Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Operating Systems Software Microsoft

The Microsoft Singularity 615

jose parinas writes ""Microsoft Research has published the first details of a wholly new operating system under development called Singularity, designed new from the ground up, built on a new language and designed with emphasis on dependability instead of performance.""
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Microsoft Singularity

Comments Filter:
  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:34PM (#13942866) Homepage Journal
    I've heard that Microsoft Singularity sucks [].

    (Go ahead, mod me down... I deserve it.)
    • Microsoft's Singularity is also the antithesis of accelerating intelligence towards the technological Singularity [].

      Also - just great - now my Google News Email Alerts for the "singularity" keyword will be poisoned with MS' chaff. Maybe next week they'll come out with a "Nanotech" brand mouse too.

    • I've heard that Microsoft Singularity sucks.

      There is, of course, another sort of singularity [] ... "when technological progress [accelerates] due to the advent of superhuman intelligence..."

      Maybe this new Microsoft thingie is that.

    • IMPORTANT (Score:4, Informative)

      by MountainMan101 ( 714389 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @03:35PM (#13944438)
      I'm only replying to the parent so that this post is high up the screen.

      Look at page 31 of this PDF. Microsoft publish benchmark statistics showing Linux (and FreeBSD) to be better than Windows. 5.pdf []
      • by RedLaggedTeut ( 216304 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @05:32PM (#13945599) Homepage Journal
        Results are mixed;

        According to the benchmarks published there

          - at most OS jobs like threading/process creation, Singularity is at least twice as fast as linux, Linux is very fast at process creation, while XP is good at threads

          - in File Operations FreeBSD and Linux beat XP and Singularity at random reads

          - in File Operations XP beats Linux and Singularity at sequential reads, with the exception of FreeBSD being fastest if blocksize is high(and very bad for small blocksize)

          - linux executable size are larger than these of the other OSes, (whatever that means, more good coding, or less bad code SCNR)

        Please bear in mind that a benchmark does not it tell whether the "slower" OS actually invested more time in doing some smart stuff that pays off in some other way.
  • by pwnage ( 856708 )
    "Because when we blue screen, all of your data goes down into a black hole."
  • singularity (Score:3, Funny)

    by technicolor.cavalry ( 922144 ) <> on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:35PM (#13942881)
    so this one is going to be *so bad* that it's impossible to predict what will happen after its release?
  • MS-DOS 7.0 (Score:3, Funny)

    by simetra ( 155655 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:35PM (#13942891) Homepage Journal
    Yeah baby!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:36PM (#13942896)
    So, a new OS that can distroy all data AND matter.

    So much more advanced than a BSOD.
  • "We're sorry -- you have reached this page because a web server error occurred."
    They're talking about reliability and yet it looks like we already sladotted the page.
    Somehow, this leaves me wanting more</toungeincheek>
  • /.'ed (Score:5, Funny)

    by wiggles ( 30088 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:36PM (#13942900)
    Reliability, eh? Obviously, their web server isn't based on this OS.
  • by jpsowin ( 325530 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:37PM (#13942910) Homepage
    Server Error in '/' Application.

    Runtime Error

    Wow, that page came up pretty fast. I guess their web server is built for performance instead of dependability.
  • Except that (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pike ( 52876 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:38PM (#13942929) Homepage Journal
    except that this implies that their other OSs emphasized performance over dependability.
  • ".....designed new from the ground up, built on a new language and designed with emphasis on dependability instead of performance."

    How about security? God knows their OS'es need some.
    • that's different (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jbeaupre ( 752124 )
      Security means your safe. Dependability could mean that or that you can depend on being shafted on a regular basis. This is MS, so I'm guessing they mean the later.
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:39PM (#13942940)
    > We're sorry -- you have reached this page because a web server error occurred. There are many possible causes for this type of error, so we can't be more specific.

    Current setup was slashdotted within six comments.

    Future setup will place an "emphasis on dependability instead of performance".

    I'd say it sucks galactic black holes through buckytube, but that still wouldn't approach the Singular suckitude we're looking for.

    Bite my dimly red-shifted neutronium ass.

    • Premature optimization is the root of all blah blah blah. The web server isn't be running on Singularity anyway. OpenBSD shares a similar (albeit more human than mechanical) focus on correctness over performance, but nobody seems to think it is doomed to failure because of that.

      I think "Singularity" is not worth a hill of beans, but mostly because its novel ideas have already been tried and made little headway. Java systems have applied similar approaches to securing multiple processes within an address s
    • "There are many possible causes for this type of error, so we can't be more specific."

      Because, like every other piece of software on the planet, we can't be bothered to actually keep track of what's going on in the program so we could tell you what the cause was. You'll notice our "new language" can't do that, either.

