Ask us anything

We're going to be doing a series of interviews with prominent TurnKey community members so we figured it would make sense to do an interview with the founders of TurnKey (that's us!).

Interviewing ourselves is a bit weird, so instead we're inviting the TurnKey community to propose the questions which we'll answer in a separate blog post.

So... ask us anything!


John Kees's picture

I really like the interviews on usesthis, so that would be a good start.

These are the questions asked:

  • Who are you, and what do you do?
  • What hardware are you using?
  • And what software?
  • What would be you dream setup?

In addition:

  • Why did you start the TurnKey project?
  • How do you make a living? Is it possible to live on beer money?

That's it for now, I'll post back if I think of anything else...

EricS's picture

  • What deployment methods other than Amazon can we expect?
  • How about an appliance to run other appliances via Xen, VirtualBox, etc?
  • Any thoughts on OpenVZ appliances?
  • Any thoughts on live backup and/or redundancy from within the appliances?
Adrian Moya's picture

* From which part of the world are you?

* Why tklpatch-apply-overlay before tklpatch-apply-conf? Wouldn't make sense to apply overlay last and dont have to --oldconf debs?

* What about non-english community? (I got nice ideas for this!)

* Do you live of TKL or is a spare time project? 

* Do you have a date for TKL 10.04 final? 

* Prefered mobile phone?

* Hobbies when not working on tkl? 

Alon Swartz's picture

We'll be answering all questions as I mentioned below, but your TKLPatch question is important and needs an answer.

The conf is applied last as it provides you with more power, for example:

  • You could include a tarball in the overlay, and use the conf to unpack, install and configure it.
  • You could overlay a package configuration file and then in the conf reconfigure the package which would use the overlayed configuration file.

Also, don't forget about the advanced configuration hook scripts which provides a powerful interface to support any use case, for example:

  • Installing dependencies or preseeding of custom debs (pre-debs)
  • Tweaking the debs installation after installation (post-debs)
  • Installing packages and customizing them prior to applying the overlay (pre-overlay)
  • Tweaking after the overlay is applied (post-overlay - equivalent to the simple conf)

I hope this answers your question.

Andy Fitz's picture

What do you folks think about it?*


[*] i am asking this in my individual/human capacity and this question has absolutely nothing to do with my employer. I have really loved using turnkey images on virtualbox for rapid prototyping over the years.

Jonathan-David Schröder's picture

what has been the most difficult part in your Turn Key Linux development learning curve ?

what is still taking you the most pain when developing for Turn Key Linux ?

Have you worked with other solutions/frameworks similar to TKL ? If so, why do your prefer one or the other.

What are you looking forward the most regarding your TKL (or other) project development, out of TKL or other open source projects that you are contributing/following ?

Jeremy Davis's picture

Are there any other behind-the-scenes TKL devs (that we don't see/hear about on the forums)?

How many PCs do you regularly use? Do you have more than one PC at home? Do you prefer Laptops or Desktops?

What is your preferred OS and why? Or if that's too difficult; What OS are you running on your (main) personal PC ATM and why? Assuming you at least sometimes use a Linux desktop OS, what is your preferred desktop (Gnome, KDE, etc) and why?

Do you run any proprietry OSs (eg Win or OSX) anywhere? If you don't, do you think that its important to test things using MS & Mac OSs? (Especially seeing as they form the majority of the platforms used by the public).

What OSs do your wives/girlfriends/partners/family/close friends/whatever (circle what's relevant) use/prefer? And did you influence that choice and/or what's your responce? Are you a fully blown evangelist that preaches to your friends and family or do you just keep plugging away? Or do you just pretty much keep it to yourself?

How much do you support open source by your personal purchases? In other words do own proprietry gadgets such as iProducts etc.?

(Similar to q's already asked) Do you spend much personal time on TKL? Are you and/or your employer making much money out of TKL yet? Do you think you'll ever make much out of it?

Codehead's picture

If you could have one return trip in a time machine, which historical person or event would you most like to visit and why?

