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AMD and Canonical team up on a new hardware partnership

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September 17, 2014

Ubuntu Linux vendor Canonical and AMD have announced this morning a new hardware partnership that will see the two firms prepare an OpenStack-in-a-rack solution that will compete directly with Red Hat.

To be sure, Canonical is quite excited on the news, having revealed earlier this year the 'Orange Box' portable cluster.

That small unit packs ten micro-servers into a portable luggable unit intended to offer a cluster of Ubuntu-powered Hadoop, OpenStack or CloudFoundry system.

The new system is based on AMD's SeaMicro SM-15000 server, a product that uses either AMD's Opteron, Ivy Bridge or Haswell Xeon processors, then packs them into a 10U package with up to 512 cores, 5 PB of storage and 160 gigabits of total I/O capability.

Overall, buyers will also get version Ubuntu LTS 14.04 (LTS: long term support) and OpenStack, assembled to provide the following:

  • 3 Cloud Controllers
  • 57 Nova nodes
  • 3 Cinder nodes
  • 64 TB Object Storage
  • 128 GbE NICs (Max. 512)
  • Integrated Layer 2 Switching
  • 80 Gbps I/O
  • On the software side, users will find Ubuntu LTS 14.04, Ubuntu Server, OpenStack, MAAS and Juju ready to start working together as a complete system.

    There's also a graphical user interface to dynamically deploy new services on demand.

    That inclusion means that this effort can probably be filed under “hyperconverged infrastructure,” a segment in which AMD and Canonical will find vivid competition.

    VMware is already there, plus a few partners and new ones that have just arrived and the likes of Simplivity are making waves.

    Scale Computing has a couple of years' success to point to, while newbie NIMBOXX last week told us that it is struggling to meet demand from U.S. clients and hopes to ramp up to offshore sales real soon now.

    Then, throw in the fact that Gartner recently included hyperconverged elements on its list of things that might give the data centre market a run for its money and it's pretty clear that there's probably room for even more players.

    We've yet to see a Hyper-V based entrant but Microsoft is seeking a patent for a server design. If it joins in, things will become even a bit more complicated.

    In other Linux and open source news

    You'll be happy to know that Linux and open-source project group The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is now funding its projects with Bitcoins. The US-based non-profit organization says it’s received so far 5.35915909 in Bitcoins, or just over $2,600, in just 48 hours after saying it would accept the virtual currency.

    The ASF says it decided to accept the eCurrency in response to an email request on August 26.

    “Accepting Bitcoins allows donors to the Apache Software Foundation the benefit of digital currency exchange no matter where they reside,” ASF said in a statement.

    Founded in 1999, Apache is home to the very popular HTTP Apache Server. Since then, its empire has expanded dramatically to encompass more than 200 other open-source projects and initiatives for the Unix and Linux community.

    ASF is a registered U.S. non-profit organization that relies on voluntary donations and sponsorships to keep running.

    Sponsors include Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Hewlett-Packard, Huawei, IBM and several others.

    The ASF accepts cash, checks, electronic funds transfer, PayPal, vehicle donations and - now - Bitcoin.

    ASF is coming a bit late to the much-hyped currency. Bitcoin was pretty much last year’s bubble, a hit with coffee-shop hipsters who believed they could change national monetary systems.

    The high point in 2013 was speculation as to whether Bitcoins could become a viable currency along side the dollar, followed by the crushing collapse of the MtGox exchange.

    With so many headlines, it was inevitable that many organizations would hope to win some free ink by announcing that they too were now accepting Bitcoin.

    Naturally, this isn't the case with Apache, they are simply responding to requests. Since then, the suits have started getting involved: banks are considering whether to accept Bitcoin, eBay is reported to be considering its use while Dell in July started a pilot program letting customers pay for their gear using the cryptocurrency.

    In other Linux and open source community news

    A co-founder of the widely-used IMAP email server Dovecot has outlined his three rules for open source success, and that's something that the open source community can certainly relate to in a big way.

    “The first rule is don't sell your company to Oracle if you want to keep your product alive,” he told World Hosting Day in Singapore yesterday.

