employed system call emulation to allow binaries from one operating system run on another on the same instruction set architecture • Combines the binary footprint of the emulated system with the operational advantages of the emulating system • Sun ﬁrst did this with SunOS 4.x binaries on Solaris 2.x • With Solaris x86, it became possible to run binaries targeted for Linux via SCO’s (open source) “lxrun” • Packaging innovation in Linux in early 2000s + deeply differentiated technologies in Solaris 10 (e.g. ZFS, DTrace, zones) made Linux emulation more attractive
became more complicated: programs became more complicated than single-process binaries • Clear that “lxrun” would only work for applications, not systems — needed a deeper solution • Fortunately, coincided with the rise of operating system virtualization embodied by zones • Idea: introduce notion of a branded zone whereby an entire foreign system (a brand) could be emulated within the conﬁnes of a zone
included Nils Nieuwejaar and Russ Blaine integrated BrandZ, a Linux branded zone (PSARC 2005/471) • Support was a user/kernel hybrid: lx system calls bounced back to a user-level emulation library that depended on some in-kernel emulation (e.g. futexes) • Support was for RHEL 3 (!): glibc 2.3.2 + Linux 2.4 • Remarkable amount of work was done to handle device pathing, signal handling, /proc — and arcana like TTY ioctls, ptrace, etc. • Worked for a surprising number of binaries!
• Support for 2.6 required adding new, Linux-only mechanisms that had native analogues (e.g., epoll) • Only 32-bit was supported • XVM (the Xen-on-Solaris effort inside of Sun) had much more managerial support and was thought to be a “more supportable” solution
to support htop, a colorful Linux program for system process monitoring • htop is very, very speciﬁc to Linux /proc — and porting it to use illumos /proc seemed arduous and pointless… • ...but a relatively complete Linux /proc had integrated with the LX brand! • In April 2012, the /proc portion of the LX brand was extracted, cleaned up, and separately integrated • Mounted at /system/lxproc in SmartOS zones; htop modiﬁed to look for this path on illumos
member, announced that he was able to resurrect the lx brand —and that it appeared to work! Linked below is a webrev which restores LX branded zones support to Illumos: http://cr.illumos.org/~webrev/DavidJX8P/lx-zones-restoration/ I have been running OpenIndiana, using it daily on my workstation for over a month with the above webrev applied to the illumos-gate and built by myself. It would definitely raise interest in Illumos. Indeed, I have seen many people who are extremely interested in LX zones. The LX zones code is minimally invasive on Illumos itself, and is mostly segregated out. I hope you find this of interest.
rethink LX-branded zones... • It seemed that the reasons for the discontinuation of LX brand support might not still be valid... • ...and it seemed that the engineering challenges might not be as structurally daunting
more slowly: pace of development of new user-visible kernel abstraction has slowed • Torvalds discovered religion on ABI compatibility • The need to run on older kernels has dissuaded software from using the more obscure Linux-isms • The glibc/kernel disconnect means that glibc (and apps!) must reasonably be able to process ENOSYS • Easier support model: the rise of the cloud has replaced shrink-wrapped software with open source + SaaS • Server focus: Mac OS X gave us Unix — and relegated “Linux on the desktop” to “Duke Nukem Forever” status
bringing Linux applications into established Solaris environments for purposes of hardware consolidation • Port of KVM to illumos circa 2011 solved this problem • ...but KVM has unresolvable performance and resource limitations, and Linux on KVM only gets indirect beneﬁt from ZFS, DTrace and zones • At the same time, enthusiasm for containers and OS- based virtualization have blossomed (ht: Docker) • There seems to be desire for a best-of-all worlds system that combines Linux strengths (binary footprint) with illumos technical differentiators (ZFS, zones, DTrace)
have decomposed, Joyent engineer Jerry Jelinek exhumed the LX brand and reintegrated it into SmartOS on March 20, 2014 • Guiding principles: • Do it all in the open • Do it all on SmartOS master (illumos-joyent) • Add base illumos facilities wherever possible • Aim to upstream to illumos when we’re done • Thanks to Jerry grinding out many, many LX bug ﬁxes, got Ubuntu 10.04 booting in April, Ubuntu 12.04 booting in May and Ubuntu 14.04 booting in July
bugs (ht: LTP) • Added native epoll(5) — though not in terms of event ports but rather in terms of poll(7D) • Added exclusive IP stacks for LX-branded zones • Added support for netlink (RFC 3549) — but restricted that support to the lx brand • Added support for thunk-less native binaries within an LX branded zone • Added native inotify(5) • Added initial 64-bit support
ﬁrst step is to get SmartOS running • We have a 32-bit Ubuntu 14.04 image that can be used to create a zone via vmadm: b7493690-f019-4612-958b-bab5f844283e • Will need to conﬁgure a VM with “kernel-version” set to 3.13.0 and “brand” to “lx” in the vmadm JSON payload • If you ﬁnd that something is boken, create an issue on the illumos-joyent github repo • Once 64-bit is working, we will be very actively seeking community engagement; stay tuned!
remarkable amount of work: Nils Nieuwejaar and Russ Blaine • The illumos community — especially David Mackay! — for inspiring the revival • Jerry Jelinek for leading the charge — and doing the vast majority of the work! • @rmustacc for thunk-less native binary support • @jmclulow for stack switching • @djhoffma for his work on ptrace • @joshwilsdon for vmadm support for LX brands