Adrian Moya's picture

Have you ever had a discussion or different points of view about which way should TKL project go? divergences between you two? how did you resolve them? 

jgab's picture

Which was your first computer? Commodore 64, Atari ...

Alon Swartz's picture

These are great questions, and we'll answer all of them. Not sure if we will be able to fit it all into one blog post, but I'm sure we'll come up with something creative.

If you still have questions, we're still listening....

llaurén's picture


First a giant hats-off-and-hooray! for the TKL cadre and your efforts. Extremely nifty. I thought that should be mentioned.

And then a question. I just yesterday realized that Amazon has a Micro Instance option at a mere one cents an hour for a downsized machine:

"Micro Instance 613 MB of memory, up to 2 ECUs (for short periodic bursts), EBS storage only, 32-bit or 64-bit platform" (source)

Is it possible/feasible to deploy an equally downsized TKL appliance, say the Jeos or that base appliance all other appliances are built upon?



Jeremy Davis's picture

I have many TKL VMs running with 256-512MB RAM and have no issues. Some do require more though (such as Zibra, etc). It all depends on what you are trying to do. Eg if you want to host a basic html website you could probably do that with 128-256MB RAM TKL LAMP. I'd test in a local VM and see how it goes.

llaurén's picture

OK then! Micros ahead! The reason i was asking was not only because i am che--- frugal, but because i'd like a cheaper-than-dirt way to experiment with the TKL hub and your images, so as to Be Prepared when the day comes and i'll need to do this on Billable Time.

At this stage, i must correct my self because the Micro Instances were at two cents an hour, not one cent. I was so sure they were less when i looked but when i looked back, reality caught up :)

Anyways, the Turnkey Hub currently only seems to support Small and Medium instance sizes, so that means i'll have to DIY a wee bit to get it on the EC2. Which Fine Piece of Documentation do you suggest i hit over my head until it helps?

So far all virtual machines i've worked on were either on iron i could touch, with the notable exception of one Ubuntu i managed to instantiate on EC2 by following newb-compliant documentation. I don't suppose vmWare vSphere will support EC2 migration for a while...

ubu ubu,


Liraz Siri's picture

At 8 cents an hour for a small instance, you're not exactly breaking the bank. We do all of our experimentation on EC2 and the bill is just a few dollars a month. It's very affordable when you don't run many machines full time.

Also note that TKLBAM makes it easy to fire up a machine, tweak it, save its state and then terminate the instance. You can restore the backup when you want to recreate the instance and continue your experimentations. You'll be hard pressed to tell the difference from the original instance and the new one.

vSphere may not support EC2 migration, but TKLBAM does. That's what its designed for! It doesn't care where your appliance is running. I suggest you read up on the documentation and then experiment to learn more.

Try it!

Liraz Siri's picture

They have many special restrictions. That means we can't just add another instance type to the Hub and be done with it. We'll need to add some special logic for this. I won't bore you with the details except to confirm that we are going to be supporting them right after the Lucid release, which we're pushing out as fast as possible. An updated Beta of Core will come out first, then betas of the existing appliances, then betas of the new appliances. We'll let the community test it a bit, then if there are no showblockers we'll update the web site, the Hub and post an official announcement on the blog.

David Killingsworth's picture

Any update on Micro instances?  I would like to use a turnkeylinux appliance on a micro instance for trac.  We won't use it for much, just trac and a software repository.



Alon Swartz's picture

I don't have an exact ETA, but it is high on our todo list. Once we push out the 11.0 (Lucid builds) we'll be able to come up for some air and create our post-lucid workplan. Micro instances is something that has been requested often (not to mention we want to use them ourselves), so we'd like to support them sooner than later.

Erez's picture


Sorry to ask the same questions other has asked before me, but since we are already 6 weeks since the last update I hoped there might be a change.


