A glance at this year’s OSDI program shows that Operating Systems are a small niche topic for this conference, not even meriting their own full session. This is unfortunate because good OS design has always been driven by the underlying hardware, and right now that hardware is almost unrecognizable from ten years ago, let alone from the 1960s when Unix was written. This change is receiving considerable attention in the architecture and security communities, for example, but in contrast, so-called OS researchers are mostly in denial. Even the little publishable OS work that is not based on Linux still assumes the same simplistic hardware model (essentially a multiprocessor VAX) that bears little resemblance to modern reality. In this talk, I’ll speculate on how we came to this unfortunate state of affairs, and what might be done to fix it. In particular, I’ll argue for re-engaging with what computer hardware really is today and give two suggestions (among many) about how the OS research community can usefully do this, and exploit what is actually a tremendous opportunity.
As someone who is interested in embedded systems, computer architecture, and operating systems, I found this talk highly enjoyable.