Microsoft's next operating system may start from BSD

Posted 14 Jul 2009 at 20:32 UTC (updated 18 Jul 2009 at 12:44 UTC) by audriusa Share This

Barelfish. Have anybody heard such a beast?

Not somewhere behind the steel walls - in the academic silence of ETH university Microsoft is building the next generation of its operating system. Maybe this single department is not the only place where it is trying – I am more toward thinking this is happening it at least ten places worldwide.

Yet, very interesting to observe such change of strategy. I have discovered this growing project absolutely by chance – it has been announced in the lecture I was present. The lecture was given by the professor on a clearly Linux laptop and covered many great topics on Mach and L4. They really seem knowing a lot of things and they say they put into the new system lots of recent discoveries that neither Windows nor Linux implements. It looks like Microsoft seems understanding itself that having everything secret and locked is actually not so good, at least for beginning – a scientific project with articles and discussions is better. It was kind of surprising to hear such news about a company like this. How this new system is looking like? As I understand, the main focus in on scalability with multiple cores. On usual systems the performance degrades if the heavy traffic between cores is involved – Barrelfish is minimizing all shared state up till level when the cores only exchange explicit messages, avoiding to use any shared memory. Also, instead of fully isolating program from device via driver, Barrelfish has a kind of database where lots of low level information about the hardware can be found. The kernel is single threaded and non preemptive. Scheduling is coupled with the message passing, an arrival of the message simply activates the waiting thread. It also uses a little bit of the microkernel concepts, running drivers in protected space, like L4 and in general pushing a lot into application domains. Well, nobody would post such an article here without knowing that the first release is going to be FOSS – under BSD license. Hence it may well be that in the case of success the Microsoft fork may not be the only. Of course, one may say that it cold be patents on the system, but including lots of ideas from scientific projects also means that these ideas once have been published in the past so not all can be easily patentable. I asked for the code but they say they are not releasing yet. Ok, let's keep watching - this server runs that new operating system.

This is interesting, posted 17 Jul 2009 at 02:41 UTC by Omnifarious » (Journeyer)

But I find the fact they're using the BSD license to be rather ominous. It seems they are learning very well from the Open Source community.

More events, posted 14 Sep 2009 at 07:23 UTC by audriusa » (Journeyer)

Deciding from recent article in Linux devices they are really doing something while that exactly they mean by all this is *very* unclear yet.

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