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KernelTrap.com: Interview: Neal Walfield of GNU/Hurd

Nov 12, 2001, 18:20 (6 Talkback[s])
Neal Walfield: The Hurd is a set of servers that provide similar interfaces to those found in traditional Unix-like kernels. The servers, each designed to do one task or manage one aspect of the system, run in user space thereby isolating them from both the kernel and each other. This offers more power and flexibility to both the administrator and the user and, in doing so, increases system security.

When Unix was created more than thirty years ago, certain compromises, which given the resources available at the time, made sense. Time passed and both Unix and computers evolved. However, the initial compromises, which required rearchitecting central parts of the system to fix, became design flaws. The Hurd is one reaction to these defects.

The central concept of the Hurd is that the user is empowered yet isolated from the system. This does not, and cannot, exist in Unix: there is just too much core functionality that lives in the kernel. Why is this bad? Well, it means that parts of the system a user could take advantage of become off limits.

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