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Red Hat Software Businesses Software Linux

Fedora Project Considering "Stateless Linux" 234

Havoc Pennington writes "Red Hat developers have been working on a generic framework covering all cases of sharing a single operating system install between multiple physical or virtual computers. This covers mounting the root filesystem diskless, keeping a read-only copy of it cached on a local disk, or storing it on a live CD, among other cases. Because OS configuration state is shared rather than local, the project is called 'stateless Linux.' The post to fedora-devel-list is here, and a PDF overview is here."
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Fedora Project Considering "Stateless Linux"

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  • Re:Looks neat but... (Score:4, Informative)

    by JPyObjC Dude ( 772176 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @07:47PM (#10241563)
    There are dozens but they do not sit in the normal desktop computer realm. Such an architecture would be well suited for low cost server arrays that could run an app like compler, rendering or seti farms.

    Once such a system is set up properly, it could be self maintaining with a significant reduction in hardware and energy and maintenance costs.
  • Re:LTSP (Score:5, Informative)

    by LincolnQ ( 648660 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @07:49PM (#10241589)
    It is intended to be a balance between thin and fat clients. So you have applications stored on the server, but copied and executed locally.

    Seems like a good idea to me.
  • Nothing new.. (Score:1, Informative)

    by woah ( 781250 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @07:49PM (#10241593)
    This sounds a lot like VAXCluster technology [], which was first introduced by DEC in 1983.

    There's plenty of Linux clustering technologies available. I wonder how does the Red Hat stuff compare.

  • Re:mainframe (Score:5, Informative)

    by owlstead ( 636356 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @07:58PM (#10241674)
    Terminals did not have their own CPU to do things. Here everything is kept local, except the OS install which can easily be managed. Since Linux can work without rebooting for driver installs (which is a necesity in this case) you can even run different kind of hardware on a single install. Basically you now have a flexible, cheap network computer.

    And since we cannot do without networking anyway, and since storage devices are easy to make high available, this would seem like a blessing to me.
  • by v1x ( 528604 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @07:58PM (#10241678) Homepage
    > Isn't this what we blame microsoft for? <

    Not quite: we blame them for having to *run* a lot of programs as root to get full functionality. In most *nixes, OTOH, you only need root passwords to *install* programs, while the programs themselves run just fine for regular users.

    I dont see anything wrong with having to ask for root passwords for critical changes to any system: its a good practice, and one of the better implementations of it is seen in OS X, which actually has 'Lock/Unlock' icons for settings that need root access.
  • RTFA, dammit! (Score:5, Informative)

    by tempest303 ( 259600 ) <jensknutson AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday September 13, 2004 @08:01PM (#10241702) Homepage
    This is NOT just LSTP all over again! RTFA!

    From the article:
    • Applications run on local systems
      • avoids the needs for huge terminal servers with complex load balancing
      • works for laptops (emphasis mine)
    • Software and data are cached on the local disk
      • reduces bandwidth and increases speed
      • the cache can be read-only and thus per-computer state is impossible
      • works for laptops
  • Re:Looks neat but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @08:05PM (#10241729)
    Exactly, this is a lot like windows roaming profiles and network mounted home directories. All the user settings and files move with the user without the drawbacks of terminal servers (of course it also comes with a lot of the drawbacks of disperse workstations). Combine this with network mounted application directories and you have almost as low of a TCO as terminal servers with the power of individual workstations.
  • by Bazzargh ( 39195 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @08:06PM (#10241738)
    "I want a distro where by default packages install under $HOME so that someone can install their favorite browser without root access."

    Take a look at zero install []. You can install 0install on many distros (as root) then install apps as a user exactly like you want.

    Or buy a mac!
  • by vrmlknight ( 309019 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @08:07PM (#10241743) Homepage
    same install image will work on a lot of different hardware i.e a laptop with all the power saving features, IDE hard drives and a P4 M processor that same install image will work on a AMD desktop system with scsi drives...

    thats it in a nutshell....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, 2004 @08:10PM (#10241774)
    I want my web browser to pick up all sorts of crud from the net and populate my drives with viruses.

    no, seriously,

    doesn't the configure step normally offer this type of customizing ?

    $ tar -zxvf app_0.73.tgz;
    $ cd app_0.73
    $ ./configure --prefix=${HOME}
    $ make
    $ make install

  • by agristin ( 750854 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @08:13PM (#10241807) Journal
    If you read the article, you will see that:

    1) they don't want users to need root for hardware (but do want users to need the admin to install certain software). This info is in the PDF. They already see that needing root for hardware install or configuration needs to be worked around.

