OpenStack's top operating system: Ubuntu Linux

OpenStack's top operating system: Ubuntu Linux

Summary: Lots of operating systems run on the OpenStack cloud, but Ubuntu Linux is most users' favorite.


While digging into the last OpenStack User Survey, I found that Ubuntu Linux was the most popular OpenStack operating system.

Ubuntu in the clouds
Ubuntu is the top operating system in the OpenStack cloud.

No matter if users had dozens, or thousands, of CPU cores in their cloud, most preferrred Ubuntu. It was followed by the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) clone CentOS, which is now part of the Red Hat family, and then RHEL itself. At the end of the herd, was Windows, Debian, openSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES).

According to Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, Ubuntu's parent company, 55 percent of OpenStack operating systems are on Ubuntu, "a stark contrast with the 10 percent of OpenStack deployments on RHEL." 

This isn't too surprising. Ubuntu has made a point of working closely with OpenStack. Although most people think of Ubuntu as just a desktop operating system with designs on becoming a smartphone power, it has also long been a major cloud player.

Indeed, Ubuntu has its own Development/Operations (DevOps) cloud programming platform in Juju, which works at a higher level than Chef and Puppet, the two most popular DevOps programs.

Chef and Puppet are meant to automate server configuration, and are used to set up virtual cloud servers so that each instance is an identical software configuration and is running the correct services. Juju, on the other hand, is meant to manage services, not machines. This makes Juju very attractive to high-level cloud administrators.

Shuttleworth wrote in a blog that when it comes to OpenStack:

Our focus is on supporting the development of OpenStack, supporting the broadest range of vendors who want to offer OpenStack solutions, components and services, and enabling a large ecosystem to accelerate the adoption of OpenStack in their markets.

It’s a point of pride for us that you can get an OpenStack cloud built on Ubuntu from just about every participant in the OpenStack ecosystem – Dell, HP, Mirantis, and many more – we think the healthiest approach is for us to ensure that people have great choices when it comes to their cloud solution.

To make sure those choices work with Ubuntu, Canonical opened its own OpenStack Interoperability Lab in November 2013. There, Canonical partners work with numerous OpenStack supporters to make sure both Ubuntu and Juju work with everyone else's OpenStack compatible software and hardware.

Looking ahead to the next release of Ubuntu, Ubuntu 14.04, Trusty Tahr, Shuttleworth said,

We take the needs of OpenStack developers very seriously – for 14.04 LTS, our upcoming bi-annual enterprise release, a significant part of our product requirements were driven by the goal of supporting large-scale enterprise deployments of OpenStack with high availability as a baseline. Our partners like HP, who run one of the largest OpenStack public cloud offerings, invest heavily in OpenStack’s CI [continuous integration] and test capabilities, ensuring that OpenStack on Ubuntu is of high quality for anybody who chooses the same base platform.

Ultimately the goal is to make money from OpenStack. Shuttleworth stated, "For commercial support of OpenStack, we are happy for industry to engage either with our partners who can provide local talent combined with an escalation path to Canonical for Level 3 support of the whole solution, or directly with Canonical if the circumstances warrant it."

Of course Canonical isn't the only major Linux company with that as a goal. Red Hat also wants to be OpenStack commercial users' operating system of choice. SUSE is also building its cloud plans around OpenStack.

Related Stories:

Topics: Cloud, Enterprise Software, Linux, Open Source, Ubuntu

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  • OpenStack's top operating system: Ubuntu Linux

    Great job to the OpenStack and Ubuntu Teams.
  • Ubuntu, really?

    A fine desktop focused distribution, but not the most server centric Linux distro available, by any means. What an odd choice....
    • Why do you say that? What's your personal involvement supporting that?

      Just curious, are you just walking into the "internet echo chamber", or do you have substantive reasons for saying that?
      • I second this request

        "Why do you say that? What's your personal involvement supporting that?"
        Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Ridiculous statement

      Not the most server centric Linux distro? Ubuntu has a server edition. It's quite popular on AWS, Azure and elsewhere. Desktop is not all they do.
    • RE: What an odd choice

      Actually some of the biggest websites, i.e. Wikipedia, is using Ubuntu server...

      Why would it be odd ?
    • Not most Centric haha

      Ubuntu will stay major player over RHEL in cloud> Ubuntu is used in many places as in Robotics, to name few of many> Lockheel Martin, NASA, Google's driverless car. A Quote from Tech Article>"The use of Ubuntu in certain sectors is no longer notable or exceptional but the norm." A Mac cannot touch Ubuntu features!
    • Mac_PC_FenceSitter: "Ubuntu, really?"

      "A fine desktop ..., but not the most server centric"

      Gee, Mac_PC_FenceSitter, one could easily be referring to OS X Server available on Mac Minis and Mac Pros. Even Microsoft offers a core server option nowadays.

      Both Debian and, more recently, Ubuntu have been used as servers for a long time now. And with no GUI (read X.Org and desktop environment installed by default). *Long* before Microsoft came out with its core server product.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Ubuntu makes sense for now

    Given that Ubuntu was the only functional choice for openstack at first, and EL wasn't really viable until last year, it's not surprising. Now that redhat is supporting openstack and you can deploy it on redhat now, and redhat is a major contributor, I expect RedHat EL or at least it's clones (Centos, Scientific) to be the top spot in a couple of years.
    John Lauro
    • Ubuntu Bigger in Cloud

      Ubuntu will stay major player over RHEL in cloud> Ubuntu is used in many places as in Robotics, to name few of many> Lockheel Martin, NASA, Google's driverless car. A Quote from Tech Article>"The use of Ubuntu in certain sectors is no longer notable or exceptional but the norm."
  • RHEL

    I run both Ubuntu and RHEL/Centos like servers, and I prefer RHEL. I find it was easier to configure in VirtualBox and didn't break. I had plenty of trouble with Ubuntu and gave up with VirtualBox. I also run it in the AWS EC2 Cloud. I find updating it is easier (yum is amazing) although apt isn't bad. I had to change the default shell away from dash. I'm also more used to using the RHEL like OS's. For those using Ubuntu I recommend to give RHEL a try. I was going to convert all Deb/ Ubuntu servers to RHEL but I guess I'll hang on to them, see how things play out. It may soon be my new favourite as things progress :)
    Radomir Wojcik
    • RHEL & Ubuntu

      I've used RHEL and CentOS for many years, and before that many different flavors of both Linux and Unix. Very recently I've started using Ubuntu. RHEL/CentOS feels much more like a good old-fashioned Unix OS - things in general work the way I expect them to - in particular you get the feeling that RHEL knows it is a cli-driven OS, with an optional gui front-end. On the other hand, Ubuntu tries to hide its cli roots and it tries to make everything primarily graphical - which is reasonable, considering that it's trying to be a MS-Windows replacement.

      And yes, Ubuntu was the platform-of-choice for Openstack development, but now RH is pushing hard - I'd also expect RHEL/CentOS to overtake Openstack in the coming year or so.
    • Ubuntu and Virtalbox

      Don't know what you did wrong but I nave never hac Ubuntu break in Virtualbox and it does much better that Red Hat on any level!
  • ubuntu operating system

    quite a nice article on ubuntu.
    helped me a lot over the topic.

    to read more on UBUNTU operatig system you may also visit the following link.
    must have a look.