The virtual-appliance ecosystem is poised to become a little larger in the near future as TurnKey Linux prepares a new release, which will sport new features while also doubling the size of the TurnKey appliance library.  And that's good news for VARs interested in easily deployable, open-source solutions for their needs in the cloud and elsewhere.  Read on for details.

TurnKey, of course, is an open-source project that builds virtual appliances for deployment on physical machines, virtual machines and in the cloud.  The images are based on Ubuntu Linux, though Debian is also supported, and work with a variety of virtualization infrastructures.

Currently, TurnKey's library includes forty appliances ranging from a standard LAMP stack to a Zimbra server.  But the upcoming 11.0 release of TurnKey will double that number, thanks to the contributions submitted for an appliance-development contest that the project announced last summer.

But wait!

That's not all.  Beyond the introduction of a new suite of virtual appliances, TurnKey's upcoming release will include a number of other notable features, including but not limited to:
  • An upgrade from Ubuntu 8.04 to Ubuntu 10.04 as the base distribution for TurnKey's appliances.  This only makes sense: although Ubuntu 8.04 server edition still has several years of life remaining, 10.04 is Ubuntu's latest longterm support (LTS) release, and the upgrade will allow TurnKey to support a more up-to-date software stack.
  • Use of logical volume management (LVM) by default.  The great features made possible by LVM are too numerous to list here, but for starters, this will make it easier to modify storage settings for appliances once they've been installed.
  • Integration with TurnKey's TKLBAM system for backing up and restoring appliances.
Though it's not exactly tied to the new release, another fact of note, mentioned on the TurnKey blog, is the promise that delivery of TurnKey images through the Ubuntu Image Store will soon become easier.  We'll keep our eyes on this change as it develops.

Why It Matters

The market that TurnKey targets may be a relatively specialized one, but it's also full of competition.  Most of the other serious players, however, are commercial companies focused on closed code.  TurnKey, therefore, stands (almost) alone in delivering virtual appliances that are tightly integrated within the open-source ecosystem, and which don't depend on proprietary software that restricts the way in which they can be deployed.

From a VAR's perspective, that might not always be a good thing: TurnKey may not be the ideal solution for organizations that need particular proprietary software.

But in a majority of cases, TurnKey makes it easy to deploy a wide range of virtual appliances while also preserving flexibility.  The project's tight commitment to security is also a plus.

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