Sunday, November 25, 2007

How much of an OS distro is necessary for a Pile of Lamps

The recent conversation on Pile of Lamps rekindled an interest from a previous life - distro engineering.

My current focus has been to select an initial set of workbench tools.

Here's my version 0.5:

  • VirtualBox - I could have just as easily chosen VMWAre, but this is a home project, so economy reigns. I do want to work out the process with both products, so I've probably take a look at EasyVMX in the not too distant future. Early results confirm my original suspicions - VMWare is definitely the king of the hill, but VirtualBox does nicely for now.
  • T2 - This is a recent discovery. It's a fork of Rock Linux. They provide a nice system development environment well suited for building distributions.
I can hear it now.
"But we already have gabillions of distros -don't even think about building another one!"

Like blogs, there can never be too many distros. :-)

Call it my take on Just Enough OS.

Much of what is contained in most distros is excess baggage, catering to an audience wanting all manner of doodads. Granted, there are minimalist distros, stripped down to a bare bones environment. My primary issue with these is that they tend to be focused on squeezing as much functionality into as small a space as possible. The problem space for Pile of Lamps appears to be different.

For Pile of Lamps, or JeOS, the key design goal should be to remove as much complexity as possible. The dramatic increase in the apparent number of running machines compounds the the problem of system management. Perhaps an appropriate solution is to strip the base installation to a bare minimum. Here's a quick list of the more obvious benefits.
  • Less to upgrade
  • Less to configure
  • Smaller security risk footprint
  • Faster to transport over the wire
In its most extreme form, the kernel's call to init could reference the end application, but there are several piddly details that make the use of init (or equiv) worth serious consideration. At any rate, these types of design trade-offs are at the heart of my little experiment.

Let me know what you think.

1 comment:

Walter_Gasolero said...
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