rPath Adds SUSE Linux to Its Appliance Builder Service
Published: April 29, 2008
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
Two years ago, a bunch of top level ex-employees from Red Hat that used to do coding, sales, and marketing got together to create a new software appliance creation and distribution system called rBuilder, a Linux called rPath Linux, and a company behind both called rPath. The idea of mass customization of Linux and related systems and application software stacks and of limiting the software appliances created by glorified build systems has taken off. Both the Fedora Project and openSUSE, the development arms of Red Hat and Novell, started talking about building virtual appliances soon thereafter.
None of this has diminished the enthusiasm of rPath, which planned to support a handful of Linux kernels in its rPath Linux distro and focus on getting applications into its repository. The point of rPath, as the company explained it two years ago, is to get away from the "matrix of pain" and have the repository, not some nerd sitting at a workstation, cope with the interdependencies of applications and Linux features as software is configured into an appliance and patched as necessary for security reasons, to exploit new hardware or whatever. The company started out with its own rPath Linux distribution that supported about 700 application packages in the rBuilder appliance making tool, and with rBuilder 3.0, launched in February 2007, supported virtual images in Xen (including Virtual Iron as well as the Xen), ESX Server, and VHD formats as well as on physical machines. At this time, rPath also launched a set of services called the rPath Appliance Program to help companies manage virtual appliances and positioned itself as a "virtual appliance lifecycle management" software maker.
Last week, rPath went one step further and decided that it would probably be a good idea to get a more standard Linux inside the rBuilder system, and to that end, it has inked an OEM deal with Novell that will allow rPath to create virtual appliances for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10. Obviously, any application that is certified to run on SLES 10 will be part of the rBuilder repository now, and Novell will supply rPath with all of its source code and subsequent patches under the deal. For its part, rPath gets to sell tech support for SLES 10 licenses it distributes as part of appliances, with Level 3 tech support coming from Novell and rPath, which again was founded by Red Hat tech experts, providing the customer-facing tech support.
Novell is obviously pleased with this coup, despite the fact that rPath is not a volume player and Red Hat clearly is. And for its part, Novell is ramping up its JEOS implementation of SLES 10 SP2 (short for Just Enough Operating System) for creating virtual appliances and has just started its own appliance effort. Now we know that rPath was part of this effort all along. But Novell is not going to put all of its eggs in the rPath basket, and if rPath is smart, it will endeavor to get an OEM agreement with Red Hat for Enterprise Linux 5 and maybe even Canonical for the latest Ubuntu release, 8.04 LTS.
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