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Distributed Operating Systems

Amdahl's law
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Amdahl's law, also known as Amdahl's argument,[1] is named after computer architect Gene
Amdahl, and is used to find the maximum expected improvement to an overall system when
only part of the system is improved. It is often used in parallel computing to predict the
theoretical maximum speedup using multiple processors.

The speedup of a program using multiple processors in parallel computing is limited by the
time needed for the sequential fraction of the program. For example, if a program needs 20
hours using a single processor core, and a particular portion of 1 hour cannot be parallelized,
while the remaining promising portion of 19 hours (95%) can be parallelized, then regardless
of how many processors we devote to a parallelized execution of this program, the minimum
execution time cannot be less than that critical 1 hour. Hence the speed up is limited up to
20×, as the diagram illustrates.

The speedup of a program using multiple processors in parallel computing is limited by the
sequential fraction of the program. For example, if 95% of the program can be parallelized,
the theoretical maximum speedup using parallel computing would be 20× as shown in the
diagram, no matter how many processors are used.


Scalability indicates the capability of a system to increase performance under an
increased load when resources (typically hardware) are added. Wikipedia

• A computer system (HW + SW) is called scalable if it can scale up (improve

its resources) to accommodate ever increasing performance and functionality
demand and / or scale down (decrease resources) to reduce cost. -- Wang, Xu 98

A system is scalable
if it works well for very large and very small numbers

Partitioning is a process of split systems into parts that can operate
independently to a large extent.

The process of creating and managing duplicate versions of a database. Replication not only
copies a database but also synchronizes a set of replicas so that changes made to one replica
are reflected in all the others. The beauty of replication is that it enables many users to work
with their own local copy of a database but have the database updated as if they were working
on a single, centralized database. For database applications where users are geographically
widely distributed, replication is often the most efficient method of database access.

The Lotus Notes system was one of the first to make replication a central component of its
design, which has been one of the main reasons for its success.

Replication (pronounced rehp-lih-KA-shun) is the process of making a replica (a copy) of

something. A replication (noun) is a copy. The term is used in fields as varied as
microbiology (cell replication), knitwear (replication of knitting patterns), and information
distribution (CD-ROM replication).

On the Internet, a Web site that has been replicated in its entirety and put on another site is
called a mirror site.

Replication (computer science)

Replication is the process of sharing information so as to ensure consistency between
redundant resources, such as software or hardware components, to improve reliability, fault-
tolerance, or accessibility. It could be data replication if the same data is stored on multiple
storage devices, or computation replication if the same computing task is executed many
times. A computational task is typically replicated in space, i.e. executed on separate devices,
or it could be replicated in time, if it is executed repeatedly on a single device.
Load balancing is different from task replication, since it distributes a load of different (not
the same) computations across machines, and allows a single computation to be dropped in
case of failure. Load balancing, however, sometimes uses data replication (esp. multi-master)
internally, to distribute its data among machines.

Backup is different from replication, since it saves a copy of data unchanged for a long period
of time. Replicas on the other hand are frequently updated and quickly lose any historical

• Fault tolerance
• Locality of queries -> shorten interpretation route
• Load Balancing – especially for higher levels which receive many queries

In computer science, a cache is a collection of data duplicating original values stored
elsewhere or computed earlier, where the original data is expensive to fetch (owing to longer
access time) or to compute, compared to the cost of reading the cache.

In other words, a cache is a temporary storage area where frequently accessed data can be
stored for rapid access. Once the data is stored in the cache, it can be used in the future by
accessing the cached copy rather than re-fetching or recomputing the original data.

What is Caching?
When you view a website for the first time your browser downloads all the various page
elements (images, text, style sheets etc.) to your desktop computer's hard drive. This is your
local 'cached copy' of the web page. The next time you visit the site your browser first looks
in the cache and displays the local copy rather than going to the bother of downloading it all

This makes web browsing much quicker; for example, if you press your 'back' button to a
page you just visited it will appear almost instantly, without having to download all those
images again.

