Hey, You Have Given Me Too Many Knobs!: Understanding and Dealing with Over-Designed Configuration in System Software

sigsoft_tTianyin Xu, Long Jin, Xuepeng Fan, Yuanyuan Zhou, Shankar Pasupathy, and Rukma Talwadker

Configuration problems are not only prevalent, but also severely impair the reliability of today’s system software. One fundamental reason is the ever-increasing complexity of configuration, reflected by the large number of configuration parameters (“knobs”). With hundreds of knobs, configuring system software to ensure high reliability and performance becomes a daunting, error-prone task.This paper makes a first step in understanding a fundamental question of configuration design: “do users really need so many knobs?”

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