[Barrelfish-users] Barrelfish vs. Microkernels?

Simon Peter speter at inf.ethz.ch
Wed Nov 16 16:40:08 CET 2011

Hi Werner,

Since nobody replied so far, here's my take:

I think the design philosophies are not related.

The Microkernel idea is to reduce the trusted code base of an operating 
system by means of service isolation into different protection domains 
(i.e. user-level servers).

The Multikernel idea is to make all inter-core communication explicit, 
make the OS structure hardware-neutral and to view state as replicated 
instead of shared.

In both cases, you end up with a system that runs several servers spread 
out over the system and relies heavily on message passing, though for 
different reasons.

However, this argument might not be so clear-cut. Especially if you look 
at later Mach papers, where they start distributing servers across 
machines. I don't know how much of that was part of the original idea or 
more a fall-out of it.

Hope this helps,

On 15.11.2011 13:02, Haas, Werner wrote:
> Please excuse my ignorance but how does Barrelfish relate to other non-monolithic operating systems? What are the fundamental differences to other microkernel approaches such as Mach or L4? (I am well aware that there is a whole zoo of implementations under these generic names) Is it fair to see multikernels "simply" as extension of microkernels to heterogeneous hardware or is there another design philosophy?
> Thanks,
> Werner
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