open issue documentation

A bunch of this should also be covered in other (introductionary) material, like Bushnell's Hurd paper. All this should be unfied and streamlined.

Introduction to the Hurd System

The lowest base of the GNU/Hurd system is GNU Mach. GNU Mach is a microkernel, which provides interprocess communication (IPC), memory management, and a scheduler. The Hurd servers runs on top of GNU Mach to implement various userspace servers that would ordinarily reside in the kernel, including the filesystem, device drivers, TCP/IP stack, and others. The GNU/Hurd system implements POSIX with glibc. Almost all POSIX calls to glibc are re-routed to the Hurd servers. Some of the Hurd servers depend on GNU Mach, while other Hurd servers depend on other Hurd servers.


Take a look at the bootstrap page. There is an alternative proposal for an different bootstrap.

hurd init

Hurd Booting Process

When grub starts running, it loads the root filesystem, the exec server, and starts GNU Mach. GNU Mach then starts the servers in turn according to the multiboot information grub gave it. Additionally the rootfs server does some bootstrapping work to bring the start the other servers.

IRC, freenode, #hurd booting process, 2011-03-12

<dEhiN> when mach first starts up, does it have some basic i/o or fs
  functionality built into it to start up the initial hurd translators?
<antrik> I/O is presently completely in Mach
<antrik> filesystems are in userspace
<antrik> the root filesystem and exec server are loaded by grub
<dEhiN> o I see
<dEhiN> so in order to start hurd, you would have to start mach and
  simultaneously start the root filesystem and exec server?
<antrik> not exactly
<antrik> GRUB loads all three, and then starts Mach. Mach in turn starts
  the servers according to the multiboot information passed from GRUB
<dEhiN> ok, so does GRUB load them into ram?
<dEhiN> I'm trying to figure out in my mind how hurd is initially started
  up from a low-level pov
<antrik> yes, as I said, GRUB loads them
<dEhiN> ok, thanks antrik...I'm new to the idea of microkernels, but a
  veteran of monolithic kernels
<dEhiN> although I just learned that windows nt is a hybrid kernel which I
  never knew!
<rm> note there's a /hurd/ext2fs.static
<rm> I belive that's what is used initially... right?
<antrik> yes
<antrik> loading the shared libraries in addition to the actual server
  would be unweildy
<antrik> so the root FS server is linked statically instead
<dEhiN> what does the root FS server do?
<antrik> well, it serves the root FS ;-)
<antrik> it also does some bootstrapping work during startup, to bring the
  rest of the system up

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2014-01-03

<teythoon> hmpf, the hurd bootstrapping process is complicated and fragile,
  maybe to the point that it is to be considered broken
<teythoon> aiui the hurd uses the filesystem for service lookup
<teythoon> older mach documentation suggests that there once existed a name
  server instead for this purpose
<teythoon> the hurd approach is elegant and plan9ish
<teythoon> the problem is in the early bootstrapping
<teythoon> what if the root filesystem is r/o and there is no /servers or
  /servers/exec ?
<teythoon> e. g. rm /servers/exec && reboot -> the rootfs dies early in the
  hurd server bootstrap :/
<braunr> well yes
<braunr> it's normal to have such constraints
<teythoon> uh no
<braunr> at the same time, the boot protocol must be improved, if only to
  support userspace disk drivers
<teythoon> totally unacceptable
<braunr> why not ?
<teythoon> b/c my box just died and lost it's exec node
<braunr> so ?
<braunr> loosing the exec node is unacceptable
<youpi> well, linux dies too if you don't have /dev populated at least a
<braunr> not being able to boot without the "exec" service is pretty normal
<braunr> the hurd turns the vfs into a service directory
<teythoon> the exec service is there, only the lookup mechanism is broken
<braunr> replacing the name server you mentioned earlier
<teythoon> yes
<braunr> if you don't have services, you don't have them
<braunr> i don't see the problem
<braunr> the problem is the lookup mechanism getting broken
<teythoon> ... that easily
<braunr> imagine a boot protocol based on a ramfs filled from a cpio
<teythoon> i do actually ;)
<braunr> there would be no reason at all the lookup mechanism would break
<teythoon> yes
<teythoon> but the current situation is not acceptable
<braunr> i agree
<teythoon> ^^
<braunr> ext2fs is too unreliable for that
<braunr> but using the VFS as a directory is more than acceptable
<braunr> it's probably the main hurd feature
<teythoon> yes
<braunr> i see it rather as a circular dependency problem
<braunr> and if you have good ideas, i'm all ear for propel ... :>
<braunr> antrik already talked about some of them for the bootstrap
<braunr> we should sum them up somewhere if not done already
<teythoon> i've been pondering how to install a tmpfs translator as root
<teythoon> braunr: we could create a special translator for /servers
<braunr> maybe
<teythoon> very much like fakeroot, it just proxies messages to a real
<teythoon> but if operations like settrans fail, we handle them
  transparently, like an overlay
<braunr> i consider /servers to be very close to /dev
<teythoon> yes
<braunr> so something like devfs seems obvious yes
<braunr> i don't even think there needs to be an overlay
<teythoon> y not ?
<braunr> why does /servers need real nodes ?
<teythoon> for persistence
<braunr> what for ?
<teythoon> e.g. crash server selection
<braunr> hm ok
<teythoon> network configuration
<braunr> i personally wouldn't make that persistent
<braunr> it can be configured in files and installed at boot time
<teythoon> me neither, but that's how it's currently done
<braunr> are you planning to actually work on that soon ?
<teythoon> if we need no persistence, we can just use tmpfs
<braunr> it wouldn't be a mere tmpfs
<teythoon> it could
<braunr> it's a tmpfs that performs automatic discovery and registration of
  system services
<teythoon> with some special wrapper that preserves e.g. /servers/exec
<teythoon> oh
<braunr> so rather, devtmpfs
<teythoon> it is o_O :p
<braunr> ?
<braunr> what is what ?
<teythoon> well, it could be a tmpfs and some utility creating the nodes
<braunr> whether the node management is merged in or separate doesn't
  matter that much i guess
<braunr> i'd personally imagine it merged, and tmpfs available as a
  library, so that stuff like sysfs or netstatfs can easily be written

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2014-02-12

<teythoon> braunr: i fixed all fsys-related receiver lookups in libdiskfs
  and surely enough the bootstrap hangs with no indication whats wrong
<braunr> teythoon: use mach_print :/
<teythoon> braunr: the hurd bootstrap is both fragile and hard to tweak in
  interesting ways :/
<braunr> teythoon: i agree with that
<braunr> teythoon: maybe this will help :
<braunr> although i guess you probably already know that
<teythoon> heh, unicode for the win >,<
<braunr> :/

Source Code Documentation

Provide a cross-linked sources documentation, including generated files, like RPC stubs.

Hurd 101

IO path

Need more stuff like that.

