A VMM-level approach to shortening downtime of operating systems reboots in software updates

Hiroshi Yamada, Kenji Kono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Operating system (OS) reboots are an essential part of updating kernels and applications on laptops and desktop PCs. Long downtime during OS reboots severely disrupts users' computational activities. This long disruption discourages the users from conducting OS reboots, failing to enforce them to conduct software updates. Although the dynamic updatable techniques have been widely studied, making the system "reboot-free" is still difficult due to their several limitations. As a result, users cannot benefit from new functionality or better performance, and even worse, unfixed vulnerabilities can be exploited by attackers. This paper presents ShadowReboot, a virtual machine monitor (VMM)-based approach that shortens downtime of OS reboots in software updates. ShadowReboot conceals OS reboot activities from user's applications by spawning a VM dedicated to an OS reboot and systematically producing the rebooted state where the updated kernel and applications are ready for use. ShadowReboot provides an illusion to the users that the guest OS travels forward in time to the rebooted state. ShadowReboot offers the following advantages. It can be used to apply patches to the kernels and even system configuration updates. Next, it does not require any special patch requiring detailed knowledge about the target kernels. Lastly, it does not require any target kernel modification. We implemented a prototype in VirtualBox 4.0.10 OSE. Our experimental results show that ShadowReboot successfully updated software on unmodified commodity OS kernels and shortened the downtime of commodity OS reboots on five Linux distributions (Fedora, Ubuntu, Gentoo, Cent, and SUSE) by 91 to 98%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2663-2675
Number of pages13
JournalIEICE Transactions on Information and Systems
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Oct 1


  • Software updates
  • Virtual machines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence


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