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Microkernel-Based Operating Systems


This lecture is going to introduce various aspects and concepts regarding the construction and implementation of microkernel-based operating system. In the first part, we introduce fundamental mechanisms that are required for efficient construction of an operating system on top of a microkernel. In the second part of the lecture, we show you real systems that have been built using these concepts. While strongly focussing on the microkernel work done at TU Dresden, we also take a look at alternatives.

Having attended the lecture on microkernel construction might help you to understand some concepts easier, but it is not necessary. In fact, we recommend to attend this lecture here first.

In addition to the lecture, we also have a practical course in which you will built parts of an operating system on top of a L4 microkernel in a group of 2-4 students. You are encouraged to take this practical course, too.

The lecture will cover the following aspects:
  • The TU Dresden Operating System (TUD:OS)
  • Basic services provided by the L4 Runtime Environment (L4Re)
  • Resource Management and Real-Time
  • The Genode Operating System Framework
  • Virtualization concepts, especially para-virtualizing Linux (L4Linux)
  • Building secure systems
  • Reusing commodity software in a microkernel environment


  1. Introduction
  2. Threads
  3. Inter-Process Communication
  4. Memory
  5. Real-Time
  6. Device Drivers
  7. Resource Management
  8. Virtualization
  9. Legacy Reuse
  10. Security
  11. Security Architectures
  12. Trusted Computing
  13. L4/Android
  14. Operating Systems vs. Fault Tolerance


We will have two types of exercises. Practical exercises give you the opportunity to get hands-on experience using the software presented during the lecture. Paper Reading exercises let you practice reading scientific papers and shall inspire discussion on research ideas. All topics covered during the exercises may be content of your exam.

Practical Exercises

5th November, room INF E069
Getting Started
3th December, room INF E069
Inter-process Communication (source code) (solution)
14th January, room INF E069
Virtualization (L4Linux)

Paper Reading

In preparation for these exercises you are required to read the paper to be presented in the exercise. Prepare at least three questions regarding topics of the paper. These may cover things you don't understand as well as arguments you do not believe in or ideas that arose from your reading. You will be expected to sum up the paper during the exercise as well as discuss your questions.

22nd October
Per Brinch Hansen: "The Nucleus of a Multiprogramming System"
17th December
Galen Hunt: Singularity: Rethinking the Software Stack
21st January
Gerald Popek, Robert Goldberg: Formal Requirements for Virtualizable Third-Generation Architectures
Robert Goldberg: Survey of Virtual Machine Research(additional literature for better understanding)
28th January
Bryan Ford, Mike Hibler, Jay Lepreau, Patrick Tullmann, Godmar Back, Stephen Clawson: Microkernels meet Recursive Virtual Machines
Last modified: 19th Aug 2014, 11.18 AM
Author: Webmaster

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  • ModuleModules: INF-BAS4, INF-VERT4, INF-04-FG-AVS, MINF-04-FG-SAT, DSE-E9
  • Credits6 Credit Points
  • 2/1/0 = 3 SWS
Time and Place
  • Lecture, weekly
    TimeTue, 4.40 PM PlaceINF E001
  • Exercise, in odd-numbered weeks
    TimeTue, 2.50 PM PlaceINF E008
Mailing List
  • All attendees are asked to subscribe to the mailing list.
  • The list only accepts TU Dresden E-Mail addresses.