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Re: [MirageOS-devel] Formal vote on Unicore Proposal (deadline Frid, Oct 6th)

On Fri, 29 Sep 2017, Lars Kurth wrote:
> Dear committers,
> in accordance with https://www.xenproject.org/governance.html, I need the 
> leadership teams of the two mature projects – the Hypervisor and the XAPI 
> project – to vote on this proposal.
> The Advisory Board is endorsing the proposal and there seems to be wide 
> consensus amongst community members.
> The specific voting rules in this case are outlined in section 
> https://www.xenproject.org/governance.html#project-decisions
> People allowed to vote on behalf of the Hypervisor project are:
> Julien Grall, Andy Cooper, George Dunlap, Ian Jackson, Jan Beulich, Konrad R 
> Wilk, Stefano Stabellini, Tim Deegan, Wei Liu
> People allowed to vote on behalf of the XAPI project are:
> Jon Ludlam, Chandrika Srinivasan, David Scott, Euan Harris, Germano Percossi, 
> Siddharth Vinoth Kumar, John Else, Mate Lakat, Konstantina Chremmou, Rob 
> Hoes, Si Beaumont, Thanos Makatos, Thomas Sanders, Vineeth Thampi Raveendran, 
> Zheng Li
> I propose to tally the votes by Friday the 6th of October. You can reply via
> +1: for proposal
> -1: against proposal
> in public or private.


> Votes will be tallied by subproject – aka the Hypervisor and XAPI project by 
> % for the proposal - and then averaged across sub-projects that achieved the 
> quorum. 
> Sub-project needs to achieve the following quorum of votes in favour for the 
> sub-project’s vote to count
> Hypervisor: 3 + votes
> XAPI: 5 + votes
> The proposals are attached
> Regards
> Lars
> PROPOSAL: Unicore
> =================
> Roles
> -----
> Project Leads:    Simon Kuenzer      <simon.kuenzer@xxxxxxxxx>
>      (co-lead)    Felipe Huici       <felipe.huici@xxxxxxxxx>
>      (co-lead)    Florian Schmidt    <florian.schmidt@xxxxxxxxx>
> Project Mentor:   Lars Kurth         <lars.kurth@xxxxxxxxxx>
> Project Sponsors: Stefano Stabellini <sstabellini@xxxxxxxxxx>
>                   Wei Liu            <wei.liu2@xxxxxxxxxx>
> Background
> ----------
> In recent years, several papers and projects dedicated to unikernels
> have 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 (tens of milliseconds or less), tiny memory
> footprints (a few MBs or even KBs), high network throughput (10-40
> Gb/s), and high consolidation (e.g., being able to run thousands of
> instances on a single commodity server), not to 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, Rump, among others.
> The fundamental drawback of unikernels is that they require that
> applications be manually ported to the underlying minimalistic OS (e.g.
> having to port nginx, snort, mysql or memcached to MiniOS or OSv); this
> requires both expert work and often considerable amount of time. In
> essence, we need to pick between either high performance
> with unikernels, or no porting effort but decreased performance
> and decreased efficiency with standard OS/VM images.
> The goal of this proposal is to change this status quo by providing
> a highly configurable unikernel code base; we call this base Unicore.
> This project also aims to concentrate the various efforts currently going
> on in the Xen community regarding minimalistic OSes (essentially different
> variants of MiniOS). We think that splitting the community across these
> variants is counter-productive and hope that Unicore will provide a common
> place for all or most improvements and customizations of minimalistic
> OSes. The long term goal is to replace something like MiniOS with a tool
> 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 targeted
> at specific applications without requiring the time-consuming, expert work
> 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 main
> 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 select
> 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. This
> last library includes drivers (both virtual such as netback/netfront and
> 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 scheduler),
> which should allow for a fair amount of customization for the unikernel.
> The Unicore build tool is in charge of compiling the application and the
> 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 users
> to select libraries, to configure them, and to warn them when library
> dependencies are not met. In addition, the tool can also simultaneously
> generate binaries for multiple platforms.
> As an example, imagine a user wanting to generate a network driver domain
> unikernel. In this case, we would assume the “application” to be the
> netback driver. To select this application, the user would first run “make
> menuconfig” from within the netback application folder. The Makefile there
> 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 the
> relevant libraries; for a Xen driver domain this would include a physical
> network driver, the netback driver, the libxenplat library and a library
> from the architecture library pool such as libx86_64arch (Step 2 in the
> figure). With this in place, the user saves the configuration and types
> “make” to build the unikernel (Step 3) and “xl create” to run it (Step 4).
> A note on the ABI/API exposed to the application: 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 (e.g. similar to Rump, but in
> principle with much more specialized OS layers).
> Finally, it is worth pointing out that we use the term application
> loosely: another clear target for Unicore is the building of
> runtime-specific unikernels (e.g. a unikernel able to run Python or OCaml
> scripts as is the case with MirageOS).
> 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/dom0
> disaggregation. Unicore could help boost the progress in all of these
> areas by quickly providing the necessary tools to create  unikernels for
> 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 for
> projects (the modularization of Mini-OS is in fact already taking place).
> Current Status
> --------------
> Unicore is at an early stage. For now it includes some base libraries with
> code extracted from Mini-OS as well as a build tool inspired by Linux's
> KConfig system. Unicore is currently able to build "hello world"
> 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)
> bring the existence of Unicore to the attention of the Xen community
> and to outside world; (2) to attempt to harness interest and
> potentially development cycles from people and companies interested in
> unikernels; (3) to concentrate maintenance resources from people
> interested in unikernels within the community; and (4) to have a legal
> entity behind the project.
> License
> -------
> The main license of the run-time components of Unicore will be a 3-clause
> 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 a
> 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 Unicore
> 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.
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