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Re: [MirageOS-devel] [RFC] Unicore Subproject Proposal

Hi Lars,

Great news, thanks! We sent v2 to the mailing list on the 18th, 2 days
ago. When you say “post v2 first”, should we be posting it somewhere else


— Felipe

Dr. Felipe Huici
Chief Researcher, Networked Systems and Data
Analytics Group
NEC Laboratories Europe, Network Research Division
Kurfuerstenanlage 36, D-69115 Heidelberg
Tel.     +49
(0)6221 4342-241
Fax:     +49
(0)6221 4342-155

NEC Europe Limited Registered Office: NEC House, 1
Victoria Road, London W3 6BL Registered in England 2832014

On 9/20/17, 2:20 AM, "Lars Kurth" <lars.kurth@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

>Felipe, Simon,
>a quick note to let you know that the Advisory Board in today’s AB
>meeting decided to endorse your proposal.
>Let me know how you proceed: from my perspective, we can kick off a
>formal vote before you make modifications to the proposal, but I think it
>is better to post v2 first.
>On 07/09/2017, 05:26, "Felipe Huici" <Felipe.Huici@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>    Dear all,
>    Following up on discussions that Simon Kuenzer had with several of
>you at
>    the last Xen summit, we’re now submitting a Xen subproject proposal
>    on our Unicore work. Could you please review it?
>    Thanks,
>    Felipe Huici & Simon Kuenzer - NEC Labs Heidelberg.
>    PROPOSAL: Unicore
>    =================
>    Roles
>    -----
>    Project Leads: Simon Kuenzer <simon.kuenzer@xxxxxxxxx> (main lead)
>                   Felipe Huici  <felipe.huici@xxxxxxxxx>    (co-lead)
>                   Florian Schmidt <florian.schmidt@xxxxxxxxx> (co-lead)
>    Project Mentor:  Lars Kurth <lars.kurth@xxxxxxxxxx>
>    Project Sponsor: -To be found-
>    Background
>    ----------
>    In recent years, several papers and projects dedicated to unikernels
>    shown the immense potential for performance gains that these have. By
>    leveraging specialization and the use of minimalistic OSes,
>unikernels are
>    able to yield impressive numbers, including fast instantiation times
>    of milliseconds or less), tiny memory footprints (a few MBs or even
>    high network throughput (10-40 Gb/s), and high consolidation (e.g.,
>    able to run thousands of instances on a single commodity server), not
>    mention a reduced attack surface and the potential for easier
>    certification. Unikernel projects worthy of mention include MirageOS,
>    ClickOS, Erlang on Xen, OSv, HALVM, and Minicache, among others.
>    The fundamental drawback of unikernels is that they require that
>    applications be manually ported to the underlying minimalistic OS
>    having to port nginx, snort, mysql or memcached to MiniOS or OSv);
>    requires both expert work and often considerable amount of time. In
>    essence, we need to pick between either high performance with
>    or no porting effort but decreased performance and decreased
>    with standard OS/VM images. The goal of this proposal is to change
>    status quo by providing a highly configurable unikernel code base; we
>    this base Unicore.
>    This project also aims to concentrate the various efforts currently
>    on in the Xen community regarding minimalistic OSes (essentially
>    variants of MiniOS). We think that splitting the community across
>    variants is counter-productive and hope that Unicore will provide a
>    place for all or most improvements and customizations of minimalistic
>    OSes. The long term goal is to replace something like MiniOS with a
>    that can automatically build such a minimalistic OS.
>    Unicore - The "Unikernel Core"
>    ---------------------------------
>    The high level goal of Unicore is to be able to build unikernels
>    at specific applications without requiring the time-consuming, expert
>    that building such a unikernel requires today. An additional goal (or
>    hope) of Unicore is that all developers interested in unikernel
>    development would contribute by supplying libraries rather than
>working on
>    independent projects with different code bases as it is done now. The
>    idea behind Unicore is depicted in Figure 1 and consists of two basic
>    components:
>    [Attachment: unicore-oneslider.pdf]
>    Figure 1. Unicore architecture.
>    Library pools would contain libraries that the user of Unicore can
>    from to create the unikernel. From the bottom up, library pools are
>    organized into (1) the architecture library tool, containing libraries
>    specific to a computer architecture (e.g., x86_64, ARM32 or MIPS);
>(2) the
>    platform tool, where target platforms can be Xen, KVM, bare metal
>(i.e. no
>    virtualization) and user-space Linux; and (3) the main library pool,
>    containing a rich set of functionality to build the unikernel from.
>    last library includes drivers (both virtual such as netback/netfront
>    physical such as ixgbe), filesystems, memory allocators, schedulers,
>    network stacks, standard libs (e.g. libc, openssl, etc.), runtimes
>(e.g. a
>    Python interpreter and debugging and profiling tools. These pools of
>    libraries constitute a code base for creating unikernels. As shown, a
>    library can be relatively large (e.g libc) or quite small (a
