Do you ever wish you didn't have to port your application and test it on several different operating systems? Are you intrigued with the simplicity of "hardware appliances" like NetApp filers and the Google Search Appliance but don't want to get in the business of selling hardware? rPath would like you to consider bundling your programs into a "software appliance" that can be installed on almost any x86 type of machine (real or virtual). At Linux World today they announced rBuilder 2.0, a bundler that will combine your software plus a trimmed down version of Linux into a package that can be installed on hardware your users already own.
One early adopter of this technology is Ingres, which announced Project Icebreaker today. Instead of installing and maintaining an operating system, and then installing and maintaining a database on top of that, IT installs the single solution that includes O/S and application. The O/S used becomes invisible. Project Icebreaker is all open source, so there is no up-front license fee to get things running. Of course, Ingres would like you to buy one of their maintenance subscriptions, but that's your choice.
Bundling an operating system might take a while to get your head around, but it makes sense for many complex applications. Installing and configuring enterprise software is not for the faint of heart, and neither is keeping it up to date and administering it. If rPath can simplify and streamline this process as they claim then this could be a big win both for customers and software vendors.