[Beowulf] small-footprint MS WIn "MinWin"

Jon Forrest jlforrest at berkeley.edu
Mon Oct 22 11:41:16 PDT 2007

Geoff Jacobs wrote:

> Everybody take a moment to remember how Windows NT was supposed to be an
> elegant, microkernel design.

At one point, in its early history, NT was a microkernel design.
However, since hardware was much slower back then, Microsoft
decided to break down and put some things, like graphics, that
were initially in user-mode "servers" into the kernel.

There were some people who objected to this, saying that the
original pure design resulted in a more reliable OS, since
user-mode bugs couldn't crash the kernel. However, the pragmatists
pointed out that many of these user-mode servers were so critical
to the running of the OS that if a user-mode server died, then
OS became unusable anyway, so what was the point in staying
faithful to the microkernel mantra.

Of course, these days hardware is so fast that microkernels
and VM hypervisors don't add enough overhead for most people
to notice.

Jon Forrest
Unix Computing Support
College of Chemistry
173 Tan Hall
University of California Berkeley
Berkeley, CA
jlforrest at berkeley.edu

More information about the Beowulf mailing list