Instead of attempting a port to another microkernel, or writing an own one, an implementation of a Hurd system could use another existing operating system/kernel, like UNIX, for example, the Linux kernel. This is not a microkernel, but that is not an inherent hindrance; depending on what the goals are.
There has been an attempt for building a Mach on top of POSIX.
IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2012-02-08
Richard's X-15 Mach re-implementation:
<braunr> and in case you didn't notice, it's stalled <braunr> actually i don't intend to work on it for the time being <braunr> i'd rather do as neal suggested: take linux, strip it, and give it a mach interface <braunr> (if your goal really is to get something usable for real world tasks) <antrik> braunr: why would you want to strip down Linux? I think one of the major benefits of building a Linux-Frankenmach would be the ability to use standard Linux functionality alongside Hurd... <braunr> we could have a linux x86_64 based mach replacement in "little" time, with a compatible i386 interface for the hurd <braunr> antrik: well, many of the vfs and network subsystems would be hard to use <antrik> BTW, one of the talks at FOSDEM was about the possibility of using different kernels for Genode, and pariticularily focused on the possibilities with using Linux... unfortunately, I wasn't able to follow the whole talk; but they mentioned similar possibilities to what I'm envisioning here :-)
IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2012-03-28
<mel__> is there currently any work going on with respect to Mach-alternatives? <antrik> mel__: no <antrik> we have other priorities to take care of :-) <braunr> antrik: i still intend to try giving linux a "mach personality" :) <braunr> antrik: but i don't have much time for development currently :( <mel__> antrik: which means that the hope is that Mach can be turned into something really well working (i.e. secure/scalable/etc.)? <antrik> mel__: yes, that's the venue we are pursuing <antrik> (and IMHO the right one... though the Linux layer mentioned by braunr is also one of my favourite projects, that we should pursue *in parallel* to the existing Mach-based implementation) <mel__> what is this Linux Layer exactly? <mel__> a Linux instance running on top of Mach in parallel to Hurd serverS? <braunr> mel__: not exactly <braunr> mel__: it would involve adding a mach layer on top of linux actually <braunr> mel__: so that linux can be used as a mach kernel <mel__> Ah! <mel__> Running Hurd on top of Linux <mel__> :-D <mel__> Funny <braunr> ironic, yes <braunr> but very pragmatic <mel__> and THEN <antrik> yeah. I most like the name: Hurd Emulation Layer on Linux... i.e. HELL :-) <mel__> we use a device driver framework something so that we can use Linux device drivers in Hurd! <mel__> on top of Linux.... <braunr> yes <braunr> i guess a transition phase would include using in kernel drivers directly for a while <mel__> and somebody is working on that? <antrik> mel__: well, for using Linux drivers we are persuing DDE, which allows us doing that with Mach as well <braunr> then grabbing them out of the kernel and into dde <braunr> not yet <antrik> (in fact we have been using Linux drivers since forever... they just haven't been updated for ages) <mel__> I would _guess_ that it is not that hard. <braunr> it's not <mel__> Basically one would need to implement the message passing interface thing in linux I guess. <braunr> and many exported kernel objects like tasks, threads, etc.. <braunr> and implement all the RPCs normally implemented by the kernel <braunr> but it's doable <antrik> mel__: the IPC aspect is one part, but probably the less tricky one. the external pager interface is really the crucial element <mel__> uh <mel__> yeah <mel__> hooking into linux virtual memory stuff <mel__> sounds delicate <braunr> it's true that some interactions between the linux VM and file systems (the linux equivalent of our pagers) is synchronous <braunr> but i don't think it would be that hard considering the amount of facilities available in linux <braunr> it's just work, takes time, needs debugging, reviewing, testing, etc.. <lcc> hurd on top of linux. how would that work? <braunr> 15:30 < braunr> antrik: i still intend to try giving linux a "mach personality" :) <braunr> lcc: 7 system calls and a few hundreds of RPCs on top, the internal magic of course, and voila .. <antrik> of course porting Mach still requires work <mel__> that would then be GNU/Hurd/Linux <mel__> :-) <antrik> hehe <braunr> eh <antrik> braunr: BTW, are you more thinking of a userspace solution on top of standard Linux mechanisms, or additions to Linux itself?... <antrik> (we probably talked about it already, but I don't remember all the details...) <braunr> antrik: adding to linux <antrik> do you think a pure userspace solution would be realistic at all? (at the expense of some performance of course) <mel__> it's probably comparable to the qemu vs. qemu/kvm thing <antrik> yeah, I guess that pretty much sums it up... <braunr> antrik: i don't know :/ <antrik> OK <lcc> how challenging is it to port mach? <antrik> lcc: it requires good low-level knowledge of the platform in question. having that, I guess it shouldn't be too hard to add the necessary code in Mach... <antrik> TBH I'm not sure how much knowledge of Mach internals is required <braunr> the pmap module is the main thing to port <antrik> braunr: well, sartakov seemed to have most trouble with the scheduler when he attempted the ARM port... <braunr> that's strange <antrik> at least there was quite a long thread where he asked about how task switching works in Mach <braunr> ok <braunr> that would be interesting <braunr> i thought intereacting with the hardclock was enough
IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2012-04-05
