[lug] minix vs. linux

John Hernandez John.Hernandez at noaa.gov
Mon Apr 17 07:57:36 MDT 2006

Hugh Brown wrote:
> The recent edition had an interesting article on Minix and about how
> wonderful micro-kernels are.  They made some compelling arguments about
> reliability, security, ease of kernel development, etc.  
> They left off the down side, if any.
> In which situations are micro-kernels a bad idea?

The arguments I've heard against the micro-kernel architecture center
around mostly practical matters, rather than theory.  Things such as
process handling can get very complicated when designing a
multi-purpose, multi-user system, requiring extensive message passing
which may result in a lot of (potentially buggy) code and a larger
memory footprint.  The extra messaging overhead has the potential to
slow things down.  In theory, however, it's hard to argue against the
elegance of the micro-kernel concept.

Until Apple OS-X came along, micro-kernels seemed to be used only for
things such as real-time applications and embedded systems, and they
certainly weren't as popular as monolithic designs in the arena of
general purpose computing.

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