That's the theory anyway, and it's generally a good system for most users. But we - and our
clients - are not 'most users'. We're special!

Why is it a problem?
Okay, so a site you've visited previously can load super-fast because it is, in effect, sitting on
your own computer. But what if the site has changed since you last visited? You could be
looking at something that's out of date. Your browser has a system of checking for page
elements that have been updated, but in practice this doesn't always work - especially in a
fast-moving website development situation.

During website development and maintenance things can be changing all the time; new
pictures, changed version of logos, text updates. We make the change, upload it to the web
server and ask the client to check it's all as they requested.

Thanks to caching it's usually about this time we'll get a phone call asking why the change
hasn't been made. The client has visited the site to check the work and can't see any difference
because what they are actually viewing is their local copy of the page, cached before the
changes were implemented.

Note: Pages that are served dynamically (for example using ASP or PHP) suffer less from this
issue as the text content tends to be drawn from a database, requiring a new call to the server
every time the page is requested. Items such as graphics or Flash elements tend not to be
stored in the database and will be cached. In fact, it's changes to images that most commonly
cause a problem.

How to get around browser caching

Generally speaking, caching is a 'good thing' as it will speed up your day-to-day browsing
experience. But like I said, you and we are special, and when we're working on developing a
website it's a good idea to know how to get around your browser's cache.

Replication vs. Caching

Both Cascade File System and Cascade Proxy use caching to speed up access to slow
repositories. The first time someone accesses a file, it is downloaded from the appropriate
server. Subsequent accesses pull the file from the cache instead. Eventually the cache will
fill up, and as new files are downloaded, old files are automatically evicted from the cache.

Caching is not the only way to speed up access to a slow repository. Another option is
replication: mirroring the contents of a repository on multiple servers. You might set up a
“master” repository at your main office and create replicas at each remote site. As changes
are committed to the master repository, they are mirrored over to the remote replicas.

To put it another way, caching is a “pull” model — data is pulled as it is requested — whereas
replication is a “push” model — data is pushed as it becomes available, regardless of whether
it has been requested.
Replication’s Advantages

Replication has one big performance advantage over caching: it accelerates the first access to
a file, not just subsequent accesses. Replication has a number of disadvantages, however, and
this advantage is not as clear-cut as it may seem. Combining caching with prefetching has
much the same effect.

For example, if your developers start to come in to the office at 8AM, you might kick off a
prefetch of all the files they typically use at 7AM, and they’ll all be locally cached before
anyone arrives. Or, if you work from home, you could start a prefetch each day in the
afternoon, and by the time you get home most of the files you need will already be cached.
You don’t need to prefetch everything — just the most important files — and this sort of
prefetching can be automated using tools like “cron”.

Another important feature of replication is that it doubles as an efficient way to do backups.

If you have an entire copy of your repository offsite, the chances that you will lose all your
data are slim. A cache may allow you to recover some files after a loss of data, but it is not a
replacement for a real backup system.

Replication also is ideal for disconnected operation. If you lose all network connectivity,
having a full replica means you still have access to all the data. In practice, however,
disconnected operation is becoming increasingly less important, with Internet and wireless
connectivity nearly ubiquitous.

Replication’s Disadvantages

On the flip side, replication has quite a few disadvantages that — if you are not using it to
perform backups — usually outweigh its advantages, especially for large projects.

Building a New Replica

Starting from scratch, it can take a very long time to build a new replica. In effect, you must
replay each commit to the repository starting from the beginning. For sufficiently large
projects, it may not even be realistic to build an offsite replica purely over a network — you
may be forced to build a replica at your main site, then physically ship the disks to the remote

Caching, on the other hand, has no such upfront costs. The cache can be populated gradually
over time, and the speedup from using the cache will grow as more files are populated into it.