Liraz Siri's picture

I would have hoped there would be a change too but unfortunately we've had our hands full pushing out part 1 of the release, working on part 2 which will double the size of the library, getting the hub out of beta, refreshing the web site, and so forth and so on. When you have so much to do, the weeks really fly by. There's easily enough work for ten and we're only a couple of guys. OTOH, it would be hard to provide so much for free (or practically) if there were 10 mouths to feed.
David Killingsworth's picture

Thanks for the support and hard work that you are putting into TKL.

I am impressed with your service and our TKL image (and the backup service).


I would like to provide a different angle for you.  We have spun up a TKL Trac image.  We use it for issue reporting and bug tracking with our developers.

We have received our first bill and it's about $78 USD (including the 10% for TKL services).  We have another Amazon instance running that we are running from a public AMI (free) that is costing about $71 USD a month.  On this server, we run Drupal and is where our main development work currently is hosted and receives alot of use and is very important to us.  Both are "Small" instances.

I received a question from my management this week as to why our Trac server, which gets barely used comparatively, is costing a bit more than our main development server, and what else we could run on the Trac server.

I explained the value of TKL and the backup management and the time it saved us when we built the server in not having to configure all of the software on it.

I don't believe my management would have given me so much hassle about this, if we were running on a micro instance.

I'm not complaining to you, just providing some food for thought.

Liraz Siri's picture

Thanks for explaining how this looks from your end. Let me try to explain how this looks from over here. If micro instances worked the same way as small instances I assure you they would have been supported a few days after they came out. Unfortunately, Amazon have decided that micro instances must be booted from EBS. Moreover micro instances are currently incompatible with the DevPay program TurnKey uses to add that 10% premium to usage fees.

In other words:

  1. The 130 AMIs we have in all three regions will not work with micro instances. We'll need to upload a new batch of AMIs.
  2. We'll need to develop and test new logic into the Hub to support EBS backed instances.
  3. TurnKey wouldn't get even 10% of the minor fees you pay for a micro-instance and at least in the short-term we expect this to reduce usage as users who are currently using a small instance migrate.

When micro instances were originally introduced I didn't understand these limitations, but after Amazon introduced the free tier it all made sense.

Despite the difficulties in supporting micro instances, and despite the negative financial incentive, it really is high on our Hub todo list because we'd like to support anything that makes TurnKey easier for users to try out.

We're kind of hopelessly idealistic that way. It's one of the advantages of being an open source project. We don't have to justify ourselves to the accounting department and we don't look at things in terms of how much money it will make, but how much value it will provide to users and if it's good for the project in the long term.

But realistically, that does currently limit the amount of resources we can put into the project.

We believe TurnKey will eventually scale enough to support expanding the team but in the meantime we're stuck doing the best we can with what we have. That can be frustrating sometimes because we have such big plans for TurnKey. Believe me we're just as anxious as our users to get there already.

Erez's picture


Thank you for the detailed response. I totally understand where you are coming from, and truly appreciate the service that you provide.

to reinforce your point. I'm about to launch a new website, and I can't justify to go with a small server, and I'm going to use the free micro server at this point. 
While I won't be a paying customer of yours at this point and time - I hope to grow and expand the number and size of servers I use.

The fact that you don't have a micro instance solution at this point, made me choose an option that is less good for me, and reduced the chances that I'll become a customer in the future as I will already have worked with another solution.

I would have been very happy if I could be your customer :-)

Liraz Siri's picture

See the announcement. Thanks to everyone on this forum thread who threw in their two cents!
llaurén's picture

In the spirit of ubuntu, thank you for the pointers and clarifications. I always appreciate the posibility to de-newb myself :)

ubu ubu,


Prodosh's picture

S3 buckets have a maximum bucket size of something like 5GB. 

Does TKLBAM handle a backup of say 12GB by automatically spreading it across 3 buckets?

Thanks for a very interesting service.

Alon Swartz's picture

The limitation you are referring to is the object (I.e., file) size, which has an upper limit of 5GB. The buckets themselves have no limitation. 

TKLBAM splits the data it backs up into volumes, which by default is 50MB.

