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Bringing the World Reboot-Less ­pdates

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Ksplice software applies patches to an operating system without the need to reboot.

The Ksplice software compares changes between old and updated code, and implements the changes into a running Linux kernel, without the need for programmer intervention.

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In 2008, a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers began developing Ksplice, software that automatically applies patches to an operating system without having to reboot.

Ksplice compares changes between the old and updated code and implements the changes into a running Linux kernel. The software also removes the need for programmer intervention with the code, which decreases the cost and risk of error, says Jeff Arnold, who led the research, which eventually became a commercial product. "The aim is to allow administrators the benefit of the update while eliminating both the cost and downtime for the users," Arnold says.

Ksplice constructs hot patches using the object code with pre-post differencing, which creates object code before a patch and object code are modified by the patch on the fly. Ksplice also uses a technique called run-pre matching, which computes the address in computer memory of ambiguous code by using custom computation to compare the "pre" code with the finalized, running kernel.

"Something that was key to our success was we had a good network of mentors and advisors, and many were part of the MIT community," Arnold says.

Ksplice has only ever run on Linux systems, but its developers say it could be ported to other operating systems.

From MIT News
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