EuroSys 2006
Conference paper

K42: Building a complete operating system

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K42 is one of the few recent research projects that is examining operating system design structure issues in the context of new whole-system design. K42 is open source and was designed from the ground up to perform well and to be scalable, customizable, and maintainable. The project was begun in 1996 by a team at IBM Research. Over the last nine years there has been a development effort on K42 from between six to twenty researchers and developers across IBM, collaborating universities, and national laboratories. K42 supports the Linux API and ABI, and is able to run unmodified Linux applications and libraries. The approach we took in K42 to achieve scalability and customizability has been successful.The project has produced positive research results, has resulted in contributions to Linux and the Xen hypervisor on Power, and continues to be a rich platform for exploring system software technology. Today, K42, is one of the key exploratory platforms in the DOE's FAST-OS program, is being used as a prototyping vehicle in IBM's PERCS project, and is being used by universities and national labs for exploratory research. In this paper, we provide insight into building an entire system by discussing the motivation and history of K42, describing its fundamental technologies, and presenting an overview of the research directions we have been pursuing.