Mukhthar Ahmed's picture


How about releasing a turnkey project for video hosting and sharing sites there are 2 or 3 opensource free scripts eg: This needs ffmpeg, lame and other codecs which needs to be complied. So its is little to zero difficulty in setting up one, looking at wordpress turnkey project.



Mukhthr Ahmed

Liraz Siri's picture

I think this is a great idea but you may be underestimating the effort involved to put something like this together and test that everything works. I would be delighted however if you proved me wrong and produced a working TKLPatch  in short order. It might even make it into the next release.

Adrian Moya's picture

But here it is. Please if you can test it and give some feedback, comments are welcome! (feedback on the proper thread please)

L. Arnold's picture

Wondering really how to expand a Turnkey Domain Controller (Samba Image) under VMware.  I am 99% sure I set up the VMWare Partition to be "flexible" (whatever their term is)...  I also was trying to accept "modifiable" partition size when the Ap was installed from IsoImabe (v11.1).

Any quick tips for taking my 30gb to 60gb in 3 simple steps?

thanks in advance.

L. Arnold

Jeremy Davis's picture

but I'm sure you'd find something online to help you out with that.

OTOH another way of acheiving a similar end would be to create an additional vHDD and mount it where most of the 'growing' data is.

JohnP's picture

Since TurnKey 11, LVM is used by default, so you can just add another VM disk, and extend the "root" volume to use it.

See here for more details. You could probably do it via webmin, though I've never tried.

Lastly, I'd make a backup using TKLBAM before you do anything just in case.

Jeremy Davis's picture

Nice work John, thats a much better idea. That didn't even occur to me. Nice solution!

L. Arnold's picture

I will study the LVM link in detail.  Very helpful!

I am thinking, though, that perhaps I can just resize the partition in VMWare and it will telegraph through to the Ubuntu LVM image.

You are right to run tklbam first though.

For sure VMWare Standalone Converter can move a build to a Bigger Image, just takes a while.

If this can go smoothly will be really nice for working our way out out of our small MS Domain.  (Should have built a Bigger Partition to begin with, but this will be a good experience)-- 

We need a "Partition Magic" Graphical interface for TKL.

L. Arnold's picture

It was easy to increase the size of the Drive in VMware.  However, increaing the size of the partition is a little Daunting for me.

I thought I could by pass this by downoading the ISO of gparted  (graphical partition editor for Linux), but as it wants to "boot" something in the setup wont allow TKL to Boot from CD after first install.

Thoughts on how to proceed.  The Underlying disk is not 128gb rather than 30gb, but my disk has 30 GB written to it now and I can't even run TKLBAM.  (I can take info off but that is not my goal).

Converter wont seem to give me a new Partition size  - only a new drive size (that said, I will try that again).

Perhaps I could run GParted from within WebMin or SSH.  Anyone know how to do that? Thanks in advance.

(sorry to have posted here, but the title said "Ask us Anything"...  should really move this to support Forums.)

Jeremy Davis's picture

but my understanding is that now you have increased the disk size you will need to expand the volume (using LVM). AFAIK you need to use the LVM commandline tools. I don't think GParted handles LVM volumes.

L. Arnold's picture

I can expand the "extended" partition with GParted .  Unfortunately, no Go on LVM w/ Gparted (they imply it is coming soon).  So I seem to need a different tool.  I couldn't make my way through the command line possibilities w/ lvextend. 

For now doing a new Install, and will copy the files across then delete the old install.  Not pretty but will work.

(I guess I was racing you to the "save" button on this comment)  Edits always slow me down.

Jeremy Davis's picture

and it was really easy (although I can't remember exactly what I did but it was a single command, lvextend or something I think? Found a tutorial via google). I don't think that's quite the same scenario as what you created though (I added a physical HDD to the volume, whereas you are extending a volume on a single virtual HDD).

Bridget's picture


Is it possible to migrate from a MW 1.15.x on a windows server platform to TKMW? How easy / doable is this?

Do i need to upgrade to MW 1.16.x and php 5.3 first before migrating? Any other tips?

TIA for any help!

kind regards


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