next up previous
Next: Introduction

The Box: A Replacement for Files
$\copyright$ 1999 IEEE. To appear in Proc. of the IEEE HotOS-VII.

Francisco J. Ballesteros1
Carlos III University of Madrid
nemo@gsyc.escet.urjc.es
- Sergio Arévalo2
Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid
s.arevalo@escet.urjc.es

Abstract:

The file is a well-understood and very simple abstraction, which has been successfully used in both centralized and distributed systems. However, files are not expressive enough to capture high-level data semantics and relationships, including sharing and data dependencies. How many times has your operating system translated a JPEG figure into postscript, automatically when needed? How do files help applications to deal with heterogeneity? Moreover, optimization opportunities are lost due to the low-level nature of read and write; e.g. in NFS data is sent twice through the network when copying a remote file within the same file server. We feel that a better abstraction is needed and propose an alternate abstraction, the ``box'', to solve the problems mentioned above. Boxes, while being as simple as files, are more expressive. We intend to use boxes as a central abstraction for a distributed adaptable operating system we are building.



 
next up previous
Next: Introduction

1999-02-26