>    which should allow for a fair amount of customization for the
>    The Unicore build tool is in charge of compiling the application and
>    selected libraries together to create a binary for a specific
>platform and
>    architecture (e.g., Xen on x86_64). The tool is currently inspired by
>    Linux’s kconfig system and consists of a set of Makefiles. It allows
>    to select libraries, to configure them, and to warn them when library
>    dependencies are not met. In addition, the tool can also
>    generate binaries for multiple platforms.
>    As an example, imagine a user wanting to generate a network driver
>    unikernel. In this case, we would assume the “application” to be the
>    netback driver. To select this application, the user would first run
>    menuconfig” from within the netback application folder. The Makefile
>    would set a variable to indicate what the application is, and would
>    include the main Unicore Makefiles so that the unikernel can be built
>    (Step 1 in the figure). Using the menu-based system, the user chooses
>    relevant libraries; for a Xen driver domain this would include a
>    network driver, the netback driver, the libxenplat library and a
>    from the architecture library pool such as libx86_64arch (Step 2 in
>    figure). With this in place, the user saves the configuration and
>    “make” to build the unikernel (Step 3) and xl create to run it (Step
>    A note on the ABI/API: because Unicore allows for customization of the
>    unikernels, the ABI (or API since there is no kernel) would be custom,
>    that is, defined by the libraries the user selected. Having said
>that, it
>    would be perfectly possible, for instance, to build POSIX-compliant
>    unikernels with it.
>    Relevance to Xen and its Community
>    -----------------------------------
>    Unikernels are important to a number of areas relevant to the Xen
>    community, including IoT, automotive, stub domains and driver domain
>    disaggregation. Unicore could help boost the progress in all of these
>    areas by quickly providing the necessary tools to create  unikernels
>    them. For instance, for a driver domain, the user would include the
>    “library” containing the relevant hardware driver and corresponding
>    back-end driver, and in principle Unicore would take care of the rest.
>    In addition, Unicore could eventually replace Mini-OS, providing a
>    cleaner, more stable and flexible base from which to build unikernels
>    projects (the modularization of Mini-OS is in fact already taking
>    Current Status
>    --------------
>    Unicore is at an early stage. For now it includes some base libraries
>    code extracted from Mini-OS as well as a build tool inspired by
>    Linux's KConfig system. Unicore is currently able to build "hello
>    unikernels for Xen and Linux user space on x86_64 and ARMv7.
>    Incubation
>    ----------
>    The reason behind making Unicore a Xen sub-project project is to (1)
>    the existence of Unicore to the attention of the Xen community
>    and to outside world; (2) to attempt to harness interest and
>    development cycles from people and companies interested in
>    unikernels; and (3) to concentrate maintenance resources from people
>    interested in unikernels within the community.
>    License
>    -------
>    The main license of the run-time components of Unicore will be a
>    BSD license, unless there is a good reason not to use it (e.g. we may
>    import 2-clause BSD licensed code from Mini-OS, which we would *not*
>    anticipate to change). The Makefile system would be licensed under
>GPL v2
>    or later as we want to be able to use KConfig functionality from
>    Buildroot/Linux.
>    Required Infrastructure
>    -----------------------
>    The official repositories should be created on
>    [http://xenbits.xenproject.org/] under `unicore.git`. There should be
>    main repository for the core unicore implementation and additional
>    repositories for some more advanced extension libraries (e.g., lwIP,
>    newlib).
>    ### Main repository
>    `unicore.git`
>    ### Repositories for extension libraries
>    Repositories for additional libraries that are supported by the
>    project should exist under a separate directory:
>    `unicore-libs/`
>    For example:
>    `unicore-libs/lwip.git`
>    `unicore-libs/newlib.git`
>    ### Mailing list
>    In the beginning we would use the MiniOS mailing list
>    (minios-devel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx). When we get traction with
>Unicore we
>    could consider splitting that traffic onto a unicore mailing list.
>    ============================================================
>    Dr. Felipe Huici
>    Chief Researcher, Networked Systems and Data
>    Analytics Group
>    NEC Laboratories Europe, Network Research Division
>    Kurfuerstenanlage 36, D-69115 Heidelberg
>    Tel.     +49
>    (0)6221 4342-241
>    Fax:     +49
>    (0)6221 4342-155
>    e-mail: 
>    felipe.huici@xxxxxxxxx
>    ============================================================
>    NEC Europe Limited Registered Office: NEC House, 1
>    Victoria Road, London W3 6BL Registered in England 2832014

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