Distributed operating systems (OSs) are a type of network operating system (NOS). NOSs exist mostly or fully for, their main reason for being, is to facilitate networking, between two or more computers, to operate and improve networks, with non-trivial networking (e.g., routing) included and/or built in, which need not be added later, and they make little sense without their network functions. Many OSs have some networking ability, but not all such OSs are NOSs. Distributed OSs go beyond most NOSs, to divide, distribute, and even dynamically migrate tasks and information, to operate, over networks to run on two or more processors, often called clustering, and heterogeneous multiprocessing. By definition, distributed OSs are multiprocessor OSs, usually asymmetric. On this page, OSs are arranged in two groups and levels: 1) Top group: OSs for which there are more than one instance of an OS of this name/type, an OS family. 2) Bottom group: specific OSs, individual instances; there is only one OS of this name/type.
  • AgentOS Mobile agent system for ubiquitous computing; new way to cope with the wide-area, large-scale ubiquitous computing environment of near future. Allows access to personal and collaborative computing services anywhere, via varied desktop and mobile computing devices.
  • AtomsNet Modular object-oriented application to index files across networks. Has plug-in type data retrieval system, webserver, peer-to-peer connections for network-wide information gathering, retrieval; has features of OSs, database management systems, distributed networking. Open Source, GPL.
  • E1 A distributed operating system based on the concepts of object replication, component model support and persistence. It consists of a L4 microkernel and a set of distributed objects acting at the user level. [Open source]
  • GLUnix Global Layer Unix; technology trends in high-speed, low-latency LANs suggest convergence of hardware in Massively Parallel Processors, MPPs, and Networks of Workstations, NOWs. Relative to many MPPs, NOWs offer more cost-effectiveness and scalability, and less hardware and software development time. Soon, the main difference between NOWs and MPPs will be OS software.
  • Hurricane hierarchically clustered OS implemented on Hector multiprocessor; manages system resources in clusters, using tight coupling within clusters, loose coupling across clusters. Succeeded by Tornado.
  • MIT LCS PDOS Parallel and Distributed Operating Systems Group; research focus: extensible and flexible system services: filesystems, networking, languages. Projects: 'C, Chord, Click, Exokernel (Exopc), Grid, Prolac, RON, and SFS. Funding: DARPA, NSF; AT&T, IBM, Intel. Many open source downloads.
  • MOSIX Software package to enhance Unix kernels (7 so far) and Linux with cluster computing abilities. Lets any size cluster of x86-based workstations and servers work cooperatively as if part of one system. [Open Source, GPL]
  • MOSIX Clusters of Surplus Computers for Providing Common Network Services and Applications Details active project to illustrate use of MOSIX to create clusters of surplus machines that can be used to provide network services, application resources.
  • Quarks Simple, yet efficient distributed shared memory (DSM) system; a user-level library plus header files supports DSM on groups of Unix workstations. Runs on 4.3BSD/M68k, HP-UX/PA-RISC, IRIX 5.2/MIPS, SunOS 4.1/SPARC. [Open Source, public domain]
  • SUMO Support for Multimedia in Operating systems, Lancaster University: microkernel OS with facilities to support distributed realtime and multimedia applications and ODP-based multimedia distributed application platforms.
  • The V Distributed System Research OS for a cluster of computer workstations connected by fast network; structured as a small distributed kernel, and set of service modules, runtime libraries, and commands. Stanford University.
  • Tornado Object-oriented operating system for large-scale shared-memory multiprocessors. Minimizes data sharing via careful design: often eliminates data sharing even when sharing appears natural. Successor to Hurricane.
  • V Operating System Growing article, with links to many related topics. Wikipedia.
  • WebOS Gives distributed OS services needed to build applications that are wide-area, highly available, incrementally scalable, dynamically reconfiguring, with mechanisms for: resource discovery, global namespace, remote process execution, resource management, authentication, security.
  • YouOS Allows running diverse programs in web browser, integrated program development and management, based on HTML and JavaScript. Descriptions, FAQ, weblog, forum, developer support, tutorial, policy, contacts. Open source.

Media publications

  • The Brave New OS of the Future Brief, simple layman's treatment of Carnegie Mellon University Odyssey project; IBM Research's Autonomic Computing initiative; Microsoft Farsite project. [CNN.com] (Published 2002-02-13 00:00:00)

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