      Besides, we like issuing stupid error messages like every other Geek Moron(TM). Communication is not our strong suit.

      Besides, it would cost Bill money to do that - and that's not allowed around
  • New UI? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pinback ( 80041 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:39PM (#13942941) Homepage Journal
    Will the user interface be called Event Horizon?
  • by n6mod ( 17734 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:40PM (#13942953) Homepage
    Glad to see they're sticking with their naming convention... This just confirms that it will take MS until the end of time to ship a stable OS.

  • Well.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Petaris ( 771874 )
            "designed with emphasis on dependability instead of performance."

    Well since there goal has always been to have both dependability and preformance and they never succeded I suppose it is rather wise for them to cut back on the complexity and just try to get one of them.

  • by Lendrick ( 314723 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:42PM (#13942990) Homepage Journal
    Last week, the latest build of Windows Vista became so horrendously bloated that it underwent gravitational collapse... coincidence?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    anonymous so as not to whore karma:

    One interesting concept is the abstraction of Software Isolated Processes (SIPs).

    SIPs provide the strong isolation guarantees of OS processes (isolated object space, separate GCs, separate runtimes) without the overhead of hardware-enforced protection domains. In the current Singularity prototype SIPs are extremely cheap; they run in ring 0 in the kernel's address space. Singularity uses these advances to build more reliable systems and applications. For example, because S
  • something wierd happens here and we don't really know why.

    [paraphrasing of course, sure the math battallion will come in to clarify]

    Not the greatest marketing name I would think
  • Google cache (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sachu ( 608279 )
    I know nobody will be interested to see this, but here is the link to google cache ingularity&hl=en&client=firefox-a []
  • by lopati ( 74873 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:47PM (#13943052) Homepage
    here's jim larus and galen hunt talking about their project [].
  • I hacked on this... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by megabeck42 ( 45659 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:47PM (#13943055)
    I saw and worked on this a bit while interning at Microsoft. Although what I say is my own and doesn't reflect Microsoft in any way, it's important to remember that this is a research operating system, so its not challenging or replacing Windows. They have some very good, solid ideas. I hope that, someday, it will be released.
  • by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:49PM (#13943073)
  • Service Unavailable
  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:56PM (#13943169) Homepage
    As far as I can see, the language in question is not exactly "new" anymore, being C#. In other words, this is sort of a demo OS written in a managed-code environment as a way to test various OS principles (which in this case sound a lot like the virtualization stuff that so many other vendors are also doing). Singularity seems like the equivalent of writing an operating system in Java for a school project.
    • by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @03:18PM (#13944227) Homepage Journal
      As far as I can see, the language in question is not exactly "new" anymore, being C#.

      Actually its an extended version of Spec# which is in turn an extension of C#. It might help to acquaint yourself with what that actually means. The first significant different is that Spec# allows for explicit pre and post conditions and other formal specificiation syntax, and hence allows for model checking, extended static checking, and formal proof if required.

      It's more like someone writing an OS in BitC [] because it can be formally verified and hence be more secure. It does make sense, and there is good logic behind it. Comparing it to an OS in Java is just silly. Comparing it to an OS written in Java using JML [] and associated theorem provers [] is getting a little closer. Of course that doesn't address the issue of designing the OS to be more secure and reliable from the outset, and not just relying on formal verification.

      If you actually bothered to read some of the material on Singularity you would see that it is an ambitious, but remarkably interesting and promising project. It is also, I would expect, something that will permanently remain buried in MS research like so many other projects. I would be interested in seeing a good open source equivalent though - such a project might have some hope of surviving.

  • Not much to say about this OS until Microsoft learns how to keep their server alive during a slashdotting...

    But from the second link it seems that almost everything - including user programs - executes in socalled Software Isolated Processes (SIPs), and that these SIPs all run in ring 0.

    [sarcasm] Looks to me like Microsoft is working hard to keep their current security leadership... [/sarcasm]

  • by spectrokid ( 660550 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:57PM (#13943192) Homepage
    An OS written in C#? Could be good. Not for a gaming machine, but what about an ATM? A controller in an industrial environment? Imagine a PC with no memory leaks,like ever. No buffer overflows. No monthly patching hell. Would make one tough SOB as a firewall.

  • It's named "WinUX."

  • by ndogg ( 158021 ) <the.rhorn@gm a i l .com> on Thursday November 03, 2005 @02:01PM (#13943242) Homepage Journal
    Check out EROS [] for an implementation that exists now. Granted, EROS itself is no longer being developed, it was definitely around before this OS, and EROS has spawned some new projects (look on the link for links).
    • apples and oranges (Score:5, Interesting)

      by idlake ( 850372 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @03:23PM (#13944298)
      The two are very different beasts.

