O.S. Evaluations

Kyriakos Lakkas (klakkas@cs.ucsd.edu)
Mon, 24 Apr 2000 23:02:51 -0700

H. C. Lauer and R. M. Needham, "On the Duality of Operating System Structures," Proc.
Second International Symposium on Operating Systems, IRIA, Oct. 1978 (reprinted in
Operating Systems Review, Vol. 13, No. 2, April 1979, pp. 3-19).

This paper makes an argument about the duality of operating systems. It categorizes operating systems into one of two general categories: message-oriented and procedure-oriented. The conclusion drawn from the analysis is that operating systems constructed using one model do not have an advantage over the other because all functionality can be directly mapped to equivelant primitives in the other model. The reason for prefering one design does not have to do with performance or the applications that the system is intended to support but with the ease of implementation given a specific hardware architecture.

Since the arguments are made given empirical evidence and no system was actually implemented using both models, it is impossible to prove that the two models are in fact duals of each other and that performance would not be affected. It would be interesting to see if systems designed today prefer one model over another or a hybrid of the two and why.

D. D. Clark, "The Structuring of Systems using Upcalls," Proc. Tenth Symposium on
Operating Systems Principles, Operating Systems Review, 19, 5, pp.
171-180, December 1985.