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Linux Fatware: Distros That Need To Slim Down 299

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-in-shape dept.
snydeq writes "We need bare-bones Linux distros tailored for virtual machines or at least the option for installs, writes Deep End's Paul Venezia. 'As I prepped a new virtual server template the other day, it occurred to me that we need more virtualization-specific Linux distributions or at least specific VM-only options when performing an install. A few distros take steps in this direction, such as Ubuntu and OEL jeOS (just enough OS), but they're not necessarily tuned for virtual servers. For large installations, the distributions in use are typically highly customized on one side or the other — either built as templates and deployed to VMs, or deployed through the use of silent installers or scripts that install only the bits and pieces required for the job. However, these are all handled as one-offs. They're generally not available or suitable for general use.'"
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Linux Fatware: Distros That Need To Slim Down

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  • Once upon a time... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by filmorris (2466940) on Monday April 08, 2013 @04:00PM (#43394457)
    there was Arch. And Gentoo. And LFS. And long strings of 0s and 1s. Then a rock and a piece of wood.
  • vmware tools? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iaw4 (2704637) on Monday April 08, 2013 @04:09PM (#43394569)
    and why do we still need vmware tools to be installed separately? why are these guest tools not already natively supported out of the box?
  • Re:Ubuntu Core (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ilikenwf (1139495) on Monday April 08, 2013 @04:13PM (#43394621)
    With the kernel it's almost always fairly mainstream changes - security patches, upstream stuff, BFS, whatever. With the userland, I see patches only when necessary on something like Gentoo or Arch... With Ubuntu though, it's a nightmare.

    Real world example: I develop with the Nightingale Media Player. While setting it up to use the current taglib, we managed to get it to work just fine with the taglib shipped with about every distro you can imagine...except Ubuntu. Some patch they have going on there completely breaks the build, as well as playback and tag parsing.
  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 08, 2013 @04:42PM (#43394899)

    Can You explain to me why Ubuntu sucks? I have seen this statement multiple times on Slashdot, but I really think this is just a stupid trend.

    When I configured my workstation, I downloaded the Ubuntu 12.04 minimal CD [30MB] and installed a encrypted commandline system . After that I installed Xorg and compiled DWM with my preferred settings, then I installed browser, editor etc. The system is slim, fast and stable but it is still Ubuntu, so can You explain why my system sucks?

    Ubuntu consists of a Linux kernel and GNU userland like most other Linux distros, but I also get the following:

    1. Applications and kernel that is compiled with hardening flags. Current Debian is built with absolutely no hardening, so a zero day in a network service on Debian will be very very easy to exploit.

    2. Security updates to 2017

    3. Reasonably current software.

    I also like Debian very much, but I think it is stupid to keep saying that Ubuntu sucks...

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Monday April 08, 2013 @05:40PM (#43395365) Homepage Journal

    I run Ubuntu server on a certain box, for one reason. If I weren't for this case, that machine wouldn't have Ubuntu, but it does:

    Mythbackend.

    I want the backend to run the same version of MythTV as my Mythbuntu front ends (and regardless of whatever you overall think of Ubuntu, MythBuntu is a pretty good "applicance" if you're into MythTV). One of the ugly things about MythTV is that the front and back ends need to be the same version; MythTV isn't very tolerant of differing versions. (Or at least that's what the case was in the 0.23-0.24 days; I haven't tried mixing 0.25 with 0.24.)

    So I can either compile my own to make sure each side is using the same version (which totally defeats the point of MythBuntu) or I can make sure all the boxes use the same version, by making them all use the same basic repository. I did the latter, because I'm lazy.

    BTW, if I were deploying a new system in 2013, I would take a good hard look at LXC, running a minimal Ubuntu with their release of Mythbackend inside of a container, hosted by an overall more stable, less .. scary(?) distro. I think lots of oldschool Linux dudes reach for "heavier" virtualization, not realizing what features have been added to the vanilla (!!!) kernels in the last couple years. No Linux-Vserver or OpenVZ patches needed (assuming you don't consider the contained system to be potentially hostile; DO NOT think of LXC as a security tool, yet). LXC isn't done, but it's already at a point where it's useful in some situations, and your box may very well have it built in, right now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 08, 2013 @06:12PM (#43395759)

    What you need is a ulibc distribution that is designed for virtualization utilizing a KVM kernel and a uclibc user land based on debian. About 15 years ago I tried to get a project started using this for a bios level booting of the distro for the hypervisor. That was before KVM and Xen was the rage but Xen was so heavily dependent on gllibc that separating them required a huge amount of work that needed constant updating, so noone was interested. Distros based on Uclibc are very small 50 MB in size. building a whole distribution would be a great thing. Designing a distro that allows one to compile each package during the install would be cool as well with a cloud based compile. There is a distro out there that is like the old Xen demo cd that is cool as well. Using thread virtualization would be nice as well. open source virtualization [rawcell.com]

  • NetBSD (Score:4, Interesting)

    by manu0601 (2221348) on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:41PM (#43397597)
    Want a slim OS? Try NetBSD [netsbd.org]. with just the minimal sets (base.tgz, etc.tgz and kern.tgz), it brings a full Unix system with just 120 MB. It can be slimed down by making custom build without some bits (kerberos, PAM...)
  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Tuesday April 09, 2013 @12:24AM (#43398131) Homepage

    That Oracle supports running on btrfs isn't really a strong statement about its quality level for general use. btrfs aims to runs Oracle stably as its top development priority. Oracle doesn't require very many filesystem features. Some people run it happily on raw disk volumes. There's a good sized list of companies over the years that have built filesystems optimized for exactly type of workload Oracle creates. As an example, around 2006 I had a consulting job getting PostgreSQL to work well on a Linux system with the Veritas vxfs filesystem. Much of that tuning involved making the database's I/O look more like how Oracle writes things--things like using direct I/O instead of cached writes.

    The problems get bad when you try to use btrfs for anything else. Repeat the same sort of experiment today, try and use PostgreSQL on btrfs for example, and you can expect btrfs will panic and corrupt itself under heavy load. The specific subset of filesystem read/write and caching behaviors Oracle expects may work, but the other read/write paths through the btrfs filesystem aren't nearly as well tested. Oracle's priorities for btrfs QA remind me of the old joke about Microsoft's monopoly abuse: "DOS Ain't Done til Lotus Won't Run".

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