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This paper describes the design of the Saguaro operating system for computers connected by a local-area network. Systems constructed on such an architecture have the potential advantages of concurrency and robustness. In Saguaro, these advantages are made available to the user through several mechanisms. One is channels, an interprocess communication and synchronization facility that allows the input and output of different commands to be connected to form general graphs of communicating processes. Two additional mechanisms are provided to support semitransparent file replication and access: reproduction sets and metafiles. A reproduction set is a collection of files that the system attempts to keep identical on a "best effort" basis. A metafile is a special file that contains symbolic pathnames of other files; when a metafile is opened, the system selects an available constituent file and opens it instead. The advantages of concurrency and robustness are also realized at the system level by the use of pools of server processes and decentralized allocation protocols. Saguaro also makes extensive use of a type system to describe user data such as files and to specify the types of arguments to commands and procedures. This enables the system to assist in type checking and leads to a user interface in which command-specific templates are available to facilitate command invocation.
Date of Publication: Jan. 1987