TurnKey 12.1 is out and it's the first 64-bit maintenance release to be built with tkldev - TurnKey's shiny new open appliance build system in a box.
With 64-bit support out the door, we've also pushed out a round of updates to the Hub so that users can finally deploy TurnKey on all instance sizes.
Full details on the changes to the Hub below, but first I'd like to talk a little bit about tkldev, TurnKey's new open build system. tkldev will soon be released as a standalone appliance along with the full source code to all appliances in the TurnKey Linux roster, which we will be maintaining on TurnKey's GitHub page.
tkldev: why a new build system?
As many of you know, in a bid to ease up TurnKey's dependency on the core development team, one our of strategic development goals has been to re-engineer the messy patchwork of scripts and build systems that used to be our build infrastructure with the goal of creating a self-contained "fabrication" appliance that could be used by appliance hackers to build any TurnKey appliance from source code.
We've actually had this in our sights for quite a while now. We made some bad technical decisions early on with regards to how we setup our "legacy" build infrastructure and realized a bit too late that we would have to redo everything if we wanted to get the open source community truly on board with TurnKey's development.
With everything on our plate (e.g., developing over a hundred appliances and the TurnKey Hub) it sometimes feel like we're running in place. So it's taken longer than we would have liked to make this happen. But... with a great sigh, no - heave - of relief I can proudly announce that work is finally done. Well almost. We just need to finish up the packaging and documentation.
We've been battle testing the new build system by using it to develop the upcoming TurnKey 13 release, based on Debian Wheezy, and also the TurnKey 12.1 maintenance release which I'm supposed to be announcing.
As usual, I seem to be getting a little bit ahead of myself, so let me try to get back on track.
What's new in TurnKey 12.1
64-bit (amd64) is the new default image type
Download links on the website have been replaced with 64-bit images. For users that prefer 32-bit images, they are still available for download from Sourceforge and our mirror network.
Core operating system upgrade
Upgraded base operating system from Debian Squeeze 6.0.5 to Debian Squeeze 6.0.7.
Debian Squeeze is scheduled to be maintained with security updates until May 2014.
Upgraded all non-Debian Core components (e.g., Webmin 1.620)
Bugfixes and tweaks
For full details see the TurnKey Core changelog.
Fresh upstream application versions
This maintenance release includes the latest software versions for all components installed directly from upstream source code rather than the Debian package management system.
The exact details of the package version installed from upstream source code can usually be found in the appliance changelog, except where the version is determined at build time.
This includes the latest upstream versions of the main application in the following 71 appliances (from a to z):
appengine-go, appengine-java, appengine-python, appflower, b2evolution, bambooinvoice, cakephp, canvas, clipbucket, codeigniter, collabtive, concrete5, deki, django, drupal7, e107, elgg, etherpad, ezpublish, gallery, gitlab, icescrum, jenkins, joomla15, joomla25, limesurvey, magento, mambo, mibew, moodle, nodejs, omeka, openphoto, orangehrm, oscommerce, osqa, owncloud, phplist, phpnuke, phreedom, piwik, pligg, plone, prestashop, processmaker, projectpier, punbb, rails, redmine, sahana-eden, sencha, silverstripe, simpleinvoices, simplemachines, sitracker, statusnet, sugarcrm, symfony, tomatocart, tracks, twiki, typo3, ushahidi, vanilla, vtiger, web2py, wordpress, xoops, yiiframework, zencart, and zurmo.
In case you're wondering, the other 30 appliances in this release didn't get the very latest upstream version of their main application because all the major components are installed and maintained through the Debian package management system:
asp-net-apache, bugzilla, core, couchdb, dokuwiki, domain-controller, drupal6, ejabberd, fileserver, lamp, lapp, lighttpd-php-fastcgi, mahara, mantis, mediawiki, moinmoin, mongodb, movabletype, mysql, nginx-php-fastcgi, openldap, otrs, phpbb, postgresql, revision-control, roundup, tomcat, tomcat-apache, torrentserver, and trac.
The trade-off is that while the component versions may be less up-to-date, Debian provides back-ported security fixes which TurnKey automatically installs.
This is a new feature that should make life easier for users of our headless OpenStack, Xen and OpenVZ builds.
A common problem with headless deployments of TurnKey is that turnkey-init, TurnKey's initialization wizard, can't be run on the first boot because we don't have a console that can interact with the user to properly configure the appliance (e.g., setup application and database passwords, domain name, etc.)
This typically results in frustrated users failing to understand why an uninitialized appliance doesn't seem to be working at all or complaining that they can't figure out how to log in.
The usual solution is to set a bunch of default passwords and hope users, who rarely bother (or want to bother) reading the documentation, will manage to change all of them before they get exploited.
But even when this approach sorta kinda works, having to figure out all the default passwords and rush to change them is inconvenient.
Worse, default passwords are dangerous, especially for anything connected to the Internet. They open up a window of vulnerability that can allow an attacker to compromise the system by racing to exploit your default passwords before you change them. Throw in botnets automatically scanning the network for low hanging fruit and you have a recipe for catastrophe.
TurnKey's solution to this conundrum is to leverage iptables to create a sort of virtual fence around an appliance. The fence intercepts attempts to access potentially vulnerable uninitialized applications, redirecting users instead to a mini-tutorial explaining how you need to log in as root first. On an uninitialized appliance logging in as root will automatically launch turnkey-init and help you finish setting everything up.