Disk Space Cost

Each replica consumes the same amount of disk space as the main repository. The more
replicas you need, and the larger your repository, the more you will need to spend on disks to
store the replicas. This is usually acceptable for small projects, but once a repository grows
large enough that it cannot typically fit on a single commodity, off-the-shelf hard drive, this
starts to become troublesome. (Among other things, it becomes impractical for developers
who work at home to mirror the repository.)
Caching has no such disk space requiements proportional to the size of the repository. Larger
caches can store more files, but even a modestly-sized cache can have large performance
benefits. It is practical to set up caches not just at a site-wide level, but also on an individual

Network Bandwidth Cost

Replication mirrors every change, whether it is needed or not. As such, a replica is constantly
consuming network bandwidth. This can overload a remote office’s WAN link. In the limit,
it is even possible for replication to break down altogether if changes are being committed
faster than the data can be mirrored. Also, the mirroring places extra load on the master
repository’s server.

Caching, on the other hand, will almost always decrease, not increase, WAN bandwidth
usage. A file is not downloaded unless it is really needed.

Replication Lag

Replication is not immediate. It takes time for a change to propagate from the master
repository to the replicas. Sometimes the lag may be small, but it may spike if several large
changes are committed in a short period of time. When you are working off a replica, you
may think you are using the very latest “top of tree” source code, when in fact you may be
any number of changes behind. Depending on how it’s set up, the replica server might claim
that the missing changes don’t even exist — if you ask it to check out a revision number that
hasn’t replicated yet, it may give you an error message rather than waiting until the replication
catches up to that revision number.


For accelerating offsite development, caching, especially when combined with intelligent
prefetching, provides most of the advantages of replication without its many disadvantages.
Setting up caches is cheap and easy. Replication is best suited for offsite backups, not for
accelerating offsite development.

Caching vs. Replication

Jeff Darcy March 22, 2008 14:13

• Cache: a data location created/deployed to provide lower request latency

than the main data store (either by being located nearer to requesters or
by using faster components).
• Replica: a data store, separate from that where a request is served, that is
created/deployed to continue service after a failure.

In short, a cache exists to improve performance and a replica exists to improve resilience. A
cache that doesn’t improve performance is a failure, as is a replica that doesn’t improve
resilience, but the possibility of failure doesn’t turn one thing into another. Since defining
things in terms of purpose or intent often leaves things unclear, here are some practical
implications of the difference.
• Caches need not be current or complete. They may return stale data, or no
data at all, although many caches are designed to avoid stale data and
“transparent” caches will re-request data from the main store instead of
requiring that the requester do so after a miss.
• Replicas must be both current and complete (perhaps not perfectly but
always within defined limits), and authoritative or at least capable of
becoming authoritative. “Authoritative” means that they may not be
contradicted by alternative sources of information; if a conflict exists, the
authoritative source is unconditionally given precedence over any non-
authoritative one. (Authority loses its meaning if authorities disagree, of
course, but that’s a philosophical issue best left for another time. For now,
assume that authorities always agree.)
• Caches exist to improve request latency, but replication might actually
degrade request latency at the nearer data store as messages are
exchanged with the further one to preserve the required replica behavior.
• Replicas exist to improve resilience, but caching might degrade resilience
as the number of components (the caches and extra data paths) and
logical complexity both increase.

Caching is done in caching servers, e.g. the servers that your ISP
directs you to use for lookups, and in some cases in the resolvers local
to the client machines. The reason it takes time for changes to
propagate is because every DNS record is tagged with a Time To Live
(TTL) value. This tells caching servers how long they are allowed to
hold on to that record before they must check again with one of the
authoritative servers for the domain. If the TTL is 1 day (a pretty
common setting), and someone's server cached the record 1 minute before
you changed it, it will take 23 hours 59 minutes before that server will
notice the change (actually, it could take a bit longer, because it
might have been cached from one of the slave servers, and replication
takes time).

