Talos Systems today made available a beta release of its Talos operating system (OS) optimized to run Kubernetes clusters.
Company CEO Timothy Gerla says unlike other lightweight distributions of Linux, Talos OS is built from the ground up to expose application programming interfaces (APIs) that address Kubernetes requirements. Features found in traditional Linux distributions, such as the SSH remote login, have all been stripped out because the OS is managed via APIs, says Gerla.
In addition to minimizing the compute resources required to run an operating system, Gerla notes that a smaller OS also provides the added cybersecurity benefit of reducing the size of that attack surface that needs to be defended.
In development for the past two years, Talos OS is designed to support rolling upgrades and can be deployed on either Intel or Arm processors, Gerla says.
Talos Systems also announced it has joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and is participating in the Certified Kubernetes Program. The company was founded in 2019 by Andrew Rynhard, Brad Beam and Gerla, who was a co-founder of Ansible Inc.
Beginning with Docker containers and now Kubernetes, many of the functions that were once handled by operating systems are now being managed outside the operating system to ensure portability. As that transition continues, many organizations have shifted to more lightweight instances of operating systems such as the ones developed by CoreOS, Rancher Labs and others. Gerla says Talos Systems takes that concept a step further by delivering a lightweight operating system that is completely API driven versus merely a stripped-down instance of an existing Linux distribution.
IT organizations should also expect to see Talos Systems to leverage those APIs to deliver a range of systems management tools, says Gerla.
It’s unclear right now to what degree lighter-weight operating systems will be deployed in the cloud versus on-premises IT environments based on virtual machines. But as organizations work to shrink the stack of software that Kubernetes is deployed on, it’s only a matter of time before lightweight operating systems are more commonly deployed on bare-metal or any number of emerging approaches to isolate containers that don’t rely on traditional virtual machines to run a guest operating system.
Gerla says he expects the shift to these lighter-weight stacks of software to be driven initially by developers working for startup companies before eventually being embraced by traditional IT organizations.
Of course, most organizations will soon find themselves running a mix of different classes of operating systems as they embrace cloud-native applications alongside those legacy applications that run on earlier generations of operating systems. The rate at which the transition to a new generation of operating systems is likely to be determined by how quickly an organization embraces containers and Kubernetes.
In the meantime, the days when lots of compute resources needed to be allocated to the operating system finally may be coming to a merciful end.