Microkernels and You


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I've been reading a lot on the internals of the Mac operating system (OS X) and I've come across some fascinating articles I'd like to share:

The Wikipedia article on the Mach kernel is fascinating stuff, covering the development and history of what was once the most promising operating system kernel. Microkernels were going to change the world at one point, and although a modified version of Mach is used in OSX, the GNU Hurd, and NEXTSTEP, monolithic kernels seem to have some massive performance advantages. If there's a fundamental revolution in memory access, or some sort of improvement that allows much larger caches that in our current chips, this advantage might disappear, but that looks unlikely.

One of the major innovations of Mach, and one of the qualities that make Mac hackery such a pleasure, is the interprocess communication that allows applications to communicate with each other.

The Mach chapter from the Dinosaur book is also interesting, and is required reading for any operating system enthusiasts.

If you're still curious, the Wikipedia entry on microkernels is also good stuff.