DragonFly BSD
DragonFly kernel List (threaded) for 2006-02
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Re: User-Space Device Drivers

To: Matthew Dillon <dillon@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: William Grim <wgrim@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2006 20:23:12 -0600

Emiel and Matt,

I understand what each of you are saying. I understand that this work may or may not be used in the end, but it's a good thesis project and one I will complete to the best of my ability. It may also prove to perform better than some people think it will, causing some to reconsider approaching driver development in user-space; on the other hand, it may prove that this approach still isn't useful for certain things such as drivers that need direct access to hardware.

My goal is to supplement what DFly currently has available in terms of kernel-space drivers. My reasons aren't exactly for the reasons either of you have, but it's just so that adoption goes smoother. For example, it's not like drivers could all be placed into user-space over night; that would be a radical change that wouldn't allow thorough analysis as to whether moving the driver from kernel-space to user-space was even beneficial.

Ultimately, I think that from an engineering perspective, a hybrid kernel probably is the preferred treatment of most kernels over pure microkernel and pure monolithic approaches. However, think of the possibilities with a user-space framework... it could make it so easy to setup virtual devices (devices on other systems that appear to be on your own system) transparently when it's obvious that the CPU is not the bottleneck (the I/O link itself would be).

Matt, I may have some questions for you regarding DFly soon. If I can't find the answers in the source or docs, perhaps I could hit the news list with them and get some feedback from you?

Thanks much, friends!

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