    “The second rule is again, don't sell your company to Oracle.” Linnanmaki's remarks were, of course, made in reference to Oracle's acquisition of MySQL, a transaction he feels was a “fiasco” but has turned out “not that bad because the only one suffering is Oracle.”

    To say that Linnanmaki doesn't like Oracle is an understatement. Which brings us to his third law, namely that the open source community routes around obstacles and re-groups on the other side.

    “Most of the main MySQL developers are doing MariaDB based on the open source version of MySQL,” he observed. “The community is moving to MariaDB. They are back on the good side.”

    Linnanmäki wasn't just taking a swipe at Oracle or extolling the virtues of open source. Dovecot is open source, a large number of telcos and hosting operators are among its many users.

    He says it runs on about 2.7 million servers and operates hundreds of millions of mailboxes. The MySQL situation is therefore of interest to its users.

    Linnanmäki said users need not worry that Dovecot will befall the same fate as MySQL. For one thing, it's not for sale. Author Timo Sirainen is also just 32, has plenty of plans for the tool and the company's management team have no plans to head for the beach.

    And even if they do, or the software became a bit boring, Linnanmäki is confident the open source community would build on Dovecot.

    Meanwhile, the Dovecot program is keen to build on Google's recently-announced decision to permit access to data within Gmail inboxes without needing to have IMAP present in client software.

    Linnanmäki said he feels this approach “makes sense” and that Dovecot has dabbled with similar approaches in the past.

    The team will therefore tweak its servers to allow Google's new APIs to work. “We will be supporting this evolution of access to email”, Linnanmäki said.

    The co-founder also had some unkind words – and a familiar dose of bad news – for conventional array vendors. Dovecot can run natively inside AWS or Azure, or use those services' cloud storage facilities, a feature he feels is critical for service providers.

    Linnanmäki cited the case of a Dutch Dovecot service provider who wished to greatly increase the size of the mailboxes it offered to users. During the scoping process, the service provider found that the cost of maintenance alone for new NetApp arrays more than covered the cost of migrating away from old arrays to a cloudy replacement, and the operations of the new system.

    “If you do storage with NFS and appliances, your email services will not be very profitable,” Linnanmäki said.

    In other open source and Linux news

    The Linux Foundation said earlier this morning that it has introduced two new certification programs aimed at connecting companies and prospective recruiters with qualified Linux system administrators and engineers.

    "The supply of labor in the Linux community has been far outpaced by the overall demand for the Linux operating system," said Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin, addressing the audience at the annual LinuxCon event in Chicago.

    "In the past three years, Linux has grown faster than any other computer or server operating system in the history of the IT industry and the supply of labor just isn't keeping up with it."

    Zemlin pointed out to a recent study commissioned by the Linux Foundation in which 93 percent of IT managers said they were looking for Linux talent, yet 90 percent said it was very difficult to find the qualified candidates.

    The Linux Foundation already provides Linux training in various forms, including white papers, online courses and other similar programs.

    Zemlin said one introductory online Linux course the Foundation co-created with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has enrolled 250,000 students so far. But a lot more is needed, he added.

    With the launch of the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) and Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE) programs, the group will now offer employers a way to verify that prospective hires have the proper skills they need.

    "When you take and pass the Foundation's exams you can really prove that you know what you're doing," Zemlin said.

    But while other organizations have offered Linux certification in the past, the Linux Foundation's approach is different in that Linux professionals can become certified from anywhere in the world, with exams conducted entirely online. Enrollees need never travel to a testing center.

    The certification exams require an internet connection, a web browser, a microphone, and a webcam, but they are entirely performance-based.

    Rather than solving multiple-choice problems or answering trick questions, as Zemlin put it, exam-takers are asked to complete real-world tasks with a time limit.

    At launch, enrollees can take the certification exams on their choice of three Linux distributions, including CentOS, OpenSuse and Ubuntu.

    However, neither Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) nor derivatives like Fedora are included in the program so far.

    Candidates who pass the exams will be issued a graphical emblem to display on their CVs, websites, LinkedIn pages, or other job-search tools.

    As an added bonus for LinuxCon attendees, the Linux Foundation issued everyone at the Chicago event coupons entitling them to one free chance at the Linux certification.

