Ksplice, a system that makes it possible for you *not* to have to reboot a computer every time a new update is installed, took top honors in this year's MIT $100,000 Entrepreneurship Competition. Ksplice enables running systems to stay secure without the disruption of rebooting. Specifically, Ksplice creates rebootless updates that are based on traditional source code patches. These updates are as effective as traditional updates, but they can be applied seamlessly, with no downtime.
The Ksplice project had its roots nearly three years ago when Jeff Arnold was working on MIT's servers and had to deal with a security update that arrived midweek. He decided to delay installing it until the weekend to avoid downtime while the servers were in heavy use. Unfortunately, the delay resulted in a security breach that required reinstalling all the system software.
After the unfortunate experience, says Waseem Daher, co-founder and COO of Ksplice, Arnold worked on developing a solution to the problem, which became the basis for his master's degree thesis. While rebooting after every update is an annoyance for individual computer users, it can have a significant impact in lost time for those operating large server farms or for corporate or institutional IT departments, where hundreds or thousands of computers need to be updated at a time. "The need is ubiquitous," Daher said.