<braunr> antrik: don't you think HELL is worth a try for the GSoC btw ? <antrik> braunr: definitely. I haven't managed to rework the project ideas list at all this year... but it's something I wanted there for a long time <youngrw> just out of curiousity, what is HELL ? <antrik> Hurd Emulation Layer on Linux <braunr> youngrw: it can be described in several ways <braunr> youngrw: basically, it's a mach interface on top of linux <youngrw> implementing I suppose both the IPC mechanism and memory management interface? <mel__> youngrw: basically that. more generally: implement everything in order to let Hurd run on that layer. <antrik> well, it's slightly more complicated in my view... it's basically anything that allows running a Hurdish environment on top of GNU/Linux. it might be simply an implementation/emulation of Mach mechanisms; but it also *might* work on a slightly higher level... <youngrw> antrik: how might HELL operate at the slighty higher level like you describe? <antrik> let's call it low-level HELL and high-level HELL ;-) <antrik> (a more descriptive name would be hurdenv... but HELL is so much more catchy :-) ) <antrik> so, high-level HELL... basically, the idea would be not to emulate the kernel facilities and run all the real Hurd servers; but instead to use special servers implementing the Hurd interfaces, but on top of standard Linux facilities <antrik> hurdish programs could run in such an environment, as long as they aren't too low-level <antrik> I wonder whether generic RPC interfaces could be implemented with some side channel tunneled though the ordinary Linux FS interfaces... <antrik> so translators would be loaded as FUSE modules for example, but could still present generic interfaces <youngrw> That's actually pretty different from what I was expecting <antrik> what were you expecting? <youngrw> maybe something where the entire kernel interface is emulated by a running user process, like a kind of virtual machine <youngrw> I hope that makes sense--I may be using my words incorrectly. <antrik> youngrw: that would be in the low-level HELL category <youngrw> antrik: right; I had the misconception that the level was defined by how it made use of the underlying linux system <youngrw> and that different HELL designs would always implement the mach interface
IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2012-04-06
<braunr> antrik: i think we have diverging ideas about how to use linux for the hurd <braunr> antrik: what you seem to want are really emulation componants, like e.g. ext2fs and pfinet actually using the linux implementation <braunr> (correct me if i'm mistaken) <braunr> whereas my project is to make linux behave as a mach clone <antrik> braunr: as I said, I consider both variants -- either a high-level HELL or a low-level HELL <braunr> ok <antrik> (or perhaps a mix of both) <braunr> a mix would be best imho <antrik> yeah, probably <braunr> so we have the real hurd, the real mach interface, and a set of native translators (e.g. ext2fs) along some emulating their functionality using linux code (e.g. a hypothetical ext4fs) <antrik> I don't think we would have emulation servers for individual Linux filesystems. rather, a generic server interfacing with the Linux VFS tree... <braunr> ok <antrik> braunr: BTW, I think I mentioned a couple of years ago that the most realistic route towards a modern Mach in my opinion would be taking a modern BSD (or Linux), and redo what the original Mach developers did -- i.e. add the Mach-specific features, and drop the unnecessary UNIX stuff <braunr> antrik: :) <braunr> we had discussions about it some time ago yes <antrik> later I realised that it's better *not* to drop the UNIX interfaces, but rather to keep them in parallel :-) <braunr> antrik: for what purpose ? <braunr> (i can imagine a few, but i'd like to know your idea) <antrik> for the purpose of HELL :-) <braunr> well hell would be the implementation, but what do you keep these unix interfaces for ? <antrik> i.e. people being able to play around with a Hurd environment while staying with their existing system <braunr> yes, i see <braunr> i was considering doing that for development, yes <braunr> uml first, and then i realized i wouldn't need it :) <braunr> then i remembed netbsd and its syscall emulation layer <antrik> also we might leverage some "foreign" userspace infrastructure that way, such as udev <antrik> (in the case of Linux that is... not sure whether NetBSD has something similar at all ;-) ) <braunr> i'll have to check, it's been a long time since i've really used it <braunr> they must use a pure devfs instance now
IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2014-02-23
<desrt> so crazy idea: would it be possible to have mach as a linux kernel module? <desrt> ie: some new binfmt type thing that could load mach binaries and implement the required kernel ABI for them <desrt> and then run the entire hurd under that.... <braunr> desrt: that's an idea, yes <braunr> and not a new one * desrt did a bit of googling but didn't find any information about it <braunr> desrt: but why are you thinking of it ? <braunr> we talked about it here, informally <desrt> braunr: mostly because running hurd in a VM sucks <desrt> if we had mach-via-linux, we'd have: <desrt> - no vm overhead <desrt> - no device virtualisation <desrt> - 64bit (physical at least) memory support <desrt> - SMP <desrt> - access to the linux drivers, natively <desrt> and maybe some other nice things <braunr> yes we talkbed about all this <braunr> but i still consider that to be an incomplete solution <desrt> i don't consider it to be running "the hurd" as your OS... but it would be a nice solution for development and virtualisation <braunr> we probably don't want to use drivers natively, since we want them to run in their own address space, with their own namespace context <braunr> it would, certainly <braunr> but it would require a lot of effort anyway <desrt> right