Mach interfaces do not allow for proper resource accounting, when a server allocates resources on behalf of a client.

Mach can't do a good job at resource management, as it doesn't have enough information how resources are used: which data is important and which is discardable, for example.

These issues are what Neal Walfield is working on with his new kernel viengoos.


Inside the kernel, there is commonly a need to allocate resources according to externally induced demand, dynamically. For example, for memory-management data structures (page tables), process table entries, thread control blocks, capability tables, incoming network packages, blocks that are read in from disk, the keyboard type-ahead buffer for a in-kernel keyboard driver. Some of these are due to actions driven by user-space requests, others are due to actions internal to the the kernel itself. Some of these buffers can be sized statically (keyboard type-ahead buffer), and are thus unproblematic. Others are not, and should thus be attributed to their user space entities. In the latter (ideal) case, all resources -- that is, including those needed inside the kernel -- that a user space task needs for execution are provided by itself (and, in turn, provided by its parent / principal), and the kernel itself does not need to allocate any resources dynamically out of an its own memory pool. This avoids issues like Mach's zalloc panics upon user space processes allocating too many ports, for example.

fof plos09: Pierre-Evariste Dagand, Andrew Baumann, Timothy Roscoe. Filet-o-Fish: practical and dependable domain-specific languages for OS development. PLOS '09, October 11, 2009, Big Sky, Montana, USA.

sel4: G. Klein, K. Elphinstone, G. Heiser, J. Andronick, D. Cock, P. Derrin, D. Elkaduwe, K. Engelhardt, R. Kolanski, M. Norrish, T. Sewell, H. Tuch, and S. Winwood. seL4: Formal verification of an OS kernel. In Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on OS Principles, Big Sky, MT, USA, October 2009.

In [fof_plos09], the authors describe in section 3 how they model their capability system according to [sel4] using a retype operation that takes an existing capability and produces one or more derived capabilities [...] used to create new kernel-level memory objects (such as page tables or execution contexts) from capabilities to raw regions of RAM.

This is, of course, non-trivial to implement, and also requires changing the RPC interfaces, for example, but it is a valid approach, a research topic.

(open issue documentation: compare this to Linux vmsplice's SPLICE_F_GIFT flag.)

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2011-07-31

< braunr> one of the biggest problems on the hurd is that, when a client
  makes a call, kernel (and other) resources are allocated on behalf of the
  server performaing the requested action
< braunr> performing*
< braunr> this makes implementing scheduling and limits difficult
< CTKArcher> And could changing the kernel change anything to that ?
< braunr> yes but you'd probably need to change its interface as well
< braunr> iirc, the critique describes resource containers
< braunr> but no work has been done on the current hurd (hence the hurdng

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-08-13

In context of

<braunr> teythoon: actually, thread migration isn't required for resource

Mach migrating threads.

<teythoon> braunr: but it solves it for free, doesn't it?
<braunr> teythoon: no
<braunr> it's really more complicated than that

Further Examples

exec server

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-08-05

<teythoon> unzipping stuff in the exec server enables a dos on filesystem
<teythoon> is
  /hurd/hello padded with a gig of zeros, compressed with bzip2
<teythoon> if set as an passive translator, it stalls other requests to the
  filesystem, at least it does if ext2fs is used
<braunr> teythoon: ?
<braunr> teythoon: what's the dos here ?
<teythoon> I can prevent you from doing anything with the root filesystem
<teythoon> I'm kind of surprised myself, maybe a lock is held during the
  exec of the translator?
<teythoon> the filesystem the hello-1g.bz2 translator is bound to is
<braunr> teythoon: i don't understand
<braunr> have you tried starting something from another file system ?
<braunr> the lock may simply be in the exec server itself
<teythoon> no, starting other things works fine
<teythoon> but on the other hand, a find / is stalled
<braunr> :/
<braunr> *sigh*
<teythoon> don't worry
<teythoon> there is a solution :p
<braunr> :)
<teythoon> and it only requires deleting code