Making Open Work
May 8–9, 2017: Training & Tutorials
May 10–11, 2017: Conference
Austin, TX

MirageOS 3: Smaller, lighter, and more transparent

Mindy Preston (Docker), Amir Chaudhry (Docker)
4:15pm4:55pm Wednesday, May 10, 2017
The Cutting Edge
Location: Meeting Room 18 A/B
Level: Advanced
Average rating: ****.
(4.50, 2 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Developers and deployers of software

Prerequisite knowledge

  • Interest in systems-level software architecture
  • Familiarity with the concepts of "userspace" and "kernel" in a traditional operating system
  • An understanding of the difference between a reusable library and a nonreusable binary

What you'll learn

  • Explore library operating systems and library hypervisors
  • Understand how MirageOS or another unikernel platform can benefit your applications
  • Learn a path to contributing to MirageOS and discover exactly where the project needs help


MirageOS, one of the most well-known unikernel projects, has created new tooling to make it easier to add new targets to MirageOS, widening the scope for deployments and community contributions. MirageOS 3, for example, enables KVM support via use of a lightweight hypervisor called ukvm, developed by researchers at IBM.

Mindy Preston and Amir Chaudhry discuss the benefits of the lightweight hypervisor approach compared to traditional hypervisor development and explain how this helped the team add a major, new supported platform to MirageOS 3, expanding the set of supported public clouds enormously. Mindy and Amir also explore feedback from users and critics on unikernels generally and MirageOS specifically and provide a short overview of what has been improved in MirageOS 3 and what still needs community help. They end with a demonstration of how to get up and running with a MirageOS unikernel on a public cloud in less than the total time of the talk itself.

Topics include:

  • New Virtio and ukvm targets via the Solo5 project
  • Production use cases of MirageOS unikernels and code
  • Improved error handling, logging, and debugging
  • The much-improved documentation and onboarding experience
Photo of Mindy Preston

Mindy Preston


Mindy Preston is a software engineer on the core team at Docker and a maintainer of MirageOS. Previously, Mindy was a research assistant, a computer security analyst, a systems administrator, a maker of sandwiches, a raker of leaves, and a sorter of discarded things.

Photo of Amir Chaudhry

Amir Chaudhry


Amir Chaudhry works at Docker, where he helps make unikernels accessible to developers everywhere, and is the community manager for MirageOS. Most of Amir’s time is spent on open source efforts, and he’s a big fan of automation to maximize developer impact. In previous lives, he led operations at a medical device startup, created a seed investing program, and was a board observer. Amir also has a diverse academic background: he holds an MSci in physics and a PhD in neuroscience. When not working on unikernels, Amir is probably looking at the sky and wondering when he can next go skydiving.