Microsoft’s New Operating System: Singularity

Check this out: a new "In the Lab Only" operating system called Singularity.

From their website:

Singularity is a research project focused on the construction of dependable systems through innovation in the areas of systems, languages, and tools. We are building a research operating system prototype (called Singularity), extending programming languages, and developing new techniques and tools for specifying and verifying program behavior.

Advances in languages, compilers, and tools open the possibility of significantly improving software. For example, Singularity uses type-safe languages and an abstract instruction set to enable what we call Software Isolated Processes (SIPs). SIPs provide the strong isolation guarantees of OS processes (isolated object space, separate GCs, separate runtimes) without the overhead of hardware-enforced protection domains. In the current Singularity prototype SIPs are extremely cheap; they run in ring 0 in the kernel’s address space.

Singularity uses these advances to build more reliable systems and applications. For example, because SIPs are so cheap to create and enforce, Singularity runs each program, device driver, or system extension in its own SIP. SIPs are not allowed to share memory or modify their own code. As a result, we can make strong reliability guarantees about the code running in a SIP. We can verify much broader properties about a SIP at compile or install time than can be done for code running in traditional OS processes. Boarder application of static verification is critical to predicting system behavior and providing users with strong guarantees about reliability.

From Channel 9 (emphasis mine):

Besides Singularity’s kernel being successfully written in C# (how cool is that!), there are all kinds of interesting lessons learned with respect to what a managed OS enables. Again, this is a prototype research OS, not a full fledged OS that can run the typical applications you’ve come to expect of an OS (or even provide a user interface beyond, say, that of DOS).


P.S. I wonder if it could be compiled in Mono…

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