    Certification ordinarily costs $300, but for a limited time the Linux Foundation is offering a discounted rate of $50 for the first 500 people to sign up for the exams.

    The group said that it plans to announce additional discounts and promotions via its official training Twitter feed.

    In other Linux and IT news

    Red Hat derivative 'The CentOS Project' has announced the general availability of Linux CentOS version 7, the first release of the free distribution based on the source code for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.

    It's also the first major CentOS release to ship since the CentOS Project entered into a new funding and co-development partnership with Red Hat in January of this year.

    Because CentOS ver. 7 is built from the freely available RHEL 7 source code tree, its feature set closely mirrors that of Red Hat's latest operating system, which shipped last month after a six-month beta period.

    "CentOS conforms fully with Red Hat's redistribution policy and aims to have full functional compatibility with the upstream product," the OS release notes explain.

    "CentOS mainly changes packages to remove Red Hat's branding and artwork," it added. Like RHEL 7, CentOS-7 is now powered by version 3.10 of the Linux kernel, with advanced support for Linux Containers and XFS as the default file system.

    It's also the first version of CentOS to include the system D management engine, the firewalld dynamic firewall system, and the GRUB2 boot loader.

    Additionally, the default Java Development Kit has been upgraded to OpenJDK-7, and the system now ships with Open VMWare Tools and 3D graphics drivers out of the box.

    Also like RHEL 7, this is the first version of CentOS that claims to offer an in-place upgrade path.

    Eventually, users will be able to migrate from CentOS-6.5 to CentOS-7 without reformatting their systems, but unfortunately, the tools needed to achieve this are still being tested and won't be made available until a later date.

    For this release, the CentOS team launched a new build process, in which the entire distribution is built from code hosted at the CentOS Project's own Git repository.

    Source code packages (SRPMs) are created as a side-effect of the build cycle, however, and will be hosted on the main CentOS download servers alongside the corresponding binary packages.

    "For the CentOS-7 build and release process we adopted a very open process," CentOS contributor Karanbir Singh said in a mailing list post announcing the release.

    "The output of the entire buildsystem is made available, as it's built, at We hope to continue with that process for the life of CentOS-7, and attempt bringing CentOS-5 and CentOS-6 builds into the same system," he added.

    Click here to order the best deal on a HP enterprise dedicated server and at a great price.

    Disc images of CentOS-7 – including separate builds for the Gnome and KDE desktops, a live CD image, and a network-installable version – are available beginning on Monday from the main CentOS download site and via BitTorrent.

    Plans are already underway to also make the OS available in other forms in the near future, including Docker images; images for major cloud vendors, including Amazon, Google, HP, and RackSpace; images for use with on-premises cloud platforms such as OpenStack and Eucalyptus; and possibly an image for doing a minimal install.

    In other Linux and IT news

    This week's most recent release of the Top 500 list of supercomputers reveals to us what many had already suspected: that the Linux operating system almost dominates all systems when it comes to super computing and complex math applications. Not only does Linux power all of the top ten machines on the June 2014 list, including China's winning Tianhe-2 supercomputing node, which stole the show once again with its performance of 33.86 Petaflop/second on the Linpack benchmark, but it also now accounts for a full 97.2 percent of the full set of 500.

    A mere fifteen supercomputers on the list do not use Linux, including 12 using Unix and just two using Windows.

    In June 2013, Linux's share of the Top 500 was 95.2 percent. At this rate, it's only natural to speculate that Linux could claim a full 100 percent very soon.

    Other highlights from this latest Top 500 list include a new entry in the No. 10 spot-- a 3.14 Pflop/s Cray XC-30 installed at an undisclosed U.S. government site, and an increase in the total combined performance of all 500 systems to 274 Pflop/s, up from 250 Pflop/s six months ago and 223 Pflop/s one year ago.

    A full 37 systems on the list now offer performance greater than one Pflop/s, compared with just 31 six months ago.

    Yet, while there's still some performance growth going on, these days it's not happening at the same rapid rate that it used to be, the Top 500 list creators noted.

    Source: Canonical.

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