Unraveling the Mac OS X Microkernel Myth

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Date: Friday, May 19th, 2006, 09:00
Category: Opinion

mk.jpgAccording to proponents of this myth, Mac OS X is in grave danger because it has a microkernel and Linux doesn’t. They’re wrong; here’s why.
The Myth Weavers
This myth is of the wishful thinking type, making it more of an irritating distraction from reality than devious misinformation, but it’s also used in fanboyism that borders on FUD.
Some Linux advocates insist that nothing compares to the pure genius of Linux, so everything should just adopt Linux. Some Mac OS X users worry that there’s something evil lurking in their system that makes that dreaded beach ball spin; perhaps it’s a microkernel, and perhaps replacing it with Linux (which doesn’t even have a beach ball!) is the answer?
What is a Kernel?
The Unix Kernel is the master control program which governs all other programs, schedules access to hardware, and manages the file system and security model. The name kernel differentiates the core system (which runs as the root process with special privileges) from everything else on the system (which runs under restricted user accounts). Everything outside of the kernel space is called the userland.
In the natural development of Unix, the kernel began to grow rapidly. For example, Berkeley’s famous contribution to Unix was a fully functional TCP/IP networking stack. A rapid influx of other new functionality in the core kernel space has resulted in modern versions of Unix (and Linux, which is essentially a clean room rewrite of Unix) having 2-3 million lines of code in their kernel alone.
Read more at RoughlyDrafted.
Contributed by: Daniel Eran


mk.jpgAccording to proponents of this myth, Mac OS X is in grave danger because it has a microkernel and Linux doesn’t. They’re wrong; here’s why.
The Myth Weavers
This myth is of the wishful thinking type, making it more of an irritating distraction from reality than devious misinformation, but it’s also used in fanboyism that borders on FUD.
Some Linux advocates insist that nothing compares to the pure genius of Linux, so everything should just adopt Linux. Some Mac OS X users worry that there’s something evil lurking in their system that makes that dreaded beach ball spin; perhaps it’s a microkernel, and perhaps replacing it with Linux (which doesn’t even have a beach ball!) is the answer?
What is a Kernel?
The Unix Kernel is the master control program which governs all other programs, schedules access to hardware, and manages the file system and security model. The name kernel differentiates the core system (which runs as the root process with special privileges) from everything else on the system (which runs under restricted user accounts). Everything outside of the kernel space is called the userland.
In the natural development of Unix, the kernel began to grow rapidly. For example, Berkeley’s famous contribution to Unix was a fully functional TCP/IP networking stack. A rapid influx of other new functionality in the core kernel space has resulted in modern versions of Unix (and Linux, which is essentially a clean room rewrite of Unix) having 2-3 million lines of code in their kernel alone.
Read more at RoughlyDrafted.
Contributed by: Daniel Eran

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