[erlang-questions] Erlang on RumpRun Unikernel

Eric Merritt <>
Tue May 24 22:38:44 CEST 2016


Comparing this to erlangonxen is really comparing apples and oranges.
Erlangonxen is not the erlang system as put out by Ericsson running on
xen. Its a one-man reimplementation of the beam interpreter running on
xen. Whether that is good or bad is an open question, but you can' t
really compare it to what Neeraj is doing, which is the actual erlang
system running as a microkernel.

As to why a company would want it: Everything running on a server that
isn't required by the service it is running is an opportunity for
either failure or additional surface area to attack. If I can run,
just my erlang service and nothing else but what it depends on
directly and indirectly, that is a huge win for me.


On Tue, May 24, 2016 at 11:45 AM, Grzegorz Junka <> wrote:
> Sorry for my ignorance, how does it differ from http://erlangonxen.org/
> (apart from its ability to run on bare metal without Xen)? Does rumprun
> support ARM processors/boards?
>
> IMHO both projects (Erlang on Xen / rumprun) suffer from a similar problem
> as IoT. They look great on paper as technologies, but it's hard to find an
> application in which they would be useful. They might be just waiting for
> that great idea which will allow them to break through and blow your mind.
>
> I could imagine an application which scales nearly linearly with the amount
> of nodes you allow it to use. When the capacity or speed needs to be
> increased, you just provision new nodes, each one a simple ARM module
> running Erlang, and you add it to the cluster. The application then uses the
> new node and distributes a bit of the running load to it.
>
> It's not impossible from a technical point of view but it's hard to imagine
> why a company would want to do that instead of moving the system to a new
> server with more CPU/RAM. In any case it's great that such an option exists
> and we can use it to try things. Anyway, thanks for bringing it up, I
> wouldn't have known Rumprun otherwise.
>
> Grzegorz
>
>
> On 24/05/2016 15:15, Neeraj Sharma wrote:
>
> Hi,
>
> I did an initial port of Erlang on the RumpRun unikernel
> (https://github.com/rumpkernel/rumprun-packages/tree/master/erlang) in
> September last year. While the experience was enthralling, there were after
> thoughts which remained unanswered. I wonder what Erlang experts think
> regarding running Erlang on unikernel. RumpRun unikernel is an great project
> which (in my view) opened possibilities to design in some unique ways while
> shifting aware from the traditional operation system based design. There are
> some nuances like multi-threading instead of providing multi-process (no
> fork), but I Erlang does play nice (at least for the most part) with it.
> Needless to say the energy spent and my lack of understand on Erlang
> internals ensured that the project is suited for pet projects rather than
> production (or any serious use).
>
> My choice Erlang is a bit biased primarily it being my first experience to
> functional programming language and a long history of working in the
> telecommunications industry (though not using Erlang in production as much
> I'd wanted to). The language is awesome for many use cases though this email
> is primarily looking at its play with unikernels. The language blew me away
> with the ease and core language features for meeting complex requirements
> like (though not limited to) scalablity, availability and soft-real time
> behavior (not to mention the VMs capability to magically load the system
> resources evenly) which takes a lot of effort in implementing in traditional
> programming languages.
>
> My initial motivation to attempt the port was to look at role of Erlang
> (which pretty much does most of stuff a traditional OS+utils would provide
> to regular applications) in microservices architecture. In my opinion the
> choice of RumpRun unikernel makes a lot of sense in this respect rather than
> rely on traditional operating system architecture. Having said that, I would
> like to hear opinions from Erlang experts as to whether the marriage of
> Erlang with Unikernel has a bright future :)
>
>
> Thanks for your time,
> Neeraj
>
>
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