How Microsoft brought SQL Server to Linux

SQL Server on Linux - SeniorDBA

In this interesting post about SQL Server on Linux, we learn about how Microsoft brought about the changes required to make their premier database software run on Linux. In this article by Peter bright, we get the details of how a Microsoft Research project and changes in SQL Server 2005 made the transition possible.

The decision to go ahead with SQL Server for Linux was made about 18 months ago. The question then became, how to do it?

It was seen as essential that SQL Server on Linux have identical semantics and performance to SQL Server on Windows, right down to the level of database file compatibility. This would be very difficult to do if the software were forked to have two separate versions each with their own approach to file I/O, memory management, threading, and so on.

But SQL Server is a large application, and although its interactions with Windows are relatively narrow—things like the graphical management tools are remaining Windows-only, at least for the time being, so a large part of the Windows API surface is avoided—it still uses about 1,500 Win32 API calls. Supporting all of these on Linux would be a major undertaking.

Drawbridge runs an almost complete operating system within a process.
Drawbridge runs an almost complete operating system within a process.

The first piece of the puzzle was a Microsoft Research Project that was completed in 2011 called Drawbridge. The Drawbridge project explored a new approach to process virtualization and isolation with two major elements: a picoprocess, which is a lightweight process that has access to a small number of about 50 low-level kernel features, and a Library OS (LibOS), which is a modified operating system stack designed to run within a picoprocess.

An application and LibOS run within the picoprocess together, with LibOS providing all the operating system-like functionality that the application depends on, such as threading, virtual memory management, and a full set of file I/O features. LibOS talks to the underlying kernel using those 50 or so API calls.

You can read the entire article here.


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