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2011-10-18

<frhodes> what happens @ boot. and which translators are started in what
<antrik> short version: grub loads mach, ext2, and; mach starts
  ext2; ext2 starts exec; ext2 execs a few other servers; ext2 execs
  init. from there on, it's just standard UNIX stuff

IRC, OFTC, #debian-hurd, 2011-11-02

<sekon_> is __dir_lookup a RPC ??
<sekon_> where can i find the source of __dir_lookup ??
<sekon_> grepping most gives out rvalue assignments 
<sekon_> -assignments 
<sekon_> but in hurs/fs.h it is used as a function ??
<pinotree> it should be the mig-generated function for that rpc
<sekon_> how do i know how its implemented ??
<sekon_> is there any way to delve deeprer into mig-generated functions 
<tschwinge> sekon_: The MIG-generated stuff will either be found in the
  package's build directory (if it's building it for themselves), or in the
  glibc build directory (libhurduser, libmachuser; which are all the
  available user RPC stubs).
<tschwinge> sekon_: The implementation can be found in the various Hurd
<tschwinge> sekon_: For example, [hurd]/libdiskfs/dir-lookup.c.
<tschwinge> sekon_: What MIG does is provide a function call interface for
  these ``functions'', and the Mach microkernel then dispatches the
  invocation to the corresponding server, for example a /hurd/ext2fs file
  system (via libdiskfs).
<tschwinge> sekon_: This may help a bit:

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2012-01-08

<abique> can you tell me how is done in hurd:  "ls | grep x" ?
<abique> in bash
<youpi> ls's standard output is a port to the pflocal server, and grep x's
  standard input is a port to the pflocal server
<youpi> the connexion between both ports inside the pflocal server being
  done by bash when it calls pipe()
<abique> youpi, so STDOUT_FILENO, STDIN_FILENO, STDERR_FILENO still exists
<youpi> sure, hurd is compatible with posix
<abique> so bash 1) creates T1 (ls) and T2 (grep), then create a pipe at
  the pflocal server, then connects both ends to T1 and T2, then start(T1),
  start(T2) ?
<youpi> not exactly
<youpi> it's like on usual unix, bash creates the pipe before creating the
<youpi> then forks to create both of them, handling them each side of the
<abique> ok I see
<youpi> s/handling/handing/
<abique> but when you do pipe() on linux, it creates a kernel object, this
  time it's 2 port on the pflocal ?
<youpi> yes
<abique> how are spawned tasks ?
<abique> with fork() ?
<youpi> yes
<youpi> which is just task_create() and duplicating the ports into the new
<abique> ok
<abique> so it's easy to rewrite fork() with a good control of duplicated
<abique> about threading, mutexes, conditions, etc.. are kernel objects or
  just userland objects ?
<youpi> just ports
<youpi> (only threads are kernel objects)
<abique> so, about efficiency, are pipes and mutexes efficient ?
<youpi> depends what you call "efficient"
<youpi> it's less efficient than on linux, for sure
<youpi> but enough for a workable system
<abique> maybe hurd is the right place for a userland thread library like
  pth or any fiber library
<abique> ?
<youpi> hurd already uses a userland thread library
<youpi> libcthreads
<abique> is it M:N ?
<youpi> libthreads, actually
<youpi> yes

Actually, the Hurd has never used an M:N model. Both libthreads (cthreads) and libpthread use an 1:1 model.

<abique> nice
<abique> is the task scheduler in the kernel ?
<youpi> the kernel thread scheduler, yes, of course
<youpi> there has to be one
<abique> are the posix open()/readdir()/etc... the direct vfs or wraps an
  hurd layer libvfs ?
<youpi> they wrap RPCs to the filesystem servers
<antrik> the Bushnell paper is probably the closest we have to a high-level
  documentation of these concepts...
<antrik> the Hurd does not have a central VFS component at all. name
  lookups are performed directly on the individual FS servers
<antrik> that's probably the most fundamental design feature of the Hurd
<antrik> (all filesystem operations actually, not only lookups)

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2012-01-09

<braunr> youpi: are you sure cthreads are M:N ? i'm almost sure they're 1:1
<braunr> and no modern OS is a right place for any thread userspace
  library, as they wouldn't have support to run threads on different
  processors (unless processors can be handled by userspace servers, but
  still, it requires intimate cooperation between the threading library and
  the kernel/userspace server in any case
<youpi> braunr: in libthreads, they are M:N
<youpi> you can run threads on different processors by using several kernel
  threads, there's no problem in there, a lot of projects do this
<braunr> a pure userspace library can't use kernel threads
<braunr> at least pth was explacitely used on systems like bsd at a time
  when they didn't have kernel threads exactly for that reason
<braunr> explicitely*
<braunr> and i'm actually quite surprised to learn that we have an M:N
  threading model :/
<youpi> why do you say "can't" ?
<braunr> but i wanted to reply to abique and he's not around
<youpi> of course you need kernel threads
<youpi> but all you need is to bind them
<braunr> well, what i call a userspace threading library is a library that
  completely implement threads without the support of the kernel
<braunr> or only limited support, like signals
<youpi> errr, you can't implement anything with absolutely no support of
  the kernel
<braunr> pth used only SIGALRM iirc
<youpi> asking for more kernel threads to use more processors doesn't seem
<braunr> it's not
<braunr> but i'm refering to what abique said
<braunr> 01:32 < abique> maybe hurd is the right place for a userland
  thread library like pth or any fiber library
<youpi> well, it's indeed more, because the glibc lets external libraries
  provide their mutex
<youpi> while on linux, glibc doesn't
<braunr> i believe he meant removing thread support from the kernel :p
<youpi> ah
<braunr> and replying "nice" to an M:N threading model is also suspicious,
  since experience seems to show 1:1 models are better
<youpi> "better" ????
<braunr> yes
<youpi> well
<youpi> I don't have any time to argue  about that
<youpi> because that'd be extremely long
<braunr> simpler, so far less bugs, and also less headache concerning posix
<youpi> but there's no absolute "better" here
<youpi> but less performant
<youpi> less flexible
<braunr> that's why i mention experience :)
<youpi> I mean experience too
<braunr> why less performant ?
<youpi> because you pay kernel transition
<youpi> because you don't know anything about the application threads
<youpi> etc.
<braunr> really ?
<youpi> yes
<braunr> i fail to see where the overhead is
<youpi> I'm not saying m:n is generally better than 1:1 either
<youpi> thread switch, thread creation, etc.
<braunr> creation is slower, i agree, but i'm not sure it's used frequently
  enough to really matter
<youpi> it is sometimes used frequently enough
<youpi> and in those cases it would be a headache to avoid it
<braunr> ok
<braunr> i thought thread pools were used in those cases
<youpi> synchronized with kernel mutexes ?
<youpi> that's still slow
<braunr> it reduces to the thread switch overhead
<braunr> which, i agree is slightly slower
<braunr> ok, i's a bit less performant :)
<braunr> well don't futexes exist just for that too ?
<youpi> yes and no
<youpi> in that case they don't help
<youpi> because they do sleep
<youpi> they help only when the threads are living
<braunr> ok
<youpi> now as I said I don't have to talk much more, I have to leave :)

