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

The project recently celebrated its one year birthday. Since our last major release in March the project picked up steam with weekly downloads increasing over 500% (we just flew past 60,000 downloads). Not bad for a new server oriented project. With all the goodies in this new release, and all the stuff we're working on for the next release, TurnKey Linux's second year should be even more interesting.

This release is a big one. Previously we tried "releasing early releasing often", but discovered we could get more done by batching certain phases of virtual appliance development and decided to give bigger release increments a try.

25 all new appliances

The last release worked out the basics in terms of virtual appliance engineering and usability, so the main focus of the current release was expanding our virtual appliance library with more of the best open source server applications.

The project has expanded it's virtual appliance library to include:

In other words, we mostly we created new TurnKey appliances for applications that were already packaged by Debian / Ubuntu and supported with regular security updates:

Unfortunately there is still quite a bit of excellent open source software that is not yet officially supported by Debian / Ubuntu.

Packaging these applications into a virtual appliance is technically more difficult, and worse - not all components would receive automatic security updates. We decided not to let that limit us. Striving for perfection is great, but an imperfect appliance is better than no appliance. This opens TurnKey Linux up to including:

Project specials

Not all appliances are created equal. For this release we've put extra effort into creating a handful of project "specials": virtual appliances that include a more complex integration of components working together as a solution to a particular usage scenario:

Native virtual appliance support

In addition to the installable Live CD ISO format, all appliances are now packaged in a standard virtual appliance format that can run directly on a virtual machine with no installation necessary.

The virtual appliance package includes:

  • A light version of VMWare tools
  • Hard disk images in VMDK format
  • OVF support

The package format is known to work on VMWare and VirtualBox.

Amazon EC2 support

It's now possible to launch TurnKey Linux appliances directly into Amazon's EC2 cloud. Amazon supports hourly billing which at $0.1/hour opens up a variety of interesting use cases.

For example, we've been using our own EC2SDK appliance to convert the virtual appliance library into EC2's AMI format. Thats a resource intensive process which would stress our current server infrastructure. EC2 is perfect for this because renting a beefy server from Amazon for a few hours is dirt cheap.

We've also been offloading much of our virtual appliance testing and development to the cloud and have launched a virtual army of virtual appliances. Total cost so far: $22.

If you run a virtual machine 24x7 things can get a bit more expensive. Ideally you could just turn off the virtual machine when you don't need it but unfortunately it's not that simple because when you terminate an instance you loose all the data on the instance.

To get around this we've developed support for Amazon EBS, which allows you to set up persistent storage volumes (with snapshotting support) which survive instance creation and termination. We've developed software that helps with the tricky part of getting the virtual appliance to save all its data to the EBS volume. It's not yet as easy to use as we would like but it works.

For more information, see our Amazon EC2 tutorial.

TurnKey Core improvements

We've made a few improvements to TurnKey Core, which have been inherited by all appliances:

  • upgraded to Ubuntu 8.04.3
  • SSH client is now optional: including web based AJAX shell (shellinabox)
  • bugfixes to custom components: configuration console, installer, etc.

Improvements to existing appliances

We didn't neglect our previous crop of virtual appliances either. We've taken the feedback you've all provided and used it to improve the existing appliances. For example:

  • TurnKey Ruby on Rails now includes Phusion passenger.
  • TurnKey Drupal bundled with an extended set of highly useful plugins.
  • TurnKey WordPress now bundles some of the most popular WordPress plugins and includes the latest version of WordPress which features an integrated upgrade mechanism. This way you get WordPress updates straight from WordPress's creator Automattic.

Some of our best ideas for new features and appliances come from our users. Keep em coming!


Though we've put many months of effort into making this release possible, we don't deserve all the credit. We're just walking the last mile, sorting the best stuff out and polishing things up for end users. The real heros are further up the chain. Open source works thanks to the tens of thousands of people who have collaborated tirelessly for many years now to produce a fantastic variety of excellent free software.