Domain Name System

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical naming system built on a distributed
database for computers, services, or any resource connected to theInternet or a private
network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the
participating entities. Most importantly, it translates domain names meaningful
to humans into the numerical identifiers associated with networking equipment for the
purpose of locating and addressing these devices worldwide.

An often-used analogy to explain the Domain Name System is that it serves as the phone
book for the Internet by translating human-friendly computer hostnames into IP addresses.
For example, the domain name www.example.com translates to the
addresses (IPv4) and 2620:0:2d0:200::10 (IPv6).

How Does DNS Work?

2.1 The Domain Name Space
DNS's distributed database is indexed by domain names. Each domain name is essentially just
a path in a large inverted tree, called the domain name space. The tree's hierarchical structure,
shown in Figure 2.1, is similar to the structure of the UNIX filesystem. The tree has a single
root at the top.[1] In the UNIX filesystem, this is called the root directory, represented by a
slash ("/"). DNS simply calls it "the root." Like a filesystem, DNS's tree can branch any
number of ways at each intersection point, called a node. The depth of the tree is limited to
127 levels (a limit you're not likely to reach).

2.1.3 Resource Records

The data associated with domain names are contained in resource records, or RRs. Records
are divided into classes, each of which pertains to a type of network or software. Currently,
there are classes for internets (any TCP/IP−based internet), networks based on the Chaosnet
protocols, and networks that use Hesiod software. (Chaosnet is an old network of largely
historic significance.)

2.4 Name Servers and Zones

The programs that store information about the domain name space are called name servers.
Name servers generally have complete information about some part of the domain name
space, called a zone, which they load from a file or from another name server. The name
server is then said to have authority for that zone. Name servers can be authoritative for
multiple zones, too.

The difference between a zone and a domain is important, but subtle. All top−level domains,
and many domains at the second level and lower, like berkeley.edu and hp.com, are broken
into smaller, more manageable units by delegation. These units are called zones. The edu
domain, shown in Figure 2.8, is divided into many zones, including the berkeley.edu zone, the
purdue.edu zone, and the nwu.edu zone. At the top of the domain, there's also an edu zone. It's
natural that the folks who run edu would break up the edu domain: otherwise, they'd have to
manage the berkeley.edu subdomain themselves. It makes much more sense to delegate
berkeley.edu to Berkeley. What's left for the folks who run edu? The edu zone, which would
contain mostly delegation information to subdomains of edu.
Figure 2.8: The edu domain broken into zones

The berkeley.edu subdomain is, in turn, broken up into multiple zones by delegation, as
shown in Figure 2.9. There are delegated subdomains called cc, cs, ce, me, and more. Each of
these subdomains is delegated to a set of name servers, some of which are also authoritative
for berkeley.edu. However, the zones are still separate, and may have a totally different group
of authoritative name servers.
2.6 Resolution
Name servers are adept at retrieving data from the domain name space. They have to be,
given the limited intelligence of some resolvers. Not only can they give you data about zones
for which they're authoritative, they can also search through the domain name space to find
data for which they're not authoritative. This process is called name resolution or simply

2.6.1 Root Name Servers

The root name servers know where there are authoritative name servers for each of the
top−level domains. (In fact, most of the root name servers are authoritative for the generic
top−level domains.) Given a query about any domain name, the root name servers can at least
provide the names and addresses of the name servers that are authoritative for the top−level
domain that the domain name is in. And the top−level name servers can provide the list of
name servers that are authoritative for the second−level domain that the domain name is in.
Each name server queried gives the querier information about how to get "closer" to the
answer it's seeking, or it provides the answer itself.

The root name servers are clearly important to resolution. Because they're so important, DNS
provides mechanisms − such as caching, which we'll discuss a little later − to help offload the
root name servers. But in the absence of other information, resolution has to start at the root
name servers. This makes the root name servers crucial to the operation of DNS; if all the
Internet root name servers were unreachable for an extended period, all resolution on the
Internet would fail. To protect against this, the Internet has thirteen root name servers (as of
this writing) spread across different parts of the network. Two are on the MILNET, the U.S.
military's portion of the Internet; one is on SPAN, NASA's internet; two are in Europe; and
one is in Japan.