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2012-12-06

<braunr> spiderweb: have you read ?
<spiderweb> I'll have a look.
<braunr> and also the beginning of
<braunr> these two should provide a good look at the big picture the hurd
  attemtps to achieve
<Tekk_> I can't help but wonder though, what advantages were really
  achieved with early mach?
<Tekk_> weren't they just running a monolithic unix server like osx does?
<braunr> most mach-based systems were
<braunr> but thanks to that, they could provide advanced features over
  other well established unix systems
<braunr> while also being compatible
<Tekk_> so basically it was just an ease of development thing
<braunr> well that's what mach aimed at being
<braunr> same for the hurd
<braunr> making things easy
<Tekk_> but as a side effect hurd actually delivers on the advantages of
  microkernels aside from that, but the older systems wouldn't, correct?
<braunr> that's how there could be network file systems in very short time
  and very scarce resources (i.e. developers working on it), while on other
  systems it required a lot more to accomplish that
<braunr> no, it's not a side effect of the microkernel
<braunr> the hurd retains and extends the concept of flexibility introduced
  by mach
<Tekk_> the improved stability, etc. isn't a side effect of being able to
  restart generally thought of as system-critical processes?
<braunr> no
<braunr> you can't restart system critical processes on the hurd either
<braunr> that's one feature of minix, and they worked hard on it
<Tekk_> ah, okay. so that's currently just the domain of minix
<Tekk_> okay
<Tekk_> spiderweb: well, there's 1 advantage of minix for you :P
<braunr> the main idea of mach is to make it easy to extend unix
<braunr> without having hundreds of system calls

system call.

<braunr> the hurd keeps that and extends it by making many operations
<braunr> you don't need special code for kernel modules any more
<braunr> it's easy
<braunr> you don't need special code to handle suid bits and other ugly
  similar hacks,
<braunr> it's easy
<braunr> you don't need fuse
<braunr> easy
<braunr> etc..

Service Directory

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2012-12-06

<spiderweb> what is the #1 feature that distinguished hurd from other
  operating systems. the concept of translators. (will read more when I get
  more time).
<braunr> yes, translators
<braunr> using the VFS as a service directory
<braunr> and the VFS permissions to control access to those services

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-05-23

<gnu_srs> Hi, is there any efficient way to control which backed
  translators are called via RPC with a user space program?
<gnu_srs> Take for example io_stat: S_io_stat is defined in boot/boot.c,
  pfinet/io-ops.c and pflocal/io.c
<gnu_srs> And the we have libdiskfs/io-stat.c:diskfs_S_io_stat,
  libnetfs/io-stat.c:netfs_S_io_stat, libtreefs/s-io.c:treefs_S_io_stat,
<gnu_srs> How are they related?
<braunr> gnu_srs: it depends on the server (translator) managing the files
  (nodes) you're accessing
<braunr> so use fsysopts to know the server, and see what this server uses
<gnu_srs> fsysopts /hurd/pfinet and fsysopts /hurd/pflocal gives the same
  answer: ext2fs --writable --no-inherit-dir-group --store-type=typed
<braunr> of course
<braunr> the binaries are regular files
<braunr> see /servers/socket/1 and /servers/socket/2 instead
<braunr> which are the nodes representing the *service*
<braunr> again, the hurd uses the file system as a service directory
<braunr> this usage of the file system is at the core of the hurd design
<braunr> files are not mere files, they're service names
<braunr> it happens that, for most files, the service behind them is the
  same as for regular files
<braunr> gnu_srs: this *must* be obvious for you to do any tricky work on
  the hurd

<gnu_srs> Anyway, if I create a test program calling io_stat I assume
  S_io_stat in pflocal is called.
<gnu_srs> How to make the program call S_io_stat in pfinet instead? 
<braunr> create a socket managed by pfinet
<braunr> i.e. an inet or inet6 socket
<braunr> you can't assume io_stat is serviced by pflocal
<braunr> only stats on unix sockets of pipes will be
<braunr> or*
<gnu_srs> thanks, what about the *_S_io_stat functions?
<braunr> what about them ?
<gnu_srs> How they fit into the picture, e.g. diskfs_io_stat?
<gnu_srs> *diskfs_S_io_stat
<braunr> gnu_srs: if you open a file managed by a server using libdiskfs,
  e.g. ext2fs, that one will be called
<gnu_srs> Using the same user space call: io_stat, right?
<braunr> it's all userspace
<braunr> say rather, client-side
<braunr> the client calls the posix stat() function, which is implemented
  by glibc, which converts it into a call to io_stat, and sends it to the
  server managing the open file
<braunr> the io_stat can change depending on the server
<braunr> the remote io_stat implementation, i mean
<braunr> identify the server, and you will identify the actual

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-06-30

<hacklu> hi, what is the replacer of netname_check_in? 

<hacklu> I want to ask another question. in my opinion, the rpc is the
  mach's way, and the translator is the hurd's way. so somebody want to
  lookup a service, it should not need to ask the mach kernel know about
  this query. the hurd will take the control. 
<hacklu> am I right?
<braunr> no
<braunr> that's nonsense
<braunr> service lookups has never been in mach
<braunr> first mach based systems used a service directory, whereas the
  hurd uses the file system for that
<braunr> you still need mach to communicate with either of those
<hacklu> how to understand the term of service directory here?
<braunr> a server everyone knows
<braunr> which gives references to other servers
<braunr> usually, depending on the name
<braunr> e.g. name_lookup("net") -> port right to network server
<hacklu> is that people use netname_check_in to register service in the
  past? now used libtrivfs?
<braunr> i don't know about netname_check_in
<braunr> old mach (not gnumach) documentation might mention this service
<braunr> libtrivfs doesn't have much to do with that
<braunr> on the hurd, the equivalent is the file system
<hacklu> maybe that is outdate, I just found that exist old doc, and old
  code which can't be build.
<braunr> every process knows /
<braunr> the file system is the service directory
<braunr> nodes refer to services
<hacklu> so the file system is the nameserver, any new service should
  register in it before other can use
<braunr> and the file system is distributed, so looking up a service may
  require several queries
<braunr> setting a translator is exactly that, registering a program to
  service requests on a node
<braunr> the file system isn't one server though
<braunr> programs all know about /, but then, lookups are recursive
<braunr> e.g. if you have / and /home, and are looking for
  /home/hacklu/.profile, you ask / which tells you about /home, and /home
  will give you a right to /home/hacklu/.profile
<hacklu> even in the past, the mach don't provide name register service,
  there must be an other server to provide this service?
<braunr> yes
<braunr> what's nonsense in your sentence is comparing RPCs and translators
<braunr> translators are merely servers attached to the file system, using
  RPCs to communicate with the rest of the system
<hacklu> I know yet, the two just one thing.
<braunr> no
<braunr> two things :p
<braunr> completely different and unrelated except for one using the other
<hacklu> ah, just one used aonther one.
<hacklu> is exist anyway to anounce service except settrans with file node?
<braunr> more or less
<braunr> tasks can have special ports
<braunr> that's how one task knows about / for example
<braunr> at task creation, a right to / is inserted in the new task
<hacklu> I think this is also a file node way.
<braunr> no
<braunr> if i'm right, auth is referenced the same way
<braunr> and there is no node for auth
<hacklu> how the user get the port of auth with node?
<braunr> it's given when a task is created
<hacklu> pre-set in the creation of one task?
<braunr> i'm unconfortable with "pre-set"
<braunr> inserted at creation time
<braunr> auth is started very early
<braunr> then tasks are given a reference to it