In no particular order, credit goes out to:

  • Everyone in the open source community who helped develop the software that makes up TurnKey Linux, especially the unsung Debian and Ubuntu developers who do most of the heavy lifting that makes this project possible.
  • Everyone in TurnKey's small community that provided feedback and ideas, manned the forums (JedMeister I'm looking at you!), spread the word and donated funding.
  • Our enlightened employer, which donated most of the project's development infrastructure and allows us to contribute to open source during office hours.
  • Pink Floyd for the background music.


Christian Reina, CISSP's picture

We are currently using your CORE VM to implement our OPEN VAS solution. I downloaded the older version yesterday, but since you have updated all to 8.04.3, I will be rebuilding the VM today.

Excellent work!

Liraz Siri's picture

Thanks for the encouragement Christian. It's great that you're building Open VAS solution based on TurnKey Core. Keep us updated on your progress. If it's an open source project, maybe there is some room also for collaboration in the future (e.g., another addition to the TurnKey virtual appliance library?)
Sean Tierney's picture


do we get a bullet point in your credits given that you've admitted we're the inspiration for your company and you continue to clone everything we do?  

hugs & kisses


Liraz Siri's picture


Thanks but calling TurnKey Linux's virtual appliance library an open source clone of your company's proprietary products is inaccurate. We do our own thing. Not that I think there's anything wrong with sharing good ideas. Nobody has a monopoly on those and I don't think users care about where a good idea came from first. But really, if it seems like we're "copying" your company's offerings that's mainly because there is a finite supply of open source projects that would make a good virtual appliance, and yes it won't be long before there are TurnKey versions of all of them.

If you must know, the true original inspiration for TurnKey Linux was actually rPath.  What you guys were doing never made sense to me - the final integration is a tiny percent of the work put into open source software. Why should that part be proprietary?

We figured it would be neat to take open source all the way to the end-user.


Chaim Krause's picture

I'm curious to know. Because if it is I will never use a JumpBox product and will suggest to others that ask me to do so as well.

But, as you can imagine, I don't want to take such drastic action if that was simply a faked troll post.

Liraz Siri's picture

It's hard to know anything for sure, but Occam's razor suggests that probably really is Sean:

  • According to Geo IP, the IP used to submit that comment is located in Arizona where Sean and his company are based.
  • It was one of the first comments, before we had a chance to spread the word. I know from a DM he sent me they watch us pretty closely (as you might expect).
  • I sent Sean a tweet about it. If it wasn't him he could have set the record straight and asked for it to be removed.
  • It doesn't mention his company name. I imagine a troll would be more explicit.

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck. I don't blame him though.

Thomas Goirand's picture

Man, how can you be so pretending as to say that you own the idea of appliances? This is a total nonsence. Also, SELLING some open source based software is quite disgusting. I will NEVER use jumpbox as I think it's really some bad spirit in action. Turnkey has the total opposite thinking, and their work is just great. And you know why? Turnkey is starting to get famous, while I nobody even heard about Jumpbox. You should start to ask yourself why...

Liraz Siri's picture

I personally don't think there is an ethical problem with selling open source software or a service based on open source software so long as you are abiding by the terms and spirit of the license. People need to make a living and building a business around open source software is a good way to ensure you have the resources to continue development.

OTOH, if 99.9% of your products are open source software, I think it's distasteful to build a business around that gift pool while locking that last 0.1% under a proprietary license. Open source shouldn't be a one way street.

Jeremy Davis's picture

40 new appliances (including 25 completely new ones) is a very impressive effort! I had to double take when I saw this!

I have developed a number of virtual servers (running in OpenVZ containers on my Proxmox server) to acheive the same ends as some of these appliances, but I'll have to try these out and see how they compare. At a glance they look brilliant. Any feedback, ideas etc. I'll post in the forums, but great work!