      EROS uses C and relies on memory management hardware for isolation. EROS also can't analyze or verify code it loads.

      Singularity uses C# and does not use memory management hardware for protection; it guarantees isolation via runtime checks, and it can perform extensive code analysis on load.

      I don't know whether Singularity is going to make it, but I have used and developed on systems like it (the idea isn't new), and it is a lot nicer than either UNIX kernels or EROS-like kernels.
      • by naasking ( 94116 )
        EROS uses C and relies on memory management hardware for isolation. EROS also can't analyze or verify code it loads.

        I don't want to re-hash our previous argument on this subject [], but the above statement is trivially falsifiable. Singularity is built on a microkernel. EROS is built on a microkernel. Anything that can be built on Singularity, can be built on EROS, including verifiers, virtual machines, Software Isolated Processes, etc.

        EROS has a default mechanism for isolating faults and loading untrusted cod
        • by cartman ( 18204 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @10:44PM (#13947567)
          Singularity is built on a microkernel. EROS is built on a microkernel.
          You completely misunderstood the point of Singularity. The point of Singularity is that all code (except OS code) is subject to verification, and any code that isn't verifiable is runtime bounds-checked. Furthermore, in Singularity, inter-process communication is structured, such that the OS can verify IPC traffic. Furthermore, the languages for Singularity are strongly typed at the object code level, and garbage collection is performed by the OS--explicit deallocation is impossible for any application. These facilities make it impossible for any application to have buffer overruns, segfaults, or overruns of other apps' data--as a result, all applications can run in ring 0 and virtual memory is not required.

          All that has nothing whatsoever to do with Eros. The two projects are not even similar.

          Of course a verifier could be written as an application for Eros (or for DOS, for that matter). That statement is like saying that C++ is no different from assembly, because they're both built atop similar hardware and can be used to implement the same things.

          Not that you know what developing on an EROS-like system is like, considering it's a completely revolutionary architecture comparable only to KeyKOS from which it's derived.
          The Coyotos OS is based on Eros and is quite similar. Additionally, Eros is not completely revolutionary. From the eros web page, What's new about Eros?: "Each of these faclities is...essential to providing scalable reliability, and all of them have appeared in prior systems. No prior system, however, has ... this particular combination ... in quite the same way.".
          Not that you know what developing on an EROS-like system is like
          Your arrogance is unjustified.
  • by cbiffle ( 211614 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @02:13PM (#13943374)
    My favorite bit from the research paper (linked from TFA) is the following:

    Extensions are a major cause of software reliability, security, and backward compatibility problems. Although extension code is often untrusted, unverified, faulty, or even malicious, it is loaded directly into a program's address space with no hard interface, boundary, or distinction between host and extension.

    Okay, Microsoft, I think I'm with you on this're telling us not to use ActiveX, right?

    • No, they're saying that the OS should only run software from the original developers and never be enhanced by anyone else - ESPECIALLY anything that could remotely be considered "open source."

      In other words, users must only run Microsoft Windows - and stop asking us for updates and security patches because updates and patches are not reliable or secure.

      In other words, give us your money and shut the fuck up.

      Oh, yeah, this project has Bill's seal of approval on it, all right.

      These are the sort of "brilliant
  • by WhiteWolf666 ( 145211 ) <`su.narima' `ta' `niwrehs'> on Thursday November 03, 2005 @02:18PM (#13943433) Homepage Journal

    1. Be nice to have some real competition versus Linux/OS X in terms of architecture. XP/2003 just aren't there. Vista won't be, most likely.
    2. Where such a beast (research OS) ever to become a product, would it demonstrate a high level of backwards compatibility? If not, would it actually have to compete on merits, rather than vendor lock-in?
    3. It's taken ~10 years to write Wine to the point where it is in _beta_. Now, I'm sure MS can do it faster, because they have the documentation; after all, they designed it. But how long will it take? Or will they use a virtual machine architecture?

    In any case, if MS switches to an entirely different OS architecture, I forsee the end of the MS monopoly. Release of a non-Win32 based OS, one that runs older applications (either desktop OR server) in emulation validates Linux/OS with QEMU/Virtual PC/VMware/Xen/Whatever.

    4. I doubt this will ever leave the lab. Singularity will be a test bed for MS researchers who want to play with various concepts. These things will be ported over to Vista, or whatever comes into the future. I cannot imagine a world in which MS actually started from scratch; having to market such a product against mainline-Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, AIX, and FreeBSD would be pure madness. It's already extremely difficult for MS to push Office against older versions of Office; this has generated substantial pressure towards alternative Office packages.