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2012-12-10

<spiderweb> I want to work on hurd, but I think I'm going to start with
  minix, I own the minix book 3rd ed. it seems like a good intro to
  operating systems in general. like I don't even know what a semaphore is
<braunr> well, enjoy learning :)
<spiderweb> once I finish that book, what reading do you guys recommend?
<spiderweb> other than the wiki
<braunr> i wouldn't recommend starting with a book that focuses on one
  operating system anyway
<braunr> you tend to think in terms of what is done in that specific
  implementation and compare everything else to that
<braunr> tannenbaum is not only the main author or minix, but also the one
  of the book
  should be a pretty good list :)

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-03-12

<mjjc> i have a question regarding ipc in hurd. if a task is created, does
  it contain any default port rights in its space? i am trying to deduce
  how one calls dir_lookup() on the root translator in glibc's open().
<kilobug> mjjc: yes, there are some default port rights, but I don't
  remember the details :/
<mjjc> kilobug: do you know where i should search for details?
<kilobug> mjjc: hum either in the Hurd's hacking guide or directly in the
  source code of exec server/libc I would say, or just ask again the
  question here later on to see if someone else has more information
<mjjc> ok, thanks
<pinotree> there's also rpctrace to, as the name says, trace all the rpc's
<braunr> some ports are introduced in new tasks, yes
<braunr> see
<braunr> and
<mjjc> yes, the second link was just what i was looking for, thanks
<braunr> the second is very general
<braunr> also, the first applies to translators only
<braunr> if you're looking for how to do it for a non-translator
  application, the answer is probably somewhere in glibc
<braunr> _hurd_startup i'd guess

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-06-15

<damo22> ive been reading a little about exokernels or unikernels, and i
  was wondering if it might be relevant to the GNU/hurd design.  I'm not
  too familiar with hurd terminology so forgive me.  what if every
  privileged service was compiled as its own mini "kernel" that handled (a)
  any hardware related to that service (b) any device nodes exposed by that
  service etc...
<braunr> yes but not really that way
<damo22> under the current hurd model of the operating system, how would
  you talk to hardware that required specific timings like sound hardware?
<braunr> through mapped memory
<damo22> is there such a thing as an interrupt request in hurd?
<braunr> obviously
<damo22> ok
<damo22> is there any documentation i can read that involves a driver that
  uses irqs for hurd?
<braunr> you can read the netdde code
<braunr> dde being another project, there may be documentation about it
<braunr> somewhere else
<braunr> i don't know where
<damo22> thanks
<damo22> i read a little about dde, apparently it reuses existing code from
  linux or bsd by reimplementing parts of the old kernel like an api or
<braunr> yes
<damo22> it must translate these system calls into ipc or something
<damo22> then mach handles it?
<braunr> exactly

system call.

<braunr> that's why i say it's not the exokernel way of doing things
<damo22> ok
<damo22> so does every low level hardware access go through mach?'
<braunr> yes
<braunr> well no
<braunr> interrupts do
<braunr> ports (on x86)
<braunr> everything else should be doable through mapped memory
<damo22> seems surprising that the code for it is so small
<braunr> 1/ why surprising ? and 2/ "so small" ?
<damo22> its like the core of the OS, and yet its tiny compared to say the
  linux kernel
<braunr> it's a microkenrel
<braunr> well, rather an hybrid
<braunr> the size of the equivalent code in linux is about the same
<damo22> ok
<damo22> with the model that privileged instructions get moved to
  userspace, how does one draw the line between what is OS and what is user
<braunr> privileged instructions remain in the kernel
<braunr> that's one of the few responsibilities of the kernel
<damo22> i see, so it is an illusion that the user has privilege in a sense
<braunr> hum no
<braunr> or, define "illusion"
<damo22> well the user can suddenly do things never imaginable in linux
<damo22> that would have required sudo
<braunr> yes
<braunr> well, they're not unimaginable on linux
<braunr> it's just not how it's meant to work
<damo22> :)
<braunr> and why things like fuse are so slow
<braunr> i still don't get "i see, so it is an illusion that the user has
  privilege in a sense"
<damo22> because the user doesnt actually have the elevated privilege its
  the server thing (translator)?
<braunr> it does
<braunr> not at the hardware level, but at the system level
<braunr> not being able to do it directly doesn't mean you can't do it
<damo22> right
<braunr> it means you need indirections
<braunr> that's what the kernel provides
<damo22> so the user cant do stuff like outb 0x13, 0x1
<braunr> he can
<braunr> he also can on linux
<damo22> oh
<braunr> that's an x86 specifity though
<damo22> but the user would need hardware privilege to do that
<braunr> no
<damo22> or some kind of privilege
<braunr> there is a permission bitmap in the TSS that allows userspace to
  directly access some ports
<braunr> but that's really x86 specific, again
<damo22> i was using it as an example
<damo22> i mean you wouldnt want userspace to directly access everything
<braunr> yes
<braunr> the only problem with that is dma reall
<braunr> y
<braunr> because dma usually access physical memory directly
<damo22> are you saying its good to let userspace access everything minus
<braunr> otherwise you can just centralize permissions in one place (the
  kernel or an I/O server for example)
<braunr> no
<braunr> you don't let userspace access everything
<damo22> ah
<damo22> yes
<braunr> userspace asks for permission to access one specific part (a
  memory range through mapping)
<braunr> and can't access the rest (except through dma)
<damo22> except through dma??  doesnt that pose a large security threat?
<braunr> no
<braunr> you don't give away dma access to anyone
<braunr> only drivers
<damo22> ahh
<braunr> and drivers are normally privileged applications anyway
<damo22> so a driver runs in userspace?
<braunr> so the only effect is that bugs can affect other address spaces
<braunr> netdde does
<damo22> interesting
<braunr> and they all should but that's not the case for historical reasons
<damo22> i want to port ALSA to hurd userspace :D
<braunr> that's not so simple unfortunately
<braunr> one of the reasons it's hard is that pci access needs arbitration
<braunr> and we don't have that yet
<damo22> i imagine that would be difficult
<braunr> yes
<braunr> also we're not sure we want alsa
<braunr> alsa drivers, maybe, but probably not the interface itself
<damo22> its tangled spaghetti
<damo22> but the guy who wrote JACK for audio hates OSS, and believes it is
  rubbish due to the fact it tries to read and write to a pcm device node
  like a filesystem with no care for timing
<braunr> i don't know audio well enough to tell you anything about that
<braunr> was that about oss3 or oss4 ?
<braunr> also, the hurd isn't a real time system
<braunr> so we don't really care about timings
<braunr> but with "good enough" latencies, it shouldn't be a problem
<damo22> but if the audio doesnt reach the sound card in time, you will get
  a crackle or a pop or a pause in the signal
<braunr> yep
<braunr> it happens on linux too when the system gets some load
<damo22> some users find this unnacceptable
<braunr> some users want real time systems
<braunr> using soft real time is usually plenty enough to "solve" this kind
  of problems
<damo22> will hurd ever be a real time system?
<braunr> no idea
<youpi> if somebody works on it why not
<youpi> it's the same as linux
<braunr> it should certainly be simpler than on linux though
<damo22> hmm
<braunr> microkernels are well suited for real time because of the well
  defined interfaces they provide and the small amount of code running in
<damo22> that sounds promising
<braunr> you usually need to add priority inheritance and take care of just
  a few corner cases and that's all
<braunr> but as youpi said, it still requires work
<braunr> and nobody's working on it
<braunr> you may want to check l4 fiasco.oc though

