MinWin

Posted on April 8, 2008. Filed under: Computers |

A minimalistic variation of the Windows kernel, known as MinWin, is being developed for use in Windows 7. The MinWin development efforts are aimed towards componentizing the Windows kernel and reducing the dependencies with a view to carving out the minimal set of components required to build a self-contained kernel as well as reducing the disk footprint and memory usage. MinWin takes up about 25 MB on disk and has a working set (memory usage) of 40 MB. It lacks a graphical user interface and is interfaced using a full-screen command line interface. It includes the I/O and networking subsystems. MinWin was first publicly demonstrated on October 13, 2007 by Eric Traut. The demo system included an OS image, made up of about 100 files, on which a basic HTTP server was running.

Incidentally, the name MinWin was also used earlier to refer to what is currently known as Server Core in Windows Server 2008. However, the two are quite different. While both efforts are to consolidate and componentize the core of Windows, with server core, the functionality of the OS is constrained according to server roles, and unneeded components (which will never be used as the role isn’t supported) are removed from the binary image. However, the dependencies still exist in code, and the code cannot compile without the components. In contrast, with MinWin, the dependencies are consolidated into MinWin and what is not needed is removed at the code level itself. As a result, the code compiles even without any extraneous components and builds a stripped-down self-contained OS kernel image.

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