Looking forward to the next round of releases, hopefully see a TKL "Master Server" (think Proxmox) at some point in the future and also having the appliances available in OpenVZ template format!

PS Thanks for the mention

Hans Harder's picture

Just built a Subversion/Trac VMware instance from the Turnkey Core which works great.

I see lots of new interesting appliances which I am certainly gonna try out.

The preinstalled lightweight VMware Tools and vmdk images makes it even more easy to try things out.



Alon Swartz's picture

Thanks, let us know if you have any feedback.
Just curious, but did you try TurnKey Trac before rolling your own? Is there anything you would change?
Alex Cruz's picture


I've been a fan for some time. Downloaded Joombla and other appliances for testing in virtualbox on my laptop. My personal opinion which I share with family and friends used to be that TurnkeyLinux was very good.  Well, it turns out that is an understatement because your site is nothing short of great. Keep up the excellent work and this weekend I will download moodle and play awhile.

Keep up the great work!


Aymen Belkhiria's picture

Hi,its a great jobs, but why only Ubuntu? 


Liraz Siri's picture

We answer this question in the FAQ. Note that we are planning on adding support for Debian in the future. Other distributions will be technically more difficult but if we have sufficient resources I wouldn't take it off the table.
Ciro Laneve's picture

Congratulation for the great work! I am very excited about turnkey linux.

I am trying to install the turnkey joomla appliance in vsphere 4 but when starting it I have: "Device hard disk1 has a backing type that is not supported". Are turnkey linux appliances meant to run on vsphere 4? or it is just my so little knowledge about this field?


Liraz Siri's picture

Usually the support forum is the best place to ask these sort of questions.

Anyhow, vSphere might have special requirements. I'm not sure. We know it works fine with other VMWare products. For vSphere you may need to use VMWare's OVF conversion tool to get the appliances in the format it wants. Another option is to install from the ISO image. That always works.

Jose Gabriel 's picture

I am ussing your apps for testing in Ecuador...

Thank ou for helping people that are not handfull of technical skills... 

I just finished installing some enterprise Open Source proyects on top off the Turnkey core.  how Can I help ? How can I share?


Time and Time, after and after a while, I visit your site for no reason. Maybe it's because of your humanity. Really great inspiration piece of work !



Liraz Siri's picture

We like having you around too Leow! I remember telling my girlfriend this time last year that it was pretty neat having friendly people like you from the other side of the world who were interested in our little open source project.

Merry Christmas!

 In fact, just talked with mom about Israel is a great country with great people. There were some political historical news which I'm not going into details which touched my heart. It was about you guys helping a country here . . I'm not into political stuff but they were facts that you people have reached out to a nation of my origin. Goodness. And sorry for being late about Christmas, yes, Merry Christmas,... it's embarrassing that I am not sure when is our last day of Christmas? I remember it's still Christmas now. Am I right?. Anyway, wishing you great and may Christ be with you always. Amen. 




sethm's picture

Thanks so much for the appliances... just curious... any plans for a magento appliance?


Magento is a resource HOG... I'm wondering what the performance would be like on a dedicated vm appliance.

Thanks again!


Neil Aggarwal's picture

Performance on a VM depends on the resources it has allocated to it.  A VM should act pretty much like if you had those same resources on a dedicated physical machine.  Virtualization overhead is pretty small now since modern processors have hardware support for virtualization.

Liraz Siri's picture

We've had a few requests for a Magento appliance so I'm pretty confident it will be included in a future release batch, but we haven't gotten around to it yet. As usual, it would be a big help if someone who knew there way around Magento from the community pitched in to help (I.e., see our community development section).

As Neil mentions, performance shouldn't really be more of an issue in a well configured VM as opposed to a regular machine.

Adrian Perez's picture


Guys, you've made a wonderful job in here, with this appliances, which basically saves a lot of time to me and all net admins, without missing regular users which want to experiment/test/try with a software package installation.