System Personality

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-07-29

<teythoon> over the past few days I gained a new understanding of the Hurd
<braunr> teythoon: really ? :)
<tschwinge> teythoon: That it's a complex and distributed system?  ;-)
<tschwinge> And at the same time a really simple one?
<tschwinge> ;-D
<teythoon> it's just a bunch of mach programs and some do communicate and
  behave in a way a posix system would, but that is more a convention than
  anything else
<teythoon> tschwinge: yes, kind of simple and complex :)
<braunr> the right terminology is "system personality"
<braunr> 11:03 < teythoon> over the past few days I gained a new
  understanding of the Hurd
<braunr> teythoon: still no answer on that :)
<teythoon> braunr: ah, I spent lot's of time with the core servers and
  early bootstrapping and now I gained the feeling that I've seen the Hurd
  for what it really is for the first time

RPC Interfaces

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-09-03

<rekado> I'm a little confused by the hurd and incubator git repos.
<rekado> DDE is only found in the dde branch in incubator, but not in the
  hurd repo.
<rekado> Does this mean that DDE is not ready for master yet?
<braunr> yes
<rekado> If DDE is not yet used in the hurd (except in the dde branch in
  the incubator repo), does pfinet use some custom glue code to use the
  Linux drivers?
<braunr> this has nothing to do with pfinet
<braunr> pfinet is the networking stack, netdde are the networking drivers
<braunr> the interface between them doesn't change, whether drivers are in
  kernel or not
<rekado> I see

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-09-20

<giuscri> HI there, I have no previous knowledge about OS's. I'm trying to
  undestand the structure of the Hurd and the comparison between, say,
  Linux way of managing stuff ...
<giuscri> for instance, I read: "Unlike other popular kernel software, the
  Hurd has an object-oriented structure that allows it to evolve without
  compromising its design."
<giuscri> that means that while for adding feature to the Linux-kernel you
  have to add some stuff `inside` a procedure, whilst in the Hurd kernel
  you can just, in principle at least, add an object and making the kernel
  using it?...
<giuscri> Am I making stuff too simple?
<giuscri> Thanks
<braunr> not exactly
<braunr> unix historically has a "file-oriented" structure
<braunr> the hurd allows servers to implement whatever type they want,
  through the ability to create custom interfaces
<braunr> custom interfaces means custom calls, custom semantics, custom
  methods on objects
<braunr> you're not restricted to the set of file interfaces (open, seek,
  read, write, select, close, etc..) that unix normally provides
<giuscri> braunr: uhm ...some example?
<braunr> see processes for example
<braunr> see
<braunr> this is the collection of interfaces the hurd provides
<braunr> most of them map to unix calls, because gnu aims at posix
  compatibility too
<braunr> some are internal, like processes
<braunr> or authentication
<braunr> but most importantly, you're not restricted to that, you can add
  your own interfaces
<braunr> on a unix, you'd need new system calls
<braunr> or worse, extending through the catch-all ioctl call
<giuscri> braunr: mhn ...sorry, not getting that.
<braunr> what part ?
<kilobug> ioctl has become such a mess :s
<giuscri> braunr: when you say that Unix is `file-oriented` you're
  referring to the fact that sending/receiving data to/from the kernel is
  designed like sending/receiving data to/from a file ...?
<braunr> not merely sending/receiving
<braunr> note how formatted your way of thinking is
<braunr> you directly think in terms of sending/receiving (i.e. read and
<giuscri> braunr: (yes)
<braunr> that's why unix is file oriented, access to objects is done that
<braunr> on the hurd, the file interface is one interface
<braunr> there is nothing preventing you from implementing services with a
  different interface
<braunr> as a real world example, people interested in low latency
  profesionnal audio usually dislike send/recv
<braunr> see for
<kilobug> braunr: how big and messy ioctl has become is a good proof that
  the Unix way, while powerful, does have its limits
<braunr> giuscri: keep in mind the main goal of the hurd is extensibility
  without special privileges
<giuscri> braunr: privileges?
<braunr> root
<giuscri> braunr: what's wrong with privileges?
<braunr> they allow malicious/buggy stuff to happne
<braunr> and have dramatic effects
<giuscri> braunr: you're obviously *not* referring to the fact that once
  one have the root privileges could change some critical-data
<giuscri> ?
<braunr> i'm referring to why privilege separation exists in the first
<braunr> if you have unprivileged users, that's because you don't want them
  to mess things up
<braunr> on unix, extending the system requires privileges, giving those
  who do it the ability to destroy everything
<giuscri> braunr: yes, I think the same
<braunr> the hurd is designed to allow unprivileged users to extend their
  part of the system, and to some extent share that with other users
<braunr> although work still remains to completely achieve that
<giuscri> braunr: mhn ...that's the `server`-layer between the
  single-application and kernel ?
<braunr> the multi-server based approach not only allows that, but
  mitigates damage even when privileged servers misbehave
<braunr> one aspect of it yes
<braunr> but as i was just saying, even root servers can't mess things too
<braunr> for example, our old (sometimes buggy) networking stack can be
  restarted when it behaves wrong
<braunr> the only side effect being some applications (ssh and exim come to
  mind) which need to be restarted too because they don't expect the
  network stack to be restarted
<giuscri> braunr: ...instead?
<braunr> ?
<kilobug> giuscri: on Linux, if the network stack crash/freezes, you don't
  have any other option than rebooting the system - usually with a nice
  "kernel pani"
<kilobug> giuscri: and you may even get filesystem corruption "for free" in
  the bundle
<braunr> and hoping it didn't corrupt something important like file system
  caches before being flushed
<giuscri> kilobug, braunr : mhn, ook

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-10-13

<ahungry> ahh, ^c isn't working to cancel a ping - is there alternative?
<braunr> ahungry: ctrl-c does work, you just missed something somewhere and
  are running a shell directly on a console, without a terminal to handle

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-11-04

<braunr> nalaginrut: you can't use the hurd for real embedded stuff without
  a lot of work on it
<braunr> but the hurd design applies very well to embedded environments
<braunr> the fact that we're able to dynamically link practically all hurd
  servers against the c library can visibly reduce the system code size 
<braunr> it also reduces the TCB
<nalaginrut> what about the memory occupation? 
<braunr> code size is about memory occupation
<teythoon> also, the system is composable like lego, don't need tcp - don't
  include pfinet then
<braunr> the memory overheald of a capability based system like the hurd
  are, well, capabilities
<braunr> teythoon: that's not an argument compared to modular kernels like
<teythoon> yes it is
<braunr> why ?
<braunr> if you don't need tcp in linux, you just don't load it
<braunr> same thing
<teythoon> ok, right
<braunr> on the other hand, a traditional unix kernel can never be linked
  against the c library
<braunr> much less dynamically
<teythoon> right
<nalaginrut> I think the point is that it's easy to cut, since it has
  better modularity than monolithic, and could be done in userland relative
<braunr> modularity isn't better
<braunr> that's a big misconception
<teythoon> also, restarting components is easier on a distributed system
<braunr> on the hurd, this is a side effect
<braunr> and it doesn't apply well
<nalaginrut> braunr:  oops, misconception
<braunr> many core servers such as proc, auth, exec, the root fs server
  can't be restarted at all
<teythoon> not yet
<braunr> and servers like pfinet can be restarted, but at the cost of posix
  servers not expecting that
<braunr> looping on errors such as EBADF because the target socket doesn't
  exist any more
<teythoon> I've been working on a restartable exec server during some of my
  gsoc weekends
<braunr> ah right
<braunr> linux has kexec
<braunr> and can be patched at run time
<nalaginrut> sounds like Hurd needs something similar to generalizable
<braunr> so again, it's not a real advantage
<braunr> no
<nalaginrut> sorry serilizable
<braunr> that would persistence
<braunr> personally, i don't want it at all
<teythoon> yes it is a real advantage, b/c the means of communication
  (ports) is common to every IPC method on Hurd, and ports are first class
<teythoon> so preserving the state is much easier on Hurd
<braunr> if a monolithic kernel can do it too, it's not a real advantage
<teythoon> yes, but it is more work
<braunr> that is one true advantage of the hurd
<braunr> but don't reuse it each time
<nalaginrut> oh, that's nice for the ports
<teythoon> why not?
<braunr> what we're talking about here is resilience
<braunr> the fact that it's easier to implement doesn't mean the hurd is
  better because it has resilience
<braunr> it simply means the hurd is better because it's easier to
  implement things on it
<braunr> same for development in general
<braunr> debugging
<braunr> virtualization
<braunr> etc..
<nalaginrut> yes, but why we stick to compare it to monolithic
<braunr> but it's still *one* property
<teythoon> well, minix advertises this feature a lot, even if minix can
  only restart very simple things like printer servers
<braunr> minix sucks
<braunr> let them advertise what they can
<teythoon> ^^
<nalaginrut> it has cool features, that's enough, no need to find a feature
  that monolithic can never done
<braunr> no it's not enough
<braunr> minix isn't a general purpose system
<braunr> let's just not compare it to general purpose systems

