TurnKey Linux Virtual Appliance Library

Using git and rsync to synchronize changes on a staging box to a live server

The problem: working on a live web site is a bad idea

Anyone who's ever worked on a sufficiently complex web site knows it's a bad idea to work directly on the live server hosting the site for a couple of important reasons:

  1. It's disruptive to visitors: If - sorry when you break something - your visitors are going to be exposed to it. Nothing creates a bad impression faster than a broken web site.
  2. Fear is stressful, stress kills productivity: you know if you mess around too much with the web site there's a good chance you'll break it. Naturally you don't want this to happen so your mind becomes preoccupied with the fear of making mistakes, and its hard to focus on what needs to be done.

We develop this web site and test all non-trivial changes in a local TurnKey Drupal instance running inside a virtual machine. This means we can experiment and screw things up with no consequences. I find removing that source of stress makes you much happier and more productive as a web developer.

Working like this raises a few practical questions though:

  • How do you push changes from the development box used for staging to the live web site without accidentally overwriting changes made by someone else?
  • How do you track who changed what?
  • When you screw things up on your development box, how do you reset the changes you've made and start again?

 

Exploring S3 based filesystems S3FS and S3Backer

In the last couple of days I've been researching Amazon S3 based filesystems, to figure out if maybe we could integrate that into an easy to use backup solution for TurnKey Linux appliances.

Note that S3 could only be a part of the solution. It wouldn't be a good idea to rely exclusively on S3 based automatic backups because of the problematic security architecture it creates. If an attacker compromises your server, he can easily compromise and subvert or destroy any S3 based automatic backups. That's bad news.

Blogging - it's about time we started

I always figured I would have to try out this blogging "fad" some time in the future. It just never really seemed like the right time to start. Well now we're in 2010 which sounds a lot like the future to the kid in me, so I guess it's time to get our act together and go for it. So yes, it's finally going to happen. The blogging apocalypse is upon us!

Of course, there's a bit more than pure whim involved. Every time Alon and I have a nice long chat about the project blogging (or our lack of) comes up and it seems like such a good idea.

2009.10 release: 40 appliances with VMDK and Amazon EC2 support

We're proud to announce the 2009.10 release batch featuring:

  • 25 new additions to the TurnKey Linux virtual appliance library
  • Added native virtual appliance packaging (OVF support included)
  • Amazon EC2 support, with EBS persistence
  • Core improvements: Ajax web shell, upgraded to Ubuntu 8.04.3

TurnKey Linux to relaunch as TurnKey Windows

Update: Hope you got a little chuckle out of our April Fools prank. It was obvious if you read the whole thing. Unfortunately, some of the responses we received indicate some people didn't realize it was a joke! Probably because they only read the beginning and didn't get to the funny bits. We also changed the front page. If you missed it,  you can still see it here.

SEOUL Apr. 1, 2009 In a keynote address at the 2009 Federated Assembly of Korean Engineers, Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer announced a broad business and technical collaboration agreement with the open source project formerly known as TurnKey Linux to build, market and support a series of TurnKey Windows software appliances, based on the upcoming Windows 7 operating system.

12 new appliances released

We just finished updating the site for our most exciting and ambitious batch of releases yet. The 2009.02 release, based on Ubuntu 8.04.2 LTS, features extensive improvements to usability, security and stability. We've done a terrific amount of quality assurance on our end and blocked the release until we had resolved every single bug and issue we found.

New releases feature dramatic usability improvements

Since our initial release a few weeks ago, we've been busy working the kinks out of our current crop of appliances.

Our main focus has been to try and figure out how to dramatically improve the usability of the handful of appliances we have released so that they appeal to a much wider audience (e.g., not everybody likes mucking around with the command line).

New versions of the Lamp, Joomla and Drupal appliances now feature:

Cast your vote

Developer resources are always limited, so to help us focus and prioritize our efforts we've created a voting section on the web site that should make it easier for users to share their views on what matters the most.

We're interested in feedback from the community on issues such as Ubuntu vs. Debian, which virtual machine targets we should support, 64bit support, etc.

Check it out, every vote counts!

Time to get this show on the road...

"Build it and they will come". Or so they say. After a busy couple of weeks we are hopefully ready to launch and see if that really works.

As a first step, we are releasing just a handful of proof of concept beta appliances which will be gradually improved and expanded as we receive more ideas, feedback and support from the community (that means you!).