Optimizing Boot Times and Enhancing Binary Compatibility for Unikernels

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Virginia Tech


Unikernels are lightweight, single-purpose virtual machines designed for the cloud. They provide enhanced security, minimal resource utilisation, fast boot times, and the ability to optimize performance for the target application. Despite their numerous advantages, unikernels face significant barriers to their widespread adoption. We identify two such obstacles as unscalable boot procedures in hypervisors and the difficulty in porting native applications to unikernel models. This work presents a solution for the first based on the popular Xen hypervisor, and demonstrates a significant performance benefit when running a large number of guest VMs. The HermiTux unikernel aims to overcome the second obstacle by providing the ability to run unmodified binaries as unikernels. This work adds to HermiTux, enabling it to retain some of the important advantages of unikernels such as fast system calls and modularity.



Virtualization, Unikernel, Hypervisor