Software Systems

Are virtual-machine monitors microkernels done right?


Gernot Heiser, Volkmar Uhlig and Joshua LeVasseur

NICTA, Sydney, Australia
UNSW, Australia


NICTA publication PA005103.

A paper by Hand et al. at the recent HotOS work- shop re-examined microkernels and contrasted them to virtual-machine monitors (VMMs). It found that the two kinds of systems share architectural com- monalities but also have a number of technical dif- ferences which the paper examined. It concluded that VMMs are a special case of microkernels, "microker- nels done right". A closer examination of that paper shows that it contains a number of statements which are poorly justified or even refuted by the literature. While we believe that it is indeed timely to reexamine the mer- its and issues of microkernels, such an examination needs to be based on facts.

BibTeX Entry

    author           = {Gernot Heiser and Volkmar Uhlig and Joshua LeVasseur},
    number           = {PA005103},
    month            = {oct},
    year             = {2005},
    title            = {Are Virtual-Machine Monitors Microkernels Done Right?},
    institution      = {NICTA}