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Tomorrow’s mobile computing environment might see a proliferation of public-use (kiosk) machines where users can simply and easily call up their desktop environments. This vision offers an alternative to portable computing that doesn’t require users to carry bulky, fragile, and theft-prone laptops. We posit that kiosk machines are capable of hosting users' desktops as virtual machines and propose a virtual disk design. The virtual disk design allows for an efficient access to per-user state held “in the network.” We use flash-based disks to capture virtual machine memory state and to act as a cache for the virtual disk. We also allow static portions of the virtual disk, e.g., binaries for Windows and Office, to be served from the kiosk disk. We will demo a prototype of this system that uses portable flash memory and the VPC2004 virtual machine environment.

This project is no longer actively under development.

You can find posters from a technical fair here, and a powerpoint presentation  here.

  • Andrew Birrell, Michael Isard, Chuck Thacker, and Ted Wobber, A Design for High-Performance Flash Disks, in Operating Systems Review, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 88-93, Association for Computing Machinery, Inc., April 2007.