slashdot

Topic: Operating Systems

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  • This is a good idea...

    ...as a matter principle, in that MS is apparently attempting to incorporate a number of "best practices" that have emerged in OS design into a new system, and which may not be reflected in legacy OSs (e.g., Unix and its various variants and Windows) except as add-ons. They'll undoubtedly take hits from pundits from all sides for their efforts, but what they're doing, including announcing it to the world, is still a Good Thing (TM). Whether they will be successful or not, only time and the market will tell.
    dsentman9
  • This is the .Net-based OS

    I remember seeing this earlier on Channel 9. Before all the furor broke in some circles when it was "revealed" that Windows Vista was not going to be written entirely in .Net, as some people misunderstood, Channel 9 carried an article on Singularity, talking about how it was a research project on creating an OS written using the .Net Framework. They use a small machine-language layer to handle the hardware, something the CLR would have difficulty dealing with, and the CLR runs on top of that. It's a minimalist kernel, letting the CLR handle as much of the low-level processes as possible. As several months ago, Singularity was at about the sophistication of DOS. So it'll be a while before it gets up to the level of Windows, if they keep working on it.
    Mark Miller
  • Never happen

    It would mean that the whole installed base of Windows apps would be cut off from the new OS. M$ doesn't have the guts to do that.
    DarthRidiculous
    • Not to mention that

      It would take them 10+ years to develop. Look how long Vista is taking.
      DarthRidiculous
  • The world has several reliable operating systems

    And neither one of them are built by Microsoft. This will just be
    copy of Mac OSX.
    mlindl