Video: Queue Portrait: Robert Watson

A busy system makes thousands of scheduling decisions per second, so the speed with which scheduling decisions are made is critical to the performance of the system as a whole. This article – excerpted from the forthcoming book, “The Design…

A busy system makes thousands of scheduling decisions per second, so the speed with which scheduling decisions are made is critical to the performance of the system as a whole. This article – excerpted from the forthcoming book, “The Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD Operating System” – uses the example of the open source FreeBSD system to help us understand thread scheduling. The original FreeBSD scheduler was designed in the 1980s for large uniprocessor systems. Although it continues to work well in that environment today, the new ULE scheduler was designed specifically to optimize multiprocessor and multithread environments. This article first studies the original FreeBSD scheduler, then describes the new ULE scheduler.

Marshall Kirk McKusick, George V. Neville-Neil

Desktop Linux: Where Art Thou?

Linux on the desktop has come a long way – and it’s been a roller-coaster ride. At the height of the dot-com boom, around the time of Red Hat’s initial public offering, people expected Linux to take off on the desktop in short order. A few years later, after the stock market crash and the failure of a couple of high-profile Linux companies, pundits were quick to proclaim the stillborn death of Linux on the desktop.

Bart Decrem

There’s No Such Thing as a Free (Software) Lunch

“The licenses for most software are designed to take away your freedom to share and change it. By contrast, the GNU General Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change free software to make sure the software is free for all its users.” So begins the GNU General Public License, or GPL, which has become the most widely used of open source software licenses. Freedom is the watchword; it’s no coincidence that the organization that wrote the GPL is called the Free Software Foundation and that open source developers everywhere proclaim, “Information wants to be free.”

Jay Michaelson

Is Open Source Right for You?:A Fictional Case Study of Open Source in a Commercial Software Shop

The media often present open source software as a direct competitor to commercial software. This depiction, usually pitting David (Linux) against Goliath (Microsoft), makes for fun reading in the weekend paper. However, it mostly misses the point of what open source means to a development organization. In this article, I use the experiences of GizmoSoft (a fictitious software company) to present some perspectives on the impact of open source software usage in a software development shop.

David Ascher

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Open Source

Robert Watson is a security researcher and open source developer at the University of Cambridge looking at the hardware-software interface. He talks to us about spanning industry and academia, the importance of open source in software research, and challenges facing research that spans traditional boundaries in computer science. We also learn a bit about CPU security, and why applications, rather than operating systems, are increasingly the focus of security research. What are the challenges in the evolving hardware-software interface? Could open source hardware provide a platform for hardware-software research? And why is current hardware part of the problem? George Neville-Neil, Queue’s Kode Vicious, interviews Robert to learn about an exciting computer science research project at Cambridge.