Commodity operating systems still retain the design principles developed when processor cycles were scarce and RAM was precious. These out-dated principles have led to performance/functionality trade-offs that are no longer needed or required; I have found that, far from impeding performance, features such as safety, consistency and energy-efficiency can often be added while improving performance over existing systems. I will describe my work developing Speculator, which provides facilities within the operating system kernel to track and propagate causal dependencies.
Using Speculator, I will show that distributed and local file systems can provide strong consistency and safety guarantees without the poor performance these guarantees usually entail.
Ed Nightingale is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on experimental software systems, especially operating systems, distributed systems and mobile computing.