Charles Haiber`s presentation on Exokernels

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Paper by Engler, Kaashoek, O’Toole Presentation by Charles Haiber

   Exokernels • • • Overview vs. traditional kernels Library Operating Systems   Design Principals Secure Bindings Visible Resource Revocation  Abort Protocol Testing • Hypothesizes • Results/Conclusion Is it secure?

 The main goal of an exokernel: • The separation of protection from management  Instead of emulating hardware resources, it exports them directly to the applications  In addition to the exokernel, a “Library OS” can act as an abstraction layer between hardware and application

 Fixed, high-level abstractions, provided by kernels to enable as many types of applications to run on the system, tend to have a very high cost in system resources • • • Hurts the performance of applications Hides information from applications Limits the functionality of applications

 Exokernels exist as a thin layer on top of the hardware that multiplexes and exports physical resources securely  The idea is that an application will better know how it wants to manage it’s resources than a monolithic kernel or microkernel

  Multiple Library Operating Systems can exist Exist to provide specialized abstractions • One OS might cater specifically to networking  Library OS are not trusted by the exokernel • They are free to trust the applications • They run on the application level themselves  Allow applications to be ran on any hardware

 Securely expose hardware • Avoid hardware management, except when required for the protection of the system    Expose allocation to Library OS Expose names of physical resources Expose revocation protocol

 Secure Bindings  • Allows applications to securely bind themselves to resources Visible Resource Revocation  • Applications participate in a resource revocation protocol Abort Protocol • The exokernel can forcibly break secure bindings of uncooperative applications

 Protection mechanism that separates authorization from the use of a resource • • Authorization only checked at bind time Applications responsible for resources with complex hardware semantics (networks, file systems, etc.)  • This frees up the exokernel to perform access checks at access time Allows the kernel to protect hardware resources without needing to understand them

 Traditionally, resource revocation is invisible to applications in monolithic and micro-kernels  By exposing resource revocation, the exokernel allows applications and Library OSs to monitor resource usage and act accordingly

 Allows the exokernel to retrieve resources from a Library OS that is not responding to revocation requests • Revocation request – “Please return a memory page”  • Revocation imperative – “Return a memory page within 50 microseconds” Secure binding is broken, and the Library OS sent a repossession exception

 Aegis – an experimental exokernel  • Exports the processor, physical memory, exceptions, interrupts, and network resources ExOS – an experimental Library OS  • Provides processes, virtual memory, user-level exceptions, interprocess abstractions, and several network protocols Ultrix is a mature monolithic Unix-based OS

 Exokernels are very efficient  Low-level, secure multiplexing can be efficient  Traditional OS abstractions can be implemented efficiently at application level  Applications can create special-purpose implementations of these abstractions

• Both Aegis and Ultrix ran on the same hardware  No overhead added to procedure calls  Exception dispatch about 100x faster in Aegis  ExOS’s implementation of pipes about 100x faster

 All four hypothesizes were proven to be correct when compared to Ultrix  Results show that the exokernel design is well suited as a high-performance, extensible OS. Additionally, previous research found that applications benefit greatly from specialized abstractions, and ExOS backed those conclusions up as well

 Total mediation: NO  • OS does very little resource management and only authorizes resource usage at bind time Trustworthy: YES  • Only the exokernel is part of the TCB, with the Library OSs being ran at application level Verifiable: YES •   Kernel is extremely small, with only two goals: Present hardware resources Do so securely

  

Exokernel: An Operating System Architecture for Application-Level Resource Management

• Dawson R. Engler, M. Frans Kaashoek, and James O’Toole Jr., M.I.T. Laboratory for Computer Science

The Operating System Kernel as a Secure Programmable Machine

• Dawson R. Engler, M. Frans Kaashoek, and James O'Toole Jr., M.I.T. Laboratory for Computer Science

The case for application-specific operating systems.

• Thomas E. Anderson, Division of Computer Science, University of California at Berkeley

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