[erlang-questions] Erlang on RumpRun Unikernel

Radoslaw Gruchalski radek@REDACTED
Tue May 24 20:48:50 CEST 2016

And what would you do with the old server?
Put in the box on a shelf?

Horizontal scalability is a thing.
Best regards,

Radek Gruchalski


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On May 24, 2016 at 8:45:44 PM, Grzegorz Junka (list1@REDACTED) 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.


On 24/05/2016 15:15, Neeraj Sharma wrote:

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,

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