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Distributed Linux OS wizards CoreOS release first commercial product

VCs fling $8m at FOSS OS that updates like a browser

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A company with a mad plan to right the wrongs perpetrated on the world by traditional operating systems has released its first commercial product after taking in $8m in venture capital funding.

CoreOS made the commercial version of its CoreOS open source operating system available for sale on Monday, before relaxing on a cushion infused with $8m in Series A cash from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

The tech represents a big bet by the company that traditional Linux distributions have grown fat and unwieldy and are no longer suited for some of the cloud environments they get deployed in.

CoreOS is a stripped-down version of Linux that has been built for massive server deployments. The tech uses three key technologies: etcd, a distributed key-value store that helps tie clusters of CoreOS machines together; Docker, which packages up apps and run them as containers while automatically configuring the network; and systemd, which helps developers command a cluster of CoreOS machines as though they are one system.

Another thing that sets CoreOS apart from other operating systems is how the company hopes to keep the OS up to date: by updating it automatically for its users in the same way that browser makers like Google and Mozilla regularly update their products.

"CoreOS minimizes the complexity of an update by compartmentalizing each entity that normally needs to be updated: the operating system, application code, and simple configuration values," the company explains. "CoreOS updates are consistent because they rely on active-passive root partition scheme. We update the entire OS as a single unit, instead of package by package. Release channels are used to provide a healthy balance of stability and new features. For further control, update strategies can be configured per cluster."

This means CoreOS users get access to the most up-to-date version of the OS, but it also means they have to put not only their trust but the brains of their own computers in the hands of another company. That can be a tricky proposition for some.

To help fix that, CoreOS launched a commercial variant on Monday called the "Managed Linux service level." This tech lets companies manage the update process themselves at a cost of around $500 or $1,000 per server, per year, depending on how much support they want. By forking over the cash to the company, they'll get access to a "a hosted dashboard for full control of rolling updates; and FastPatch – stress-free patches and updates," CoreOS explained in a press release.

The company's chief executive, Alex Polvi, told El Reg the firm is calling this "OS-as-a-service" – and after the red mist induced in this hack by such terms receded, we congratulated him on the money and the service.

"We have a super reliable, stable platform that companies can arbitrarily scale out," Polvi said. We wish him luck. ®

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