OS and distro as a detail of a VM/container

An interesting debate came about on Beowulf list. Basically, someone asked if they could use Gentoo as a distro for building a cluster, after seeing a post from someone whom did something similar.

The answer of course is “yes”, with the more detailed answer being that you use what you need to build the cluster and provide the cycles that you or your users will consume.

Hey, look, if someone really, truly wants to run their DOS application, Tiburon/Scalable OS will boot it. This isn’t an ego issue. We have customers actively booting everything from older linux distros through SmartOS and solaris rebuilds, and just about everything else in between.

But the interesting responses, to me anyway, came from the folks with one particular distro in mind. They wanted everyone to conform to their view in that they believed the “enterpriseness” of their distro was a strong positive in their argument for one distro. Actually, its a strong negative, in that newer things that people want and need often don’t show up in it for years.

This point was driven home many times, but the people dug in.

I respect the viewpoints, and those making them, even if I disagree with them. CentOS and derivatives are no longer something anyone can ship in a commercial setting (seriously, read the sites fine print), which in part was the last nail in the coffin for us. Its very hard to add value to a system when you are not allowed to change a single bit (again read the fine print), never mind not being allowed to ship that system.

I view the OS or distro as a detail of the run or application. There are a set of distros that are based on Red Hat that make some of what we want to do very nearly impossible, and with the new copyright and licensing fine print, pushes the cost-benefit equation deep into the “look elsewhere” category. But for end users whom have an app that depends on a particular distro, use that distro. Use what you need to use. There is no one size fits all.

Use what makes the most sense. We do.

We have customers using SmartOS (OpenSolaris derived) to run their apps. We have customers using openstack. Customers using other bits. Use whatever reduces the friction from start of planning through execution.

I look at the OS/distro as a detail of what it is you need to accomplish your job. And whether or not to containerize/VMize it as an engineering decision on the part of the user/administrator. Not as an imposition from on high.

Because the ease with which people can move from service to service makes mandates like that very self defeating.

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