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-11-08

<teythoon> and, provided you have suitable language bindings, you can
  replace almost any hurd server with your own implementation in any
<crocket> teythoon: language bindings?
<crocket> Do you mean language bindings against C libraries?
<teythoon> either that or for the low level mach primitives
<crocket> For your information, IPC is independent of languages.
<teythoon> sure, that's the beauty
<crocket> Why is hurd best for replacing parts written in C with other
<teythoon> because Hurd consists of many servers, each server managing one
  kind of resource
<teythoon> so you have /hurd/proc managing posix processes
<teythoon> you could reimplement /hurd/proc in say python or go, and
  replace just that component of the Hurd system
<teythoon> you cannot do this with any other (general purpose) operating
  system that I know of
<teythoon> you could incrementally replace the Hurd with your own
  Hurd-compatible set of servers written in X
<teythoon> use a language that you can verify, i.e. prove that a certain
  specification is fulfilled, and you end up with an awesome stable and
  secure operating system
<crocket> Any microkernel OS fits the description.
<crocket> teythoon, Does hurd have formal protocols for IPC communications?
<teythoon> sure, name some other general purpose and somewhat
  posix-compatible microkernel based operating system please
<teythoon> what do you mean by formal protocols ?
<crocket> IPC communications need to be defined in documents.
<teythoon> the "wire" format is specified of course, the semantic not so
<crocket> network protocols exist.
<crocket> HTTP is a transport protocol.
<crocket> Without formal protocols, IPC communications suffer from
  debugging difficulties.
<crocket> Formal protocols make it possible to develop and test each module
<teythoon> as I said, the wire format is specified, the semantics only in
  written form in the source
<teythoon> this is an example of the ipc specification for the proc server
<crocket> teythoon, how file server interacts with file clients should be
  defined as a formal protocol, too.
<teythoon> do you consider the ipc description a kind of formal protocol ?
<crocket> can
  be considered as a formal protocol.
<crocket> However, the file server protocol should be defined on top of IPC
<teythoon> the file server protocol is in fs.defs
<teythoon> every protocol spoken is defined in that ipc description
<teythoon> it is used to derive code from
<braunr> crocket: not any system can be used to implement system services
  in any language
<braunr> in theory, they do, but in theory only
<braunr> the main reason they don't is because most aren't posix compliant
  from the ground up
<braunr> posix compliance is achieved through virtualization
<braunr> which isolates services too much for them to get useful,
  notwithstanding the impacts on performance, memory, etc..
<crocket> braunr, Do you mean it's difficult to achieve POSIX compliance
  with haskell?
<braunr> crocket: i mean most l4 based systems aren't posix
<braunr> genode isn't posix
<braunr> helenos is by design not posix
<braunr> the hurd is the only multi server system providing such a good
  level of posix conformance
<braunr> and with tls on the way, we'll support even more non-posix
  applications that are nonetheless very common on unices because of
  historical interfaces still present, such as mcontext
<braunr> and modern ones
<braunr> e.g. ruby is now working, go should be there after tls
* teythoon drools over the perspective of having go on the Hurd...
<crocket> braunr, Is posix relevant now?
<braunr> it's hugely relevant
<braunr> conforming to posix and some native unix interfaces is the only
  way to reuse a lot of existing production applications
<braunr> and for the matter at hand (system services not written in c), it
  means almost readily getting runtimes for other languages than c
<braunr> something other microkernel based system will not have
<braunr> imagine this
<braunr> one day, one of us could create a company for a hurd-like system,
  presenting this idea as the killer feature
<braunr> by supporting posix, customers could port their software with very
  little effort
<braunr> *very little effort* is what makes software attractive
  says "The disadvantage to a microkernel is that asynchronous IPC
  messaging can become very difficult to debug, especially if fibrils are
<crocket> " GNU Hurd suffers from these debugging problems (reference)."
<braunr> stackoverflow is usually a nice place
<braunr> but concerning microkernel stuff, you'll read a lot of crap
<braunr> whether it's sync or async, tracking references is a hard task
<braunr> it's a bit more difficult in distributed systems, but not that
  much if the proper debugging features are provided
<braunr> we actually don't suffer from that too much
<braunr> many of us have been able to debug reference leaks in the past,
  without too much trouble
<braunr> we lack some tools that would give us a better view of the system
<crocket> braunr, But is it more difficult with microkernel?
<braunr> crocket: it's more difficult with distributed systems
<crocket> How much more difficult?
<braunr> i don't know
<crocket> distributed systems
<braunr> not much
<crocket> braunr, How do you define distributed systems?
<braunr> crocket: not monolithic
<crocket> braunr, Hurd is distributed, then.
<braunr> multiserver if you prefer
<braunr> yes it is
<crocket> braunr, So it is more difficult with hurd.
<crocket> How much more difficult? How do you debug?
<braunr> just keep in mind that a monolithic system can run on a
<braunr> we use tools that show us references
<crocket> braunr, like?
<braunr> like portinfo
<crocket> braunr, Does hurd use unix-socket to implement IPC?
<braunr> no
<braunr> unix-socket use mach ipc
<crocket> I'm confused
<braunr> ipc is provided by the microkernel, gnumach (a variant of mach)
<braunr> unix sockets are provided by one of the hurd servers (pflocal)
<braunr> servers and clients communicate through mach ipc
<crocket> braunr, Do you think it's feasible to build servers in haskell?
<braunr> why not ?
<crocket> ok
<teythoon> I've been thinking about that
<teythoon> in go, with cgo, you can call go functions from c code
<teythoon> so it should be possible to create bindings for say libtrivfs
<crocket> I'd like to write an OS in clojure or haskell.
<braunr> crocket: what for ?
<crocket> braunr, I want to see a better system programming language than
<braunr> i don't see how clojure or haskell would be "better system
  programming languages" than c
<braunr> and even assuming that, what for ?
<crocket> braunr, It's better for programmers.
<crocket> haskell
<crocket> haskell is expressive.
<braunr> personally i disagree
<braunr> it's better for some things
<braunr> not for system programming
<gnufreex> For system programming, Google Go is trying to replace C.  But I
  doubt it will.
<braunr> we may not be referring to the same thing here when we say "system
<crocket> braunr, What do you think is a better one?
<braunr> crocket: i don't think there is a better one currently
<crocket> braunr, Even Rust and D?
<braunr> i don't know them well enough
<braunr> certainly not D if it's what i think it is
<crocket> C is too slow.
<crocket> C is too slow to develop.
<braunr> depends
<braunr> again, i disagree
<braunr> rust looks good but i don't know it well to comment
<crocket> C is a tank, and clojure is an airplane.
<crocket> A tank is reliable but slow.
<crocket> Clojure is fast but lacks some accuracy.
<braunr> c is as reliable as the developer is skilled with it
<braunr> it's clearly not a tank
<braunr> there are many traps
<gnufreex> crocket: are you suggesting to rewrite Hurd in Clojure?
<crocket> no
<crocket> Why rewrite hud?
<crocket> hurd
<crocket> I'd rather start from scratch.
<braunr> which is what a rewrite is
<gnufreex> I am not expert on Clojure, but I don't think it is made for
  system programming.
<gnufreex> If you want alternate language, I thing Go is only  serious
  candidate other than C
<crocket> Or Rust
<crocket> However, some people wrote OSes in haskell.
<braunr> again, why ?
<braunr> if it's only for the sake of using another language, i think it's
  bad reason
<crocket> Because haskell provides a high level of abstraction that helps
<crocket> It is more secure with monads.
<gnufreex> If you want your OS to become successful Free Software project,
  you have to use popular language. Haskell is not. 
<gnufreex> Most Haskell programmers are not into kernels
<gnufreex> They do high level stuff.
<gnufreex> So little contributors.
<braunr> crocket: so you aim at security ?
<gnufreex> I mean, candidats for contribution
<crocket> braunr, security and higher abstraction.
<braunr> i don't understand higher abstraction
<crocket> braunr, FP can be useful to systems.
<braunr> FP ?
<neal> functional programming
<braunr> right
<braunr> but you can abstract a lot with c too, with more efforts
<crocket> braunr, like that's easy.
<braunr> it's not that hard
<braunr> i'm just questioning the goals and the solution of using a
  particular language
<braunr> the reason c is still the preferred language for system
  programming is because it provides control over how the hardware does
<braunr> which is very important for performance
<braunr> the hurd never took off because of bad performance
<braunr> performance doesn't mean doing things faster, it means being able
  to do things or not, or doing things a new way
<braunr> so ok, great, you have your amazing file system written in
  haskell, and you find out it doesn't scale at all beyond some threshold
  of processors or memory
<crocket> braunr, L4 is fast.
<braunr> l4 is merely an architecture abstraction
<braunr> and it's not written in haskell :p
<braunr> don't assume anything running on top of something fast will be
<crocket> Hurd is slow and written in C.
<braunr> yes
<braunr> not because of c though
<crocket> Becuase it's microkernel?
<braunr> because c wasn't used well enough to make the most of the hardware
  in many places
<braunr> far too many places
<crocket> A microkernel can be as fast as a monolithic kernel according to
<braunr> no
<braunr> it can't
<braunr> it can for very specific cases
<braunr> almost none of which are real world
<braunr> but that's not the problem
<braunr> again, i'm questioning your choice of another language in relation
  to your goals, that's all
<braunr> c can do things you really can't do easily in other languages
<braunr> be aware of that
<crocket> braunr, "Monolithic kernel are faster than microkernel . while
  The first microkernel Mach is 50% slower than Monolithic kernel while
  later version like L4 only 2% or 4% slower than the Monolithic kernel ."
<braunr> 14:05 < braunr> but concerning microkernel stuff, you'll read a
  lot of crap anywhere
<braunr> simple counterexample :
<braunr> the measurements you're giving consider a bare l4 kernel with
  nothing on top of it
<braunr> doing thread-to-thread ipc
<braunr> this model of communication is hardly used in any real world
<braunr> one of the huge features people look for with microkernels are
<braunr> and that alone will bump your 4% up
<braunr> since capabilities will be used for practically every ipc
<crocket> ok

