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A distributed operating system encourages a style of programming in which independently developed processes interact in a nontrivial fashion at run time. Server processes, for example, must deal with clients that they do not understand, and certainly cannot trust. Interprocess communications can be written in a traditional, sequential language with direct calls to kernel primitives, but the result is both cumbersome and error-prone. Convenience and safety are offered by the many distributed languages proposed to date, but in a form too inflexible for anything other than the pieces of a single distributed program. A new language known as LYNX overcomes the disadvantages of both these previous approaches. Novel features of LYNX address problems encountered in the course of practical experience, writing distributed programs without high-level language support. Chief among these features are a virtual circuit abstraction called the link, and an unconventional coroutine mechanism that allows a server to maintain nested contexts for interleaved conversations with an arbitrary number of clients.
Date of Publication: Jan. 1987