Lead Image © leeavison, 123RF.com

Lead Image © leeavison, 123RF.com

Operating systems for the cloud and containers

Young Heroes

Article from ADMIN 40/2017
In the era of containers and clouds, the importance of the operating system is dwindling. Practically invulnerable lean operating systems that only handle elementary tasks are just what the doctor ordered.

The role of the operating system in the IT universe is at a turning point. In the pre-cloud era, the operating system was the decisive and determining component. The cloud, virtualization, and the container have rocked and permanently changed the model that has the operating system at its heart, and a number of new approaches have emerged in its wake. A lean and secure infrastructure takes care of some of the tasks; the containers built on top of this infrastructure do the rest of the work.

More or Less

Grossly simplified, the value of the service provided by an operating system is measured with reference to the software it supplies. If the expectations of the existing core software drop, then the operating system needs to have less ballast in terms of packages. Distributors offering lean Linux systems follow this principle. In the simplest case, they reduce the amount of software supplied, but if they want to do a better job, they need to look in even more depth at processes, procedures, and other design principles.

The most popular distributions that follow the lean approach are CirrOS [1], Alpine [2], JeOS (just enough operating system) [3], and the operating system formerly known as CoreOS [4], now called Container Linux, which better matches the type of operating system discussed in this article.

Scrawny Ubuntu

CirrOS (Figure 1) is a good illustration of the principle of "less is more." The project is now more than five years old. The first public version 0.3.0 was released in October 2011; version 0.3.5 is the most recent. The source

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