next up previous
Next: About this document ... Up: A user-mode port of Previous: Access to physical hardware


The user-mode port of the Linux kernel represents an interesting and potentially significant addition to the kernel pool. It is the first virtual kernel running on Linux, except possibly for VMWare. As such, it places new demands on the host kernel, possibly resulting in new functionality, which may then be used by other applications. This has already happened. Until 2.2.15 and 2.3.22, ptrace on Linux/i386 was not able to modify system call numbers (and on other architectures, it still can't). The demands of this port prompted Linus and Alan to add that feature, at which point several other applications started using it. At least one of those applications was completely impossible beforehand.

Aside from this port, the only options for running virtual machines are VMWare and IBM VM. In both of those cases, potential applications maybe be ruled out for economic reasons or because VM doesn't run on the application platform. The availability of a free virtual machine running on Linux may open up new opportunities that were reserved for mainframes or which just didn't exist before.

Jeff Dike 2000-08-25