FlexOS:towards flexible OS isolation

Lefeuvre, Hugo and Bădoiu, Vlad-Andrei and Jung, Alexander and Teodorescu, Stefan Lucian and Rauch, Sebastian and Huici, Felipe and Raiciu, Costin and Olivier, Pierre (2022) FlexOS:towards flexible OS isolation. In: ASPLOS 2022 - Proceedings of the 27th ACM International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems. International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems - ASPLOS . ACM, New York, pp. 467-482. ISBN 9781450392051

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At design time, modern operating systems are locked in a specific safety and isolation strategy that mixes one or more hardware/software protection mechanisms (e.g. user/kernel separation); revisiting these choices after deployment requires a major refactoring effort. This rigid approach shows its limits given the wide variety of modern applications' safety/performance requirements, when new hardware isolation mechanisms are rolled out, or when existing ones break. We present FlexOS, a novel OS allowing users to easily specialize the safety and isolation strategy of an OS at compilation/deployment time instead of design time. This modular LibOS is composed of fine-grained components that can be isolated via a range of hardware protection mechanisms with various data sharing strategies and additional software hardening. The OS ships with an exploration technique helping the user navigate the vast safety/performance design space it unlocks. We implement a prototype of the system and demonstrate, for several applications (Redis/Nginx/SQLite), FlexOS' vast configuration space as well as the efficiency of the exploration technique: we evaluate 80 FlexOS configurations for Redis and show how that space can be probabilistically subset to the 5 safest ones under a given performance budget. We also show that, under equivalent configurations, FlexOS performs similarly or better than existing solutions which use fixed safety configurations.

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25 Nov 2022 11:30
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25 Nov 2022 11:30