Minix 3 and the microkernel experience
Minix Firewall Project
Packet filters are an endangered system component. Despite the excellent quality of the Linux Netfilter implementation, a number of security issues have surfaced in the past. If a subsystem of this kind is running on the Linux kernel, it will endanger system security. Building on work by the Tanenbaum group, the Technical University of Applied Science Berlin ported the widespread Netfilter framework to Minix 3 .
Here again, the stability of the microkernel architecture delivers additional benefits. In Linux, an attacker who succeeds in provoking a crash – for example, by exploiting a buffer overflow in the do_replace() function – can bring a Linux firewall to its knees. In Minix 3, a single user process could crash without compromising system security. The reincarnation server would simply restart the process.
The differences become even more apparent if an attacker succeeds in executing code. In Minix, a hijacked user process is still a problem, but the effect is far less serious thanks to isolation.
Even Microsoft is exploring their own microkernel system, named Singularity . Although Minix has played the microkernel game for many years now, its biggest obstacle to becoming more widespread has always been its non-free license. Now that Minix 3 is released under the BSD open source license and the firewall extensions are available under the GPL . Researchers at the TFH Berlin are also working on exploring Minix's potential as a virtualized firewall. Stability, a small footprint, and a new licensing model give Minix 3 a strong potential for growth, especially in embedded systems.
- Tanenbaum, Andrew S., "Some Notes on the 'Who wrote Linux' Kerfuffle, Release 1.5," 2004, http://www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/brown/
- Minix Project: http://www.minix3.org
- Torvalds, Linus, and David Diamond. Just for Fun. HarperBusiness, 2001
- Tanenbaum, Andrew S., and Albert S. Woodhull. The Minix Book: Operating System Design and Implementation. Prentice-Hall, 2006
- Weis, Rüdiger, "Linux is obsolete 2.0," presented at Chaos Communication Camp 2007, http://public.tfh-berlin.de/~rweis/vorlesungen/ComputerSicherheit/WeisLinuxIsObsolete2.pdf
- Microsoft Singularity: http://www.codeplex.com/singularity
- Minixwall: http://wiki.tfh-berlin.de/~minixwall
Buy this article as PDF
But if you are not using the latest Linux kernel, your system is insecure.
Home routers will give room for custom firmware but still comply with FCC rules
Frank Karlitschek will continue to lead the open source ownCloud project
“Xenial Xerus” comes with a new packages format and several improvements for the enterprise.
Linux users can now download and install the Windows code editor
New initiative will address security and interoperability concerns around container technology.
Developers can use RHEL as a development platform without a subscription fee.
Windows users will soon have native access to the Bash shell.
Improvements to SMTP will provide better guarantee of confidentiality
Graphics vendor embraces new reality in Linux graphics