Being the focal point for so many queries keeps the roots busy; even with thirteen, the traffic
to each root name server is very high. A recent informal poll of root name server
administrators showed some roots receiving thousands of queries per second.
Despite the load placed on root name servers, resolution on the Internet works quite well.
Figure 2.12 shows the resolution process for the address of a real host in a real domain,
including how the process corresponds to traversing the domain name space tree.

The local name server queries a root name server for the address of girigiri.gbrmpa.gov.au
and is referred to the au name servers. The local name server asks an au name server the same
question, and is referred to the gov.au name servers. The gov.au name server refers the local
name server to the gbrmpa.gov.au name servers. Finally, the local name server asks a
gbrmpa.gov.au name server for the address and gets the answer.
A resolver queries a local name server, which then queries a number of other name servers in
pursuit of an answer for the resolver. Each name server it queries refers it to another name
server that is authoritative for a zone further down in the name space and closer to the domain
name sought. Finally, the local name server queries the authoritative name server, which
returns an answer.

2.7 Caching
The whole resolution process may seem awfully convoluted and cumbersome to someone
accustomed to simple searches through the host table. Actually, it's usually quite fast. One of
the features that speeds it up considerably is caching.

A name server processing a recursive query may have to send out quite a few queries to find
an answer. However, it discovers a lot of information about the domain name space as it does
so. Each time it's referred to another list of name servers, it learns that those name servers are
authoritative for some zone, and it learns the addresses of those servers. And, at the end of the
resolution process, when it finally finds the data the original querier sought, it can store that
data for future reference, too. With version 4.9 and all version 8 BINDs, name servers even
implement negative caching: if an authoritative name server responds to a query with an
answer that says the domain name or data type in the query doesn't exist, the local name
server will temporarily cache that information, too. Name servers cache all of this data to help
speed up successive queries. The next time a resolver queries the name server for data about a
domain name the name server knows something about, the process is shortened quite a bit.
The name server may have cached the answer, positive or negative, in which case it simply
returns the answer to the resolver. Even if it doesn't have the answer cached, it may have
learned the identities of the name servers that are authoritative for the zone the domain name
is in and be able to query them directly.
For example, say our name server has already looked up the address of eecs.berkeley.edu. In
the process, it cached the names and addresses of the eecs.berkeley.edu and berkeley.edu
name servers (plus eecs.berkeley.edu's IP address). Now if a resolver were to query our name
server for the address of baobab.cs.berkeley.edu, our name server could skip querying the root
name servers. Recognizing that berkeley.edu is the closest ancestor of baobab.cs.berkeley.edu
that it knows about, our name server would start by querying a berkeley.edu name server, as
shown in Figure 2.16. On the other hand, if our name server had discovered that there was no
address for eecs.berkeley.edu, the next time it received a query for the address, it could simply
have responded appropriately from its cache.

In addition to speeding up resolution, caching prevents us from having to query the root name
servers again. This means that we're not as dependent on the roots, and they won't suffer as
much from all our queries.

2.7.1 Time to Live

Name servers can't cache data forever, of course. If they did, changes to that data on the
authoritative name servers would never reach the rest of the network. Remote name servers
would just continue to use cached data. Consequently, the administrator of the zone that
contains the data decides on a time to live, or TTL, for the data. The time to live is the amount
of time that any name server is allowed to cache the data. After the time to live expires, the
name server must discard the cached data and get new data from the authoritative name
servers. This also applies to negatively cached data; a name server must time out a negative
answer after a period, too, in case new data has been added on the authoritative name servers.
However, the time to live for negatively cached data isn't tunable by the domain
administrator; it's hardcoded to ten minutes.

