A Comparison of Two Distributed Systems: Amoeba and Sprite

F. Douglis, J.K. Ousterhout, M.F. Kaashoek, A.S. Tanenbaum

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper compares two distributed operating systems, Amoeba and Sprite. Although the systems share many goals, they diverged on two philosophical grounds: whether to emphasize a distributed computing model or traditional UNIX-style applications, and whether to use a workstation-centered model of computation or a combination of terminals and a shared processor pool. Many of the most prominent features of the systems (both positive and negative) follow from the philosophical differences. For example, Amoeba provides a high-performance user-level IPC mechanism, while Sprite's RPC mechanism is only available for kernel use; Sprite's file access performance benefits from client-level caching, while Amoeba caches files only on servers; and Sprite uses a process migration model to share compute power, while Amoeba uses a centralized server to allocate processors and distribute load automatically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-384
Number of pages32
JournalComputing Systems Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1991


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