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Stripped-down operating systems made specifically for virtual machine appliances have tickled the fancy of the Linux collective, and these types of systems are keeping commercial distributors busy pushing out their versions of the concept.

Last September at VMworld, Canonical unveiled Ubuntu JeOS — pronounced juice and short for "just enough operating system." The idea was to rip out general purpose software from the OS, leaving only a lightweight container that ISVs can customize for their particular application. This in theory makes an appliance smaller and more efficient in a virtual environment.

Novell has also recently rolled out the beta release of SUSE Linux Enterprise JeOS, as well as launching a program to support ISVs creating appliances using the platform.

SUSE Linux Enterprise JeOS uses the same code base as SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, making applications certified to run on Enterprise Server carry certification over to the JeOS platform. The OS is available in several virtual image formats, including VMware VMDK, Xen and later this year Microsoft VHD format after the release of Hyper-V.

The beta version of SUSE Linux Enterprise JeOS is available for download at Novell's website. A production version is scheduled for release later this year.

Novell also pledged to support the existing community-driven LimeJeOS project, a minimized version of openSUSE. That's available here.

Through its Appliance Program, Novell said it will collaborate with ISVs to develop technology necessary to better make applications in an virtual appliance format. Novell will begin releasing software components over the coming months, including an automated tool to build appliances.

Meanwhile at Red Hat

Since we're already in Linux country, it should be noted that Red Hat has issued a preview release of Fedora 9, the latest version of its "community" Linux distribution. Red Hat said the preview will be the last before the final product, which is expected to hit May 13th — two weeks later than originally planned.

The project's Wiki lists all the new major features as complete, including improvements to the Xen hypervisor, ext4 file system support and an upgrade to KDE 4.0.

The preview release is available now as a BitTorrent download, with a direct download planned later this week. ®

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