Rancher Labs Adds OS Optimized for Kubernetes

Rancher Labs has made available a beta release of a lightweight operating system on which it envisions IT organizations will deploy its previously announced lightweight instance of Kubernetes dubbed k3s.

Company CEO Sheng Liang says the main goal is to make it more convenient for IT organizations to use the same set of tools to deploy an instance of Kubernetes along with a k3OS operating system based on the open source Ubuntu kernel. Rancher Labs doesn’t envision IT organizations replacing instances of Linux that have already been deployed in with k3OS, but in circumstances where there has been no operating system standard set, k3OS should provide a more frictionless deployment option, he says.

In fact, Liang notes the ability to deploy and update Kubernetes and the operating system it runs on from within the same user interface to access a common set of YAML files should be especially appealing to IT organizations that have embraced best DevOps processes to deliver ongoing rolling upgrades to their IT environments.

The k3OS operating system is designed to boot in 10 seconds, while a Cloud-init utility enables automatic configuration of k3s Kubernetes clusters during the boot sequence. Essential system services such as ssh, udev, bash and iptables are built into the distribution image so no separate package manager is required. k3OS currently runs on x86 servers, but support for Arm processors, which are widely deployed in internet of things (IoT) environments, has been promised soon.

In general, Liang says interest in a lighter-weight k3s distribution of Kubernetes has exceeded the company’s expectations. Initially, Liang says Rancher Labs assumed that most of the interest in k3s would come from organizations deploying workloads at the network edge involving, for example, IoT environments. But since k3s was launched last February, adoption is spanning everything from developers looking to install a lightweight instance of Kubernetes on their laptops, for application development, to data centers, where the density of the environment is a critical issue.

As Kubernetes and containers continue to gain traction the role of the operating systems. Many of the tasks that were once the province of the operating system are now being handled at a higher level of abstraction. That shift makes it possible for IT organizations to deploy lighter-weight instance of operating systems that not only consume fewer IT infrastructure resources, but also reduce the size of the attack surface that needs to be defended at the operating system level.

It’s too early to say how to what degree the management of Kubernetes and operating systems will converge. But as IT operations teams become more involved in managing Kubernetes, the level of interest in streamlining the lifecycle process associated with both platforms is likely to increase.

In the meantime, organizations that are looking to deploy Kubernetes in greenfield environments might not care what the underlying operating system is as long as it’s the one that is easiest to install and update over an extended period of time.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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