Zack's Kernel News

Zack's Kernel News

Article from Issue 248/2021

Chronicler Zack Brown reports on want vs. need, and hiding system resources ... from the system.

Want vs. Need

Ryan Houdek wanted to enhance compatibility layers in Linux. A compatibility layer is used when you have a piece of software that was compiled to run on a different system, and you want it to run on yours. Maybe the software expects a certain system file to exist, or certain opcodes at the CPU level, or certain system calls. A compatibility layer will provide those things so the software can run. A lot of cloud service companies like Google and Amazon use Linux's compatibility layers to make one piece of hardware look like a whole bunch of other pieces of hardware.

So compatibility layers are not new in Linux, but Ryan wanted to run old software compiled for 32-bit CPUs on 64-bit systems and offered up a general justification for compatibility layers. One of his main points was that "Not all software is open source or easy to convert to 64-bit," and that a lot of gaming software fell into this category.

Ryan pointed to various attempts in the Linux world to work around these problems, such as Qemu, a generic CPU emulator. But the problem with such attempts, he said, was not emulating the CPU, it was emulating various system resources such as memory handling and input/output controls.


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