The only thing I found annonying, although it has it's root reasons, is that most appliances include an http server and a mysql database server, which makes me unable to find a quick path for reusing our database server into each installation.

I know this isn't a high priority, but I'd rather for example:

a) let the user decide on installation where the database server is located (and of course, skipping packages), or if he wants to install a local one (currently the default and only option)

b) provide a quick part for schema and data migration into another server and package uninstallation.

Please consider this, I think it would be a serious contender in the enterprise if you allow to re-use infrastructure.

My best thoughts.

Neil Aggarwal's picture


I dont think TKL can cover all the use cases that are out there.  It has to have well-defined objectives for each appliance.

For your needs, I think it would be best to start from the Core appliance and build up from there.  Most packages (like Apache) are just an apt-get call to get them installed.


Liraz Siri's picture

Note that the idea behind TurnKey as Neil points out isn't to cover all possible use cases (that would be impossible) but to give a good starting point that covers the common usage scenarios. You can then tweak the system to your exact needs. If you need to use an external database, move your databases to a different machine, shut down the local database and reconfigure your application to use the external database.

If there is a good way to add support for enterprise features without adding too much complexity then that might be a great idea but sometimes when improve something along one dimension you make it worse in another.

Neil Aggarwal's picture

I also think appliances should be self-contained and simple. That is the strong value TKL gives. Giving people options that will confuse them will likely reduce that value.

David Knight's picture


I only found the site a few days ago when I was looking to compare Drupal or Joomla. With a VMWare server already running I was up and playing in a shot. Excellent, thanks so much for all the work put into this project, makes life so much easier. In fact when I needed to test AMQP today I just used the Core and installed on top of that, all running in less than 10 mins!

Thanks again.

- David

Ivica Dimitrijev's picture

Great work guys.

I googled my way here but it was worth the effort.

I have been searching some soho file server solutions and here I am. I have finaly started my file server and customizing it. Thanks.

Going to forum to ask if I can actually use this in production environment.

Jonas's picture


I have stumbled on a very impressive CMS called Silvestripe.

You could easily use the AMP applicance to run this.

In the future it would be nice if you made a unique appliance for Silverstripe, i recommend you to check it out!!

Keep the great work up, you really make life a lot easier and fun! :)

Alon Swartz's picture

You are not the first to request a SilverStripe appliance, so I created a blueprint to track its progress.

Depending on how involved you'd like to be, take a look at our community development documentation, there are lots of ways to contribute and help nudge TurnKey Linux in the direction you are interested in!
Rix's picture

Hi Alon,

I've just started working on TKLPatch for Silverstripe. It's been good so far like patching current appliance and or creating a bootable ISO, though there are still a couple of things that needs to be done. The patch is currently hosted at Github : https://github.com/rixrix/tklpatch-silverstripe

Things will be moving forward for this patch as most of my projects are Silverstripe-based.

Alon Swartz's picture

Unfortunately github is currently down for maintenance so I can't see the TKLPatch, but this will definitely help in getting silverstripe into part II of TurnKey 11. In the meantime, it would be great if you could create a new forum thread announcing the tklpatch as explained here, and pointing to the github repo.

Juan's picture

1st I want to thank you for the awesome work you guys are doing.  2nd I wanted to know if there was a place we could see maybe a list of possible upcoming appliances? 


Thanks Again!!

Neil Aggarwal's picture

You can take a look at the blueprints area:


and the development whiteboard:


Fidel Viegas's picture

Hi guys,

I have downloaded one of your appliances a while ago, but never had a chance to try it. I have downloaded your rails and openbravo appliances and tried them on vmware. I think you guys are doing a great job, and hope to see sometime soon an appliance for openerp and sugarcrm, which are two excellent softwares.

I hope you guys continue with the good work.

Well done!

All the best,


Dony's picture

Thank you, this work is great! great! i'm so happy, when i looked this site with this excellents appliances.


JohnnyMC's picture

ubuntu rocks ! i love linux, im gonna try out thank you !

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