Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jari OS: fork() in microkernel based OS

Well, this day makes huge parts of my brains works.
Designing microkernel systems you have a good skills base, designing microkernel and multiservice system you have an excellent skills base.
Today was a day of fork() call - it has many things to discuss, think, imaginate and so on.
At the end of a day, after all problems was detected - I found a solution to solve fork() call.
Let's begin and I will explain fork() nature as is...
Fork is a POSIX call that creates a clone of a calling process - with one thread, but the clone should have the same resources - i.e. memory (not at all), opened file descriptors, IPC stuff.
In Jari OS resources are isolated - VFS know about files, kernel knowns about IPC and so on - you will have a headache about syncronization, performance - always while architecture design - welcome to microkernel-based OS.
In this case you need to develop non-trivial trick with things that monolithic kernels made easly, but ... microkernel-based OSes is clever and better at all.
Well, you have a task, you have a resources and you need to fork() POSIX call - the first solution is simple - just delegate this job to process server and deal is made, within server timeslice - and this is bad (but QNX does it in this way). Other solution is more sophiscated - and you need to make a stages for fork():
  • Request to delegate a fork() for myself
  • Make a fork() skel within my timeslice
  • Send a request about fork() call made by me
In this big deal you will affect microkernel, process service, virtual file system service and your task.
Going deeper I will explain each stage of fork() and after those I will explain how it works on different sides.
Your first request is a request to the process service where you tell that you wants to make a fork(). Process service will create a mould on VFS of your resources, toggle bit in kernel that allow you to make a sys_fork() syscall, and if all is ok it will reply with ok message :)
After this you are going to make a syscall to fork - be warn! kernel toggle off bit that allows you to make this call, and you cannot do it yourself - only trusted process service does.
Call is done - you have a skel - you are making a second call to process service - i.e. - "fork is done - please make my child runnable" - process service tells VFS to make mould active and working - and changes status of the child - and replies you with "OK all is done".
This scheme allows task to make a one fork() call at a time (i.e. you are able to make other child after old child is created) - I don't think that this is a bad, other architecture going to make other applications design.
On this I want to explain some details.
"Forkable bit" can be toggled on only by trusted process, and it's switched off while fork called.
Task has a timestamp - and both kernel and process service known it at the start of all.
VFS's mould has a parent and while parent is exist - mould will not be deleted, orphaned mould will be deleted with timeout.
Checking for a valid child pid makes not only on parent pid - also on timestamp.

Uff, I can explain other details in comments.

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