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Unikernels are a special type of operating system kernel similar to rump-kernels. However, unikernels are more lightweight than rumpkernels or microkernels. Unikernels are composed of kernel libraries and the application (or applications) that is desired. Because unikernels are so simplistic, they are very secure and fast.
Unikernels have multiple advantages. The two primary benefits include security and performance. Due to the small size, the boot-up time is significantly faster than other kernel designs. The memory usage is also very low. As for security, since there is not much software, then there is not much for malware to attack.
Another benefit is the ease of maintenance due to the small code-base. The unikernel is the size of the typical software library.
A variety of unikernels are available including open-source unikernels. In addition, POSIX and Linux compliant unikernels are available. Some unikernels run on the bare-metal hardware and some run on top of KVM, Xen, or some other hypervisor. Some examples of specific unikernels include
- Clive - written in GoLang
- Graphene - Linux compatible; https://github.com/oscarlab/graphene
- HaLVM (Haskell Lightweight Virtual Machine) - https://galois.com/project/halvm/
- IncludeOS - Written in C++; http://www.includeos.org/
- OSv - https://github.com/cloudius-systems/osv
- Rumprun - POSIX compatible; https://github.com/rumpkernel/rumprun
- Runtime.js - http://runtimejs.org/
- Anykernel - http://dcjtech.info/topic/anykernel-another-kernel-structure/
- Exokernel - http://dcjtech.info/topic/about-exokernels/
- Hybrid Kernels - http://dcjtech.info/topic/quick-explanation-of-hybrid-kernel/
- Microkernels – http://dcjtech.info/topic/about-microkernels/
- Minix Kernel (Essay) - http://dcjtech.info/topic/the-minix-kernel-essay/
- Monolithic Kernels – http://dcjtech.info/topic/a-brief-explanation-of-monolithic-kernels/
- Very Specialized Kernels - http://dcjtech.info/topic/very-specialized-kernels/
- General OS Article Index - http://dcjtech.info/topic/general-operating-system-concepts/