London Solaris SIG February 2013

Last Thursdays talk, SmartOS in the cloud was interesting, not least because it was the first meeting I’ve been to where the presenter was giving the talk via Webex. It worked well. Perhaps one day Ben Rockwood’s descendant will be able to give a talk via tele-holo-vision, as if he were in the room.

The interest for me also came from looking at cloud technologies at the far end of the spectrum from the major vendors offerings, which is where all the professional services work is. Joyent does have a share of this market but I’m not sure if it is more than a Rizla worth. Perhaps I am doing them a disservice.

We were reminded that Illumos is the Opensource continuation of the OpenSolaris kernel, upon which SmartOS, OmniOS, OpenIndiana and Tribblix distros are built. These all have different uses. SmartOS is purpose built for virtualisation and is certainly not a general purpose operating system. It is lightweight, stateless (think esxi), has zones and KVM and essence of Solaris”. This cool sounding OS runs in RAM and is best booted from PXE.

We went into quite a lot of technical stuff, and Ben could have carried on for hours (another time). What struck me was the amount of open source software in the stack. Some of them I remember are Zabbix, chef, jabber, pingdom, openldap, bart. Of course, if you are a FTSE100 company you like to buy your software from other big companies. Personally I like open source software.

One question which I didn’t get the opportunity to ask was regarding the commercials. If you are selling a cloud service (which Joyent are), on the back of all this free software, are there any legal or licensing issues? Do you have to give you users loads of license files to tick? At one point, some open source software disallowed it’s use for commercial purposes. Perhaps I am out of date, or more likely Joyent themselves pay for it in some way.

Anyway, it looks good and definitely worth bearing in mind, and even labbing if time were no barrier.


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