FMI/OS: A Comparative Study
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With the boom of electronics and electronic devices, operating systems (OS’s) designed to interface these devices to software have seen a constantly growing demand. Operating systems for small devices are considered "embedded" and although the end user/consumer never makes direct access to the OS itself (typically only interacting with a graphical interface) the operating system remains at the core of the system design. The most popular design of OS for these devices is called a microkernel design. These OS’s are typically very small and modular and only implement the functionality needed strictly for the device. Two of the more popular commercial microkernels are QNX and Plan9. These are very small, yet powerful, microkernels that operate flawlessly on many networked, and non-networked, processors and machines. A small development group called OCGNet, of which I am a part, is working on a new microkernel operating system comparable to QNX and Plan9. This project is called the Flexible Microkernel Infrastructure Operating System, or FMI/OS. Why compete with UNIX? Why compete with systems that already have an established success and placement in the market? Why put time and energy into this project at all? How does this OS hold up to others that are similar? These are all extremely important questions that all have interesting answers. Much of the thesis will be a comparison of FMI/OS to other OS architectures in order to answer some of these questions. A look will be taken at the inner-workings of other, more classic OS's, to allow for a better understanding of how operating systems work. This will, in turn, provide a ground work for the comparisons to FMI/OS and an understanding of its proposed improvements. This thesis will provide a basic understanding on how operating systems work, how FMI/OS works, and how it tackles, and solves, the many problems found in past monolithic and layered kernels.