Unikernels leverage library OS architectures to run isolated workloads on the cloud. They have garnered attention in part due to their promised performance characteristics such as small image size, fast boot time, low memory footprint and application performance. However, those that aimed at generality fall short of the application compatibility, robustness and, more importantly, community that is available for Linux. In this paper, we describe and evaluate Lupine Linux, a standard Linux system that—through kernel configuration specialization and system call overhead elimination—achieves unikernel-like performance, in fact outperforming at least one reference unikernel in all of the above dimensions. At the same time, Lupine can run any application (since it is Linux) when faced with more general workloads, whereas many unikernels simply crash. We demonstrate a graceful degradation of unikernel-like performance properties.
This project is supported by a grant from the Office of Naval Reserach (ONR). This project is also supported by C3SR IBM research center.