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You are not expected to understand this - Arun Thomas on Unix Process Switching

"You are not expected to understand this." That is the now famous comment in UNIX v6's process switching (swtch) code. Process switching -- and multitasking more generally -- is a neat magic trick the OS pulls off. It's a delicate dance between the operating system and the hardware. We will dig into how this dance works on UNIX v6 and the PDP11, including the famous comment. We will also look into how the process switching magic happens on a more recent OS and CPU architecture (FreeBSD on x86). It should be a fun trip down the rabbit hole of operating system kernels internals and instruction set specifications

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  • Arun T.

    Howdy Kartik,

    Yup, it's the very same Arun. I'd love to hear the story. This is a practice run for a Systems We Love talk, and I'd appreciate any and all feedback. The talk is definitely a work-in-progress. I apologize in advance for alpha testing the talk on unsuspecting PWL attendees.


    4 days ago

  • Kartik S.

    Great topic, I was reading Lions' Commentary last Spring while taking the OS class and our Professor told an interesting story behind this quote. Will be happy to share here as long as it is not a spoiler for Arun's talk (Presuming he is the same Arun that I know from BAE).

    November 25

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