Unix System Laboratories and Chorus Systems Inc are developing a microkernel version of the Unix System V Release 4 (Unix SVR4) operating system. Unisys Corp will also provide technology for the product. The companies plan to release the version fully in 1st qtr 1995 and to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in 1st qtr 1994. The microkernel will be a basic version of SVR4. A microkernel is more scalable and is better for developing parallel and distributed client/server applications. A microkernel also enables vendors to lower costs and bring products to market more quickly. Chorus' contribution to the product is the MiX V.4 operating system, on which the product is based. Unisys' contribution is its single-system image technology that allows users to view distributed servers as one.
The Open Software Foundation is not the only vendor that plans to provide OEMs and users with a microkernel implementation of the Unix operating system.
This week, Unix System Laboratories Inc., of Summit, N.J., and Chorus Systems Inc., of Beaverton, Ore., will outline plans for a microkernel release of Unix SVR4 (System V release 4). Unisys Corp., of Blue Bell, Pa., is also providing technology for the microkernel. The microkernel implementation of System V release 4 will be available to OEM partners during the first quarter of 1994, although general availability isn't expected until the first quarter of 1995.
The Unix System V microkernel offers a stripped-down version of SVR4, which provides system services separately from the core. Because of its structure, a microkernel is more scalable and better suited for developing distributed client/server and parallel applications.
"The main benefit of a microkernel is that it lets vendors have lower costs and quicker time to market," said Nina Lytton, editor of the Boston-based Open Systems Advisor newsletter.
Officials from USL and Chorus emphasized the distributed, multiserver nature of the System V microkernel, which is based on Chorus' Chorus/MiX V.4 operating system.
Unisys provided its single-system image technology, which permits users and developers to view distributed servers as if they were a single system, allowing applications to be distributed seamlessly across a network, sources said.
"Some of these architecture improvements won't be seen immediately by end users," said Chorus President Will Neuhauser. "But the microkernel will make it faster, cheaper and easier for [OEMs] to incorporate new features in the enterprise."
Chorus and USL stressed the microkernel will enable users to better integrate Novell Inc.'s NetWare and various Microsoft Corp. Windows emulation products into a Unix environment.
"The microkernel provides a well-defined, higher-level interface to the Unix operating system," Neuhauser said. "You won't need to integrate your apps into Unix itself. The points where you need to make changes will be more limited."
USL, a subsidiary of Novell, was founded in 1991. Chorus, a privately held company with 60 employees, was founded in 1990.
Unisys, a publicly traded company founded in 1986, employs about 50,000 people worldwide.