Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 9th May 2006 21:25 UTC, submitted by luzr
OSNews, Generic OSes Torvalds has indeed chimed in on the micro vs. monolithic kernel debate. Going all 1992, he says: "The whole 'microkernels are simpler' argument is just bull, and it is clearly shown to be bull by the fact that whenever you compare the speed of development of a microkernel and a traditional kernel, the traditional kernel wins. The whole argument that microkernels are somehow 'more secure' or 'more stable' is also total crap. The fact that each individual piece is simple and secure does not make the aggregate either simple or secure. And the argument that you can 'just reload' a failed service and not take the whole system down is equally flawed." My take: While I am not qualified to reply to Linus, there is one thing I want to say: just because it is difficult to program, does not make it the worse design.
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Maybe a complete overhall of the CPU design is required. Instead of working down to thinking of a better Kernel at the bottom of the OS stack, maybe CPUs could be designed differently to support modularisation and message passing and certain kind of simple pseudo-kernel interface calls, wrapped in an exokernel or microkernel on top.

It has been done. For a uniprocessor or shared-memory multiprocessor, even a NUMA system, you don't want true message passing, because it stresses what is already a weak spot in system performance, memory bandwidth.

What you do want is separation of addressability from accessability in the VM design and very fast "VM context" switching, ala the PID approach in processors like the PA-RISC.

Anyway, the majority of problems in OS design come from periphreal interfacing and not CPU architecture. If you really wanted to simplify OS design by simplifying system design, you'd concentrate on the i/o architecture of the system. (IBM 360 channel controllers, anyone?)

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