Introducing 64-bit images, phasing out 32-bit appliances
So why waste any time on a TurnKey 12 maintenance release (e.g., based on Debian Squeeze) when Debian Wheezy has already been released?
Basically, TurnKey 12.1 is a stepping stone for the upcoming TurnKey 13 release.
We'll be deprecating 32-bit support in TurnKey 13 and phasing it out completely by TurnKey 14. That means we'll be building all appliances in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions for TurnKey 13 but encouraging users to migrate to 64-bit because TurnKey 13 will most likely be the last major TurnKey release to come in both 32-bit and 64-bit image formats.
To make it easier for users to migrate from 32-bit to 64-bit we decided it would be a good idea to add 64-bit support to a maintenance release of TurnKey 12, the current major version of TurnKey.
That way existing users don't have to switch to a new major version of Debian while switching the operating system architecture at the same time.
Another reason we decided to bother with a maintenance release release now is that it made it easier to focus on testing the new infrastructure. Pinning down one thing that doesn't change (e.g., the base operating system + appliance roster) makes it easier to identify and work out the kinks in the pieces that have changed.
TurnKey Hub updates
Support for all instance sizes: with 64-bit support out the door, the Hub now supports all instance sizes, paving the way for using TurnKey for more heavy duty workloads.
Significant cost savings with new heavy / light reserved instances
Up until now the Hub has only supported Medium Utilization type reservations. When we added support for reserved instances this was the only type of reservation available but Amazon have since added Light and Heavy Utilization type reservations.
To help Hub users save significantly more money, especially when running larger instance sizes, we've added support for these types of reservations as well.
Light Utilization reservations have a lower up-front purchase price than a Medium Utilization reservation but also a lower discount on usage fees. Heavy Utilization reservations have the highest up-front purchase price but provide greater discounts for continuously running servers.
For example, you can save up to 76% (over $8000) of total costs when running an X-Large High-RAM instance continuously in the Amazon EC2 cloud if you purchase a Heavy Type reservation for three years.
Purchasing a reserved instance is the Amazon EC2 equivalent of purchasing your own co-located server hardware, just with a bit more flexibility.
The Hub provides an interactive cost savings calculator in the reserved instance dialog that shows the up-front fee, new hourly fee, break-even utilization level and expected cost savings for a continuously run server.
Deploy TurnKey in a cloud down under
Some of our most important community members live in Australia so we're especially pleased to announce support for Amazon's new Sydney region.
New cloud servers plans & pricing
No hassle, free Micro support for everyone.
You no longer have to invite anyone, sign up for a time-limited free trial, etc.. New Hub users can now immediately launch any TurnKey app as a Micro instance.
New Amazon accounts automatically qualify for Amazon's free usage tier which provides up to 750 hours of Micro server usage each month for up to a year.
Budget => Bronze: The "Budget" plan has been renamed "Bronze".
New supported instance size: Medium (64-bit only)
Previously only Micro, Small and Medium High-CPU instance types were supported on this plan.
Defaults to deploying 64-bit appliances on all instance types but allows you to choose 32-bit appliances if you want (e.g., backwards compatibility, increased memory efficiency). The upcoming TurnKey 13 release will also provide support for 32-bit appliances, but the next release after that, TurnKey 14, probably won't.
Hobby => Pay-per-use: The Hobby plan has been renamed Pay-per-use.
Supports deploying any S3-backed instance size, including all of the new large and x-large 64-bit only instance sizes.
Users that signed up to what we used to call the Hobby plan should receive an email from Amazon in the next few days detailing a price change which will come into effect two weeks later: we'll be dropping the markup on usage fees from 15% to 10% and adding a $10 monthly fee.
We aren't too happy about having to change the pricing structure of what was formerly the Hobby plan. Unfortunately, in the wake of a series of steady price reductions in instance usage fees this plan has gone from bringing in a small amount of revenue, to barely covering costs, to actually costing us money. This happens because Amazon's billing system (AKA DevPay) charges us a small fixed fee per user that signs up. It used to be that the markup on usage fees covered this cost but now users with significant usage do the math and just sign up for a flat-rate plan.
Instructions for canceling or switching to another plan are available on the Hub. See Account Details in your Hub account's EC2 account page.
Added three new flat-rate plans (e.g., Silver, Gold, and Platinum)
Other than the support for larger instance sizes, the plans are similar to Bronze: a single flat-rate monthly fee allows you to deploy an unlimited number of instances with no markup on the standard Amazon EC2 usage fees.
Current Bronze users that want to deploy larger instance sizes can upgrade seamlessly to one of the new plans by clicking "Switch Plan" on the new cloud plans and pricing page:
Vote for TurnKey on SourceForge's project of the month ballot
TurnKey is a candidate for Sourceforge's June 2013 project of the month. If you like the work we're doing take a few seconds to vote for us:
I'm no fan of demagogues and empty campaign promises, so rest assured I mean it when I promise that if you vote for us I vow, on my honor and the honor of my ancestors, to continue slaving away on TurnKey for as long as it takes to win our heroic, epic battle against the evil forces of entropy.
So vote! For TurnKey! For open source changelogs you can believe in! With your vote, together, we will create a party of superb open source software so powerful it will... WE will... repeal the oppressive laws of thermodynamics! Yes! For a better tomorrow!