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Microkernels Address the OS Softspots on Your Network

Jun 16, 2009, 23:01 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Rubens)

"Historically, all enterprise operating systems -- such as Windows, Linux, and UNIX variants (including Solaris and FreeBSD) - have had huge hunks of code at their centers. These run in kernel mode, where they have unrestricted access to all system memory, instructions and attached devices. Now here's the dilemma: code running in kernel mode has the potential to do much more damage to the smooth and secure running of a system than code running in more restricted user mode, but, put simply, it can increase the performance of a system -- especially one with limited resources.

"Many years ago when UNIX and Windows were created, the lack of resources was acute -- hardware was slow by today's standards and memory was severely limited. So to get acceptable performance it made sense to stick device drivers and other system components like Microsoft's Graphics Device Interface (GDI) right in to the kernel . Today, though, performance is no longer an issue as hardware is now far more powerful and has more resources than was common in the past."

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