Deciding on a time to live for your data is essentially deciding on a trade−off between
performance and consistency. A small TTL will help ensure that data about your domain is
consistent across the network, because remote name servers will time it out more quickly and
be forced to query your authoritative name servers more often for new data. On the other
hand, this will increase the load on your name servers and lengthen resolution time for
information in your domain, on the average.

A large TTL will shorten the average time it takes to resolve information in your domain
because the data can be cached longer. The drawback is that your information will be
inconsistent for a longer time if you make changes to your data on your name servers.
Naming Service
• Mapping of logical names to physical addresses or object
• Logical names given by user (location independent)
• Service returns the addresses (location dependent)

Directory Service
• Management of attributes of the named instances
• Attribute based search for named instances
• Similar to the “Yellow Pages” search model

3.1 Getting BIND

If you plan to set up your own domain and run name servers for it, you'll need the BIND
software first. Even if you're planning on having someone else run your domain, it's helpful to
have the software around. For example, you can use your local name server to test your data
files before giving them to your remote domain administrator.

What is BIND and what does it do?

BIND is an implementation of the Domain Name System (DNS) protocols. The name BIND
stands for "Berkeley Internet Name Domain", because the software originated in the early
1980s at the University of California at Berkeley. In recent years, the word BIND has
become, like "radar" and "snafu" and "laser" and "scuba", more word than acronym.

The DNS protocols are part of the core Internet standards. They specify the process by which
one computer can find another computer on the basis of its name.

What it means to say "BIND is an implementation of the DNS protocols" is that

the BIND software distribution contains all of the software needed both
to ask name service questions and to answer such questions.

The BIND software distribution contains three parts:

• A Domain Name System server. This is a program called "named", which is

pronounced "name-dee" and stands for "name daemon". It answers questions that are
sent to it, following the rules specified in the DNS protocol standards. You can
provide DNS service on the internet by installing this software on a server computer
and giving it correct information about your domain names.
• A Domain Name System "resolver library". A "resolver" is a program that resolves
questions about names by sending those questions to appropriate servers and
responding appropriately to the servers' replies. A "resolver library" is a collection of
software components that a programmer can add to software being developed, which
will give that software the ability to resolve names. For example, a programmer who
was programming a new web browser does not need to create the part of it that looks
up names in DNS; he or she can plug in the resolver library and then send quesitons to
the library software components. This saves time (the programmer does not need to re-
invent that particular wheel) and helps ensure that the new browser correctly follows
the DNS standards.
• Software tools for testing servers. These are the tools that we use for testing, and we
include them in the distribution in case you would like to do your own testing, perhaps
to make sure your server configuration is working properly.

Berkeley Internet Name Domain-BIND

BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Domain) is an implementation of the DNS protocols and provides an
openly redistributable reference implementation of the major components of the Domain Name
System, including:

• Domain Name System server

• Domain Name System resolver library
• Tools for managing and verifying the proper operation of the DNS server

The BIND DNS Server is used on the vast majority of name serving machines on the Internet,
providing a robust and stable architecture on top of which an organization's naming architecture can
be built.

The resolver library included in the BIND distribution provides the standard APIs for translation
between domain names and Internet addresses and is intended to be linked with applications requiring
name service.

BIND version 9 is a major rewrite of nearly all aspects of the underlying BIND architecture. Some of
the important features of BIND 9 are DNS Security (DNSSEC, TSIG), IPv6, DNS Protocol
Enhancements (IXFR, DDNS, DNS Notify, EDNS0), Views, Multiprocessor Support, and an Improved
Portability Architecture.

Today, BIND version 4 is officially deprecated and BIND version 8 development is considered
maintenance-only in favor of BIND version 9. No additional development will be done on BIND version
4 or BIND version 8 other than for security related patches. ISC encourages all BIND users to upgrade
to version 9 at their earliest convenience.