Seminars & Colloquia

Henry Levy

Computer Science, University of Washington

"Reliability Challenges for Commodity Operating Systems"

Monday November 13, 2006 04:00 PM
Location: 313, MRC NCSU Centennial Campus
(Visitor parking instructions)

This talk is part of the Triangle Computer Science Distinguished Lecturer Series


Abstract: This talk will describe two research efforts that explore internal and external challenges to operating system reliability.

First, I will talk about the major internal challenge to reliability, namely operating system extensions, i.e., code written by third parties that is loaded dynamically into the OS. Surprisingly, extensions such as device drivers now account for an enormous portion of privileged code. For example, drivers make up 70% of Linux kernel code, while there are over 35,000 drivers for Windows/XP! Unfortunately, these extensions cause the vast majority of system crashes. I will describe the “Nooks” approach to solving the extension/reliability problem. Nooks allows the system and its applications to continue running in the face of extension failures, while requiring little or no change to either the extensions or the OS.

Second, I will talk about a major external challenge to reliability, namely Web-borne threats, such as spyware. I’ll discuss the problem of spyware and an Internet study we’ve conducted to try to quantify the spyware problem. As well, I’ll briefly discuss some new techniques we’ve prototyped for protecting against spyware and other malicious code.

Short Bio: Henry M. Levy holds the Wissner-Slivka Chair in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. Hank's research projects focus on computer operating systems, distributed and parallel computing, the world-wide web, and computer architecture.

He is author of two books and numerous papers on computer systems, including eight best paper selections from the top OS conferences (SOSP and OSDI). He is former chair of ACM SIGOPS (the Special Interest Group on Operating Systems), former program chair of the ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (SOSP), the ACM Conference on Arhictectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems (ASPLOS), and the IEEE Workshop on Hot Topics in Operating Systems (HOTOS). Before coming to Washington, Hank was a Consulting Engineer with Digital Equipment Corporation, where he worked on operating systems and architectures for distributed systems and workstations. He is a member of the Technical Advisory Boards of Isilon Systems,, Mercury, and Madrona Venture Group, and was a co-founder of Performant, Inc. (acquired by Mercury in 2003). Hank is a Fellow of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), a Fellow of the IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers), and recipient of a Fulbright Research Scholar Award.

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Host: Kevin Jeffay, Computer Science, UNC

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