Sam Williams

Language Runtime Operating Systems: the Past, Present, and Future

PhD Student

Language Runtime Operating Systems: the Past, Present, and Future

Since the days of the LISP machines, computer scientists and programmers have been attracted to the idea of building operating systems in high level (often interpreted) languages. In this talk Sam will trace the history and development of this concept from its inception to the present day. He will consider why such systems might be valuable, explore their implementation, and how they might be deployed in the future. He will use the example of HydrOS, a novel and massively fault tolerant operating system written in Erlang, to illustrate these concepts.

The talk will also include a number of live demonstrations that elucidate the power that this approach to OS design can provide. Some of the demos will involve deliberately invoking catastrophic kernel or operating system faults, and recovering from them while user program execution continues unharmed.

Talk objectives:

  • To unearth the narrative of the development of language runtime operating systems, consider how they fit into the present computing climate, and how they might be used in the future!

Target audience:

  • Anyone interested in virtual machines, operating systems, or the quirkier side of computing history.

About Sam

Sam Williams is a PhD student building a scalable and fault tolerant operating system in Erlang. This builds on his undergraduate dissertation project, in which he created a 'BEAM on bare-metal' OS targeting the Xen hypervisor. This project differed from ErlangOnXen in that it was a direct port of the BEAM, rather than using the Ling VM. Aside from Sam's OS work, he has been building web applications with Erlang, YAWS, and a web framework for around 6 years. When Sam is not programming he enjoys walking and climbing!

Github: samcamwilliams

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