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Experience with Charlotte: Simplicity and Function in a Distributed Operating System
June 1989 (vol. 15 no. 6)
pp. 676-685

A retrospective view is presented of the Charlotte distributed operating system, a testbed for developing techniques and tools to solve computation-intensive problems with large-grain parallelism. The final version of Charlotte runs on the Crystal multicomputer, a collection of VAX-11/750 computers connected by a local area network. The kernel/process interface is unique in its support for symmetric, bi-directional communication paths (called links), and synchronous nonblocking communications. Several lessons were learned in implementing Charlotte. Links have proven to be a useful abstraction, but the primitives do not seem to be at quite the right level of abstraction. The implementation uses finite-state machines and a multitask kernel, both of which work well. It also maintains absolute distributed information which is more expensive that using hints. The development of high-level tools, particularly the Lynx distributed programming language, has simplified the use of kernal primitives and helps to manage concurrency at the process level.

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Index Terms:
Charlotte distributed operating system; computation-intensive problems; large-grain parallelism; Crystal multicomputer; VAX-11/750 computers; local area network; kernel/process interface; bidirectional communication paths; synchronous nonblocking communications; abstraction; finite-state machines; multitask kernel; absolute distributed information; high-level tools; Lynx distributed programming language; kernal primitives; concurrency; computer communications software; local area networks; multiprocessing programs; operating systems (computers); software packages
Citation:
R.A. Finkel, M.L. Scott, Y. Artsy, H.-Y. Chang, "Experience with Charlotte: Simplicity and Function in a Distributed Operating System," IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, vol. 15, no. 6, pp. 676-685, June 1989, doi:10.1109/32.24721
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