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Linux appliance distro rev’d

May 19, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

rPath is shipping a new version of its Linux distribution for hardware and software appliances, live CDs, and VMware images. rPath Linux 2 offers a smaller footprint than version 1, as well as a more robust system boot, a brandable boot splash, new security features, and an “appliance installer,” says rPath.

rPath Linux is a specialized Linux distribution designed for use by ISVs (independent software vendors) wishing to deliver their products as pre-installed hardware appliances, or as “software appliances.” The latter are pre-configured Linux server stacks suitable for installation by users on real or virtual commodity hardware.

Building on the company's motto of “Just Enough OS,” rPath Linux 2 offers a smaller footprint than version 1, says rPath, with a pre-built appliance filesystem image about half as large, and a kernel that is two-thirds as large. Larger, more complete images are also available for text-based and graphical development.

Touted new features in rPath Linux 2.0 include:

  • Brandable Boot Splash — A new customizable graphical boot process does not require the X Window system, and therefore “uses very little disk space,” says rPath.
  • New security mechanisms — Runtime security measures have been added to most packages, including “stack protector” and “FORTIFY_SOURCE”.
  • Robust system boot — rPath has made syslinux the default bootloader, touting it as being well-maintained, highly extensible, easily branded, and offering safe and reliable automatic updates.
  • Appliance installer — This new option streamlines the process of installing appliance software on systems, and is said to require less memory than the previous package-based installation mechanism, which is still available.

rPath also offers an rBuilder development tool, for those with more extensive customization needs. It aims to help users build their own Linux appliance stacks assembled not only from rPath Linux packages, but also from “loosly connected repositories” such as Linux distribution mirrors and concurrent versioning systems.

rPath was founded in 2006, by Eric Troan, former Red Hat CTO, and Michael K. Johnson and Matt Wilson. The three are known for inventing Conary, the flexible package management system used in both rPath Linux and rBuilder.

rPath Linux is used by Digium's Linux-based, GPL-licensed AsteriskNow software appliance for open-source IP PBX applications. rPath says its “software appliance” approach simplifies and speeds up installation, freeing users from the complexities of installing and maintaining Linux, while facilitating remote management.


rPath Linux 2 is available now. More information may be available on this rPath page, as well as on this blog on

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