    2) the design is a hybrid or amalgamation of thin and fat client, trying to cherry pick the best of both:

    applications run on local systems

    software and data cached on local disk

    central management and configuration of nodes

    they call it a cached client technology

    3) they have a plan for laptops. Stateless... instantiation, sync... things that sound vague, but they seem to have a plan because this stuff is considered in the howto. There are some notes in the how-to covering the different types of clients:

    " diskless clients, which boot directly from a snapshot stored on the server
    caching clients, which boot from a copy of a snapshot, cached locally on a hard drive.
    Live CD clients, which boot from a copy of a snapshot burned onto a CD
    thick clients, which don't use snapshots and must be maintained by another means.

    The idea has some very cool potential for a business or network situation. I can't imagine this is ready for production, but it could be soon.

  • Re:Looks neat but... (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:02PM (#10242210) Homepage Journal
    Even better, use this to eliminate the burden of maintaining all those installs, but use OpenMOSIX clustering. Now, everyone will get all the available performance of all the systems, AND you reduce your administration overhead. Too bad you can't use a 2.6 kernel with o-mosix yet - but that's coming in the next six months to a year. They say [] that they're aiming to move everything possible into userspace, which will help them achieve their next goal, of splitting architecture-dependent code from everything else. There is still one more release (for kernel 2.4.26) before they get crackin' on 2.6 however. MOSIX has the same problem (plus is x86-only) and is available for kernel 2.4.27.

    If this thin client cluster idea appeals to you, please see ltsp-mosix [].

  • by Gentlewhisper ( 759800 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:35PM (#10242404)
    so here it is for those of you who don't know. From Wiki.

    In American politics, the term astroturfing is used perjoratively to describe formal public relations projects which deliberately give the impression of spontaneous and populist reactions.

    The term is a play on "grassroots" efforts, which are truly spontaneous undertakings. AstroTurf refers to the bright green artificial grass used in some indoor sports stadiums.

    A "grassroots" action or campaign is one that is started spontaneously and is largely sustained by private persons, not politicians, corporations or public relations firms. A "grassroots" campaign is perceived to come from the popular feelings of some mass of people and to not be a creation of the powerful.

    "Astroturfing", by contrast, is a campaign crafted by politicians or other professionals but carefully designed to appear that it is the result of popular feeling rather than manipulation. The astroturfing campaign attempts to gain legitimacy by appearing to spring forth spontaneously from "the people". If the campaign is well executed, the planners hope that the public at large will believe that "all those independent viewpoints could not have been faked."

    Examples of these kinds of practices can be found throughout history, though there is a perception that use of astroturfing is increasing in reaction to the declining credibility of politicians and corporations.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, 2004 @10:45PM (#10242838)
    Only if you have had your head stuck in the ground. Freebsd has had this for ages.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @03:11AM (#10243901)
    No it's not.

    Linux is very flexible. I've designed and setup my own NFS-root style setup for a X terminal. It's not THAT difficult, you can do this with any Linux distro, and even the packaging and authenticating stuff still works just fine.

    This project is just taking that to the next step.

    The reason it's not that ambitions is because it's mostly using software technology already being developed and deployed in Linux installations. There is only a little bit NEW (as in code) that they need to setup to get this to work, the rest is based on proven technologies.

    That's the advantage of the modular Linux setup vs a Monolythic Windows. With Windows you get a big mold in the shape of the OS MS thinks your most likely to need and want. Linux it's all made from building blocks that somebody assembles and glues together for you.

    Mostly what Redhat is going to do is take those existing blocks and simply rearrange them with some of the newer storage technics (like GFS's distributed filing systems) and networking technology.

    Basicly instead of having one computer connected to the network, the network itself is the computer, and each individual PC is just a small part of a big whole.

    Kinda like a multicelled organism. A Windows domain is like a algea mass full of automimous cells with only the top layers working together, except controlled by a domain controller. A stateless linux setup would be more like a jellyfish, with cells part of a bigger whole.

    Combine this with something like OpenMosix and other clustering stuff, each computer upgrade, each new group of computers you buy increase the capabilities as a whole. So if one group has a bunch of 500mhz cpus and 20gig drives, and another group gets 3000mhz cpus and 200gig drives, then the group with the older computers will still gain more disk space and proccessing power, even if the computer in front of them doesn't change. (and if you know about OpenMosix, it doesn't require that you have multi-threaded apps or reprogram stuff. Threads/proccesses are automaticly migrated to other computers if the resources allow it and the algorythms figure it would increase performance)

    If, of course, that's how you want it setup. If individual PC's with a LDAP server (same as a Windows Domain) is better for you, you can do that too. And all things in between.
  • by nzkoz ( 139612 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2004 @05:22AM (#10244222) Homepage

    The bug was closed as WONTFIX because the reporter was an obnoxious prick. Referring to the developer as a Moron on repeated occasions. The fact is that if you want people to help you, yelling abuse is not a particularly good strategy.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger