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Flexible and Efficient Dynamic Software Updating for C

Date and Time
Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 11:30am to 12:30pm
Computer Science 402
Dynamic software updating (DSU) systems allow programs to be updated while running, thereby allowing developers to add features and fix bugs without downtime. No-downtime fixes are particular important for security-critical systems (e.g., IDS/IPS appliances), and for security patches (e.g., to server infrastructure). In this talk I will present Kitsune, a new DSU system for C whose design has three notable features. First, Kitsune's updating mechanism updates the whole program, not individual functions. This mechanism is more flexible than most prior approaches and places no restrictions on data representations or allowed compiler optimizations. Second, Kitsune makes the important aspects of updating explicit in the program text, making its semantics easy to understand while keeping programmer work to a minimum. Finally, the programmer can write simple specifications to direct Kitsune to generate code that traverses and transforms old-version state for use by the new code; such state transformation is often necessary, and is significantly more difficult in prior DSU systems. We have used Kitsune to update six popular, open-source, single- and multi-threaded programs, and find that few program changes are required to use Kitsune, and that it incurs essentially no performance overhead.
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