Hurd From Scratch

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-11-30

<hurdmaster> because I think there is no way to understand the whole pile,
  you need to go step by step
<hurdmaster> for example, I'm starting with mach only, then adding one
  server, then another and on each step I have working system
<hurdmaster> that's how I want to understand it
<teythoon> you are interested in the early bootstrapping of the hurd system
<hurdmaster> now I'm starting debian gnu/mach, it hungs, show me black
  screen and I have no idea how to fix it
<teythoon> if you are unable to fix this, why do you think you can build a
  hurd system from scratch ?
<hurdmaster> not gnu/mach, gnu/hurd I mean
<teythoon> or, you could describe your problem in more detail and one of
  the nice people around here might help you ;)
<hurdmaster> as I said, it will be easier to understand and fix bugs, if I
  will go step by step, and I will be able to see where bugs appears
<hurdmaster> so you should help me with that 
<teythoon> and I tend to disagree
<teythoon> but you could always read my blog. you'll learn lots of things
  about bootstrapping a hurd system
<teythoon> but it's complicated
<teythoon> also, you'll need at least four hurd servers before you'll
  actually see much
<teythoon> five
<teythoon> yeah, i know lfs
<hurdmaster> if somebody is interested in creating such a project, let me
<teythoon> you seem to be interested
<hurdmaster> yes, but I need the a real hurd master to help me
<teythoon> become one. fix your system and get to know it
<hurdmaster> I need knowledge, somebody built the system but didn't write
  documentation about it, I have to extract it from your heads
<teythoon> hurdmaster: extract something from here
<teythoon> I need my head ;)
<hurdmaster> thanks
<hurdmaster> okay, what's the smallest thing I can run?
<teythoon> life of a Hurd system starts with the root filesystem, and the
  exec server is loaded but not started
<teythoon> you could get rid of the exec server and replace the root
  filesystem with your own program
<teythoon> statically linked, uses no unix stuff, only mach stuff
<hurdmaster> can I get 'hello world' on pure mach?
<teythoon> you could
<teythoon> hurdmaster: actually, here it is:
<teythoon> compile it statically, put it somewhere in /boot
<teythoon> make sure you're running a debug kernel
<teythoon> load it from grub instead of /hurd/ext2fs.static
<teythoon> look at the grub config for how this is done
<teythoon> let me know if it worked ;)

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2014-03-04

<bwright> Can I run a single instance of hurd on multiple computers
<bwright> With them acting as different servers?
<braunr> no
<bwright> Like the fs server on one pc etc.
<bwright> Which os could I do this with?
<bwright> I assumed Mach RPC would support that.
<braunr> it can
<braunr> but we don't use it that way
<braunr> plan9 is probably better suited to what you want
<braunr> inferno too
<braunr> maybe dragonflybsd
<bwright> Yep.
<bwright> irAwesome.
<bwright> Plan9 is exactly it.
<braunr> enjoy

IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2014-03-11

<ltx> Does anyone have a distributed OS over GNU/hurd project running?
<ltx> (GNU/hurd has many of the utilities to make this easy, but it still
  requires some more utilities for transparent computation)
<braunr> not at the moment, no
<braunr> and i consider our ipc inappropriate if you want system able to
  run over heterogeneous hardware
<braunr> or rather, our RPCs
<ltx> I haven't spent the time, this is speculative (in the worse "let's do
  everything magically!" way.)
<ltx> Just wondering if this exists outside of plan9 (which is limited in
  some ways.)
<braunr> dragonflybsd had plans for a SSI
<braunr> there are ancient research systems that actually did the job
<braunr> such as amoeba
<braunr> here at the hurd, we just don't have the manpower, and the people
  spending time on the project have other interests
<ltx> Yeah, that seems like a large problem.
<ltx> GNU/hurd is self hosting (in the "I like working on it" way), yes?
<ltx> I've done some work on it, but don't really know how nice it is.
<braunr> yes it is
<ltx> Working from a microkernel to add pseudo-SSI features to a bunch of
  servers seems like a much more trivial task than, say, modifying TLK.
<braunr> posix conformance and stability are good enough that more than 70%
  of debian packages build and most of them work fine
<braunr> tlk the linux kernel ?
<ltx> Yes.
<braunr> first time i see this acronym :)
<braunr> and yes i agree, a microkernel is much much more suited for that
<braunr> but then, i consider a microkernel better suited for practically
  everything ... :)
<ltx> :)
<ltx> I'm wondering how to mix SSI with network-awareness.
<braunr> mach used to have a network server
<braunr> which would merely act as a proxy for capabilities
<braunr> network drivers were in kernel though
<ltx> That's the simple way of sharing the sources.
<ltx> I'm wondering how we can make a software stack that's network aware;
  completely transparent SSI can lead to inefficiencies in userspace, as it
  may do things the kernels won't expect. Having to deal with the network
  through a network server is a headache.
<braunr> what kind of problems do you have in mind ?
<ltx> Still working on defining the problem. I think that's half the
<ltx> (For any problem.)
<ltx> Beyond that, it's just some coding ;)
<braunr> ok
<braunr> sounds interesting :)
<braunr> i'd love to see a modern SSI in action
<braunr> but that's really a secondary goal for me so glad to see someone
  making this his primary goal
<braunr> doctoral thesis ?
<ltx> ... Undergrad who's been hacking away since grade school.
<braunr> heh :)
<ltx> 18 y/o sophomore at a respected technical college, dealing with
  boredom :)
<braunr> well throroughly thinking about "defining the problem" is an
  excellent reflex
<teythoon> :) stick around, the hurd is fun
<braunr> it does help fight boredom a lot indeed ...... )
<braunr> :)
<cluck> maybe it'd be possible to port the relevant features from plan9 now
  that there is a gpl'ed version
<teythoon> either way, we'd need network-transparent mach messaging
<teythoon> which mach messaging could do, but gnumach does not implement
  this currently
<cluck> teythoon: afaiui if there was a proper 9fs2000 hurd server the rest
  could be hidden behind the curtains 
<teythoon> ah, well, that sounds like a 9p network filesystem translator
<cluck> teythoon: also iirc plan9 uses libmach for some things so i suppose
  a port wouldn't be completely impossible
<teythoon> given that in plan9 everything is a file, that might be enough
  to use plan9 services
<cluck> teythoon: yes, it'd be the easiest route (at least initially) i
<teythoon> careful, lots of stuff is named mach-something
<cluck> bloody ernest mach and his damned famous-ness-ish
<cluck> =)
<teythoon> :D