Practical dynamic software updating for C

Iulian Neamtiu, Michael Hicks, Gareth Stoyle, Manuel Oriol

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

105 Scopus citations

Abstract

Software updates typically require stopping and restarting an application, but many systems cannot afford to halt service, or would prefer not to. Dynamic software updating (DSU) addresses this difficulty by permitting programs to be updated while they run. DSU is appealing compared to other approaches for on-line upgrades because it is quite general and requires no redundant hardware. The challenge is in making DSU practical: it should be flexible, and yet safe, efficient, and easy to use. In this paper, we present Ginseng, a DSU implementation for C that aims to meet this challenge. We compile programs specially so that they can be dynamically patched, and generate most of a dynamic patch automatically. Ginseng performs a series of analyses that when combined with some simple runtime support ensure that an update will not violate type-safety while guaranteeing that data is kept up-to-date. We have used Ginseng to construct and dynamically apply patches to three substantial open-source server programs - Very Secure FTP daemon, OpenSSH sshd daemon, and GNU Zebra. In total, we dynamically patched each program with three years' worth of releases. Though the programs changed substantially, the majority of updates were easy to generate. Performance experiments show that all patches could be applied in less than 5 ms, and that the overhead on application throughput due to updating support ranged from 0 to at most 32%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPLDI 2006 - Proceedings of the 2006 ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation
Pages72-83
Number of pages12
DOIs
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes
EventPLDI 2006 - 2006 ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation - Ottawa, ON, Canada
Duration: Jun 10 2006Jun 16 2006

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI)
Volume2006

Other

OtherPLDI 2006 - 2006 ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation
CountryCanada
CityOttawa, ON
Period6/10/066/16/06

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software

Keywords

  • Dynamic software updating
  • Function indirection
  • Loop extraction
  • Type wrapping

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