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<trademark class="registered">Linux</trademark> emulation in FreeBSD

<personname> <firstname>Roman</firstname> <surname>Divacky</surname> </personname> <affiliation> <_:address-1/> </affiliation>
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$FreeBSD: head/en_US.ISO8859-1/articles/linux-emulation/article.xml 53664 2019-12-07 16:24:22Z carlavilla $
This masters thesis deals with updating the <trademark class="registered">Linux</trademark> emulation layer (the so called <firstterm>Linuxulator</firstterm>). The task was to update the layer to match the functionality of <trademark class="registered">Linux</trademark> 2.6. As a reference implementation, the <trademark class="registered">Linux</trademark> 2.6.16 kernel was chosen. The concept is loosely based on the NetBSD implementation. Most of the work was done in the summer of 2006 as a part of the Google Summer of Code students program. The focus was on bringing the <firstterm>NPTL</firstterm> (new <trademark class="registered">POSIX</trademark> thread library) support into the emulation layer, including <firstterm>TLS</firstterm> (thread local storage), <firstterm>futexes</firstterm> (fast user space mutexes), <firstterm>PID mangling</firstterm>, and some other minor things. Many small problems were identified and fixed in the process. My work was integrated into the main FreeBSD source repository and will be shipped in the upcoming 7.0R release. We, the emulation development team, are working on making the <trademark class="registered">Linux</trademark> 2.6 emulation the default emulation layer in FreeBSD.
In the last few years the open source <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark> based operating systems started to be widely deployed on server and client machines. Among these operating systems I would like to point out two: FreeBSD, for its BSD heritage, time proven code base and many interesting features and <trademark class="registered">Linux</trademark> for its wide user base, enthusiastic open developer community and support from large companies. FreeBSD tends to be used on server class machines serving heavy duty networking tasks with less usage on desktop class machines for ordinary users. While <trademark class="registered">Linux</trademark> has the same usage on servers, but it is used much more by home based users. This leads to a situation where there are many binary only programs available for <trademark class="registered">Linux</trademark> that lack support for FreeBSD.
Naturally, a need for the ability to run <trademark class="registered">Linux</trademark> binaries on a FreeBSD system arises and this is what this thesis deals with: the emulation of the <trademark class="registered">Linux</trademark> kernel in the FreeBSD operating system.
During the Summer of 2006 Google Inc. sponsored a project which focused on extending the <trademark class="registered">Linux</trademark> emulation layer (the so called Linuxulator) in FreeBSD to include <trademark class="registered">Linux</trademark> 2.6 facilities. This thesis is written as a part of this project.
A look inside…
In this section we are going to describe every operating system in question. How they deal with syscalls, trapframes etc., all the low-level stuff. We also describe the way they understand common <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark> primitives like what a PID is, what a thread is, etc. In the third subsection we talk about how <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark> on <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark> emulation could be done in general.
What is <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark>
<trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark> is an operating system with a long history that has influenced almost every other operating system currently in use. Starting in the 1960s, its development continues to this day (although in different projects). <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark> development soon forked into two main ways: the BSDs and System III/V families. They mutually influenced themselves by growing a common <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark> standard. Among the contributions originated in BSD we can name virtual memory, TCP/IP networking, FFS, and many others. The System V branch contributed to SysV interprocess communication primitives, copy-on-write, etc. <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark> itself does not exist any more but its ideas have been used by many other operating systems world wide thus forming the so called <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark>-like operating systems. These days the most influential ones are <trademark class="registered">Linux</trademark>, Solaris, and possibly (to some extent) FreeBSD. There are in-company <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark> derivatives (AIX, HP-UX etc.), but these have been more and more migrated to the aforementioned systems. Let us summarize typical <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark> characteristics.
Technical details
Every running program constitutes a process that represents a state of the computation. Running process is divided between kernel-space and user-space. Some operations can be done only from kernel space (dealing with hardware etc.), but the process should spend most of its lifetime in the user space. The kernel is where the management of the processes, hardware, and low-level details take place. The kernel provides a standard unified <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark> API to the user space. The most important ones are covered below.
Communication between kernel and user space process
Common <trademark class="registered">UNIX</trademark> API defines a syscall as a way to issue commands from a user space process to the kernel. The most common implementation is either by using an interrupt or specialized instruction (think of <literal>SYSENTER</literal>/<literal>SYSCALL</literal> instructions for ia32). Syscalls are defined by a number. For example in FreeBSD, the syscall number 85 is the <citerefentry><refentrytitle>swapon</refentrytitle><manvolnum>2</manvolnum></citerefentry> syscall and the syscall number 132 is <citerefentry><refentrytitle>mkfifo</refentrytitle><manvolnum>2</manvolnum></citerefentry>. Some syscalls need parameters, which are passed from the user-space to the kernel-space in various ways (implementation dependant). Syscalls are synchronous.
Another possible way to communicate is by using a <firstterm>trap</firstterm>. Traps occur asynchronously after some event occurs (division by zero, page fault etc.). A trap can be transparent for a process (page fault) or can result in a reaction like sending a <firstterm>signal</firstterm> (division by zero).
Communication between processes


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Source string comment
(itstool) path: info/pubdate (itstool) path: info/releaseinfo
ignore-same, read-only
Source string location
article.translate.xml:54 article.translate.xml:56
String age
11 months ago
Source string age
11 months ago
Translation file
articles/linux-emulation.pot, string 14