    It'll be significantly harder for MS to push towards a non-Windows MS operating system. Every single CIO willing to consider moving from Windows will be willing to consider moving to Linux/OS X/whatever instead.
    • Wow, quick to judge. Once MS has given up the push for performance (as in this case), you can guess they're not aiming at the end-user desktop. They don't want this to compete with Vista or any future derivative, they will want it to be used in embedded systems that can't fail. They want it to compete with Linux for small devices, not on the desktop. In cars, IV drips, air traffic controllers, and voting machines, you need computers that never ever crash, so this is the sort of thing that can be used in tho
    • Be nice to have some real competition versus Linux/OS X in terms of architecture. XP/2003 just aren't there. Vista won't be, most likely.

      Architecturally, NT is better than both Linux and OS X.

      Release of a non-Win32 based OS, one that runs older applications (either desktop OR server) in emulation validates Linux/OS with QEMU/Virtual PC/VMware/Xen/Whatever.

      Except that Microsoft would expend a great deal of effort to make the emulation transparent, seamless and easy to use. It's doubtful the same would b

  • by linumax ( 910946 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @02:22PM (#13943513)
    Maybe a good chance if you are interested!

    We are hiring! If you are interested in a full-time Researcher position, please email a C.V. or resume, a research statement, and the email addresses of three reference letter writers to Galen Hunt []. You may also email copies of two publications you feel represent your best work. Minimum education requirement for a Researcher is a Ph.D. in Computer Science or equivalent.

    To facilitate our hiring process, we strongly encourage interested fulltime researcher candidates to submit their application materials as soon as possible and preferably by February 15, 2006.

    In evaluating candidates, we pay particular attention to demonstrated qualities of research taste, innovation, and first-hand system building. We value highly a proven research track record as demonstrated by strong publications in top venues.

    If you are an exceptional Ph.D. candidate interested in a research internship, please use the MSR Internship Application [].

    Microsoft is an equal opportunity employer and supports workforce diversity.

    • "Microsoft...supports workforce diversity."

      Yeah, we keep you separate from anybody with a clue. Can't have you getting one.

      That's why we want PhDs with a proven track record of publication in top venues. Got forbid you've ever written a program for a real end user that has to do a real job.

      And no way we want anybody who knows what the words "antitrust" or "truth" means.
  • by pstreck ( 558593 ) * on Thursday November 03, 2005 @02:26PM (#13943577)
    After browsing the pdf this os looks very promising. It's implementing a lot of technologies that have to this point only been theorized or tested in very small scale environments. I personally applaud microsoft for taking this initiative on dependenability, for it is something that they have lacked focus on for the past 15 years or so. And i'm honestly kind of disgusted with general microsoft bashing in these comments. Judge technology by it's merits and pitfalls not by it's creators past acheivement, or personal disputes with it's creator. -- nuff said
  • by Skier4Life ( 655714 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @02:31PM (#13943638)
  • Yay, 1979 Again! (Score:4, Informative)

    by nate nice ( 672391 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @02:42PM (#13943804) Journal
    Have they ever heard of "Non-Stop"? You know, the Tandem kernel? These machines have 99.99% up-time. They don't perform great always but they are bullet proof....and essentially non-hacked because....well, they don't really make root-kits for these things.

    In case you never heard of them, they are a mainframe based computing system that is used heavily in stock markets, banks and ATM devices. Basically in places where up-time and reliability is rather important. I personally don't like programming on them too much (COBOL anyone!..language with no stack...just wrong) but it can be a fun learning experience. At least there is a program called "OSH" that emulates the bash shell, rather poorly I'll admit...but nice for a guy like me anyways.

    I guess a neat thing about Tandem, that also makes them awkward to use initially, is that they don't have a typical file structure. Everything is "Volumes" and you write all these "Servers"....just different. In the end, there is a one-to-one mapping of their file system to something most of us find traditional.
  • by Anonymous Writer ( 746272 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @03:37PM (#13944447)
    Isn't it used in Romulan Warbirds []?
  • Yawn (Score:5, Informative)

    by Salamander ( 33735 ) <jeff AT pl DOT atyp DOT us> on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:07PM (#13944757) Homepage Journal

    I already wrote about this four days ago [] so I won't repeat the whole thing here. Short version:

    • Microkernel design, single-address-space implementation: good
    • Extensive compile-time checking of code that eventually runs native (not interpreted/JIT): good
    • Checking protocol behavior as well as lower-level function contracts: great
    • No deadlock/livelock checking: ok for now (it's a hard problem)
    • No checking of responses to component failure: oops
    • Not even a mention of making it distributed: weird

    Even shorter version: lots of great ideas, lots of work still to be done. Anybody with a clue about operating systems should be following this with interest.

Systems programmers are the high priests of a low cult. -- R.S. Barton