Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Olivier Huynh Van, Derek Weeks, Stackify Blog, Automic Blog, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Linux Containers, Open Source Cloud

Linux Containers: Article

Nitix Linux Operating System - Debate Between Open Source and Microsoft

Self-healing open source for the small business

There is a new facet in the debate between open source and Microsoft, pitting the flexibility of open source against the tight integration of Microsoft technologies. One camp claims that integration is the key for ease-of-use and consequent cost-savings from reduced administration while the open source advocates are preaching the virtues of flexibility.

Nitix OS, a Linux distribution made by Net Integration Technologies, may actually be able to assuage both camps. Nitix OS facilitates tight integration of network services made possible by the flexibility of Linux open source architecture to provide a comprehensive SMB solution. Net Integration Technologies (www.nitix.com) is a developer of software and networking hardware solutions that are based on their Nitix Linux operating system, which is geared toward helping small businesses manage IT infrastructure.

Nitix has been steadily collecting plaudits for their efforts in providing high-quality, full-featured infrastructure solutions for the small and medium business. Headquartered in Markham, Canada, Nitix was established in 1997 and since then they have built a reseller program that boasts over 1,000 partners and over a quarter of a million end users. Their advantage over other types of software is their autonomic technology and tightly controlled code base where changes in one system or service will be adjusted appropriately in another. For example, the addition of an e-mail server will adjust firewall rules appropriately through the use of their unified configuration system. Nitix CEO, Ozzy Papic, frequently mentions the successes of Red Hat in enterprise Linux but, in the scope of things, Red Hat seems to be focused on the large enterprise while Nitix offers the greatest value to the other end of the spectrum, businesses with less than 100 employees. A Nitix operating system can be deployed in as little as 15 minutes preinstalled on a Net Integration appliance and can be administered with limited human interaction due to self-healing and auto-configuration capabilities. However, this is not a do-it-yourself project; they offer their products through a channel of value-added resellers who do the installation on behalf of the customer.

Technology
Nitix Linux is not based on any other Linux distributions as many others are; it's built from scratch with a very small and tightly managed core operating system that is about 25 megabytes in size. Since it's so tiny, the Nitix development staff can track every bit of code but at the cost of not having common tools like Perl, says Nitix chief scientist Avery Pennarun. It's not extensible but, with their release of the Nitix Application Edition (Nitix AE), they even answer that objection by allowing you to run additional applications or operating systems in segregated sandboxes. Rather than taking a fully virtual machine approach that requires the addition of more kernels and an operating system that may gobble up system resources, Nitix's tactic it to run additional applications that are very similar to the way Linux administrators run chrooted processes or the way BSD runs programs in a secure jail. Guest operating systems are executed as a subprocess of the operating system so other operating systems like Red Hat could be executed in a guest environment provided by the host Nitix server.

Nitix boots in a three-stage process that starts by booting the Linux kernel, then a root disk with minimal driver support, and finally a user disk. This keeps things nicely separated so that the core operating system can be distinct from the user space applications. In addition, this segregated approach makes recovery and upgrades easy: a new operating system update is downloaded and then booted without replacing the last image so in the event of a failed upgrade, rollback to the last known working configuration is painless.

Besides being highly available and easily updated, Nitix benefits from an autonomic engine that allows the server to run with very little human interaction. Rather than storing configurations individually, the autonomic engine pulls configurations from Uniconf (http://open.nit.ca/wiki/?page=UniConf), which is a system-wide configuration system that has plug-in front ends and back ends to allow cacheable strings to be pulled into the configurations for each service. The decisions to manage these interactions among servers and configurations on the system are handled by Nitix autonomic technology that is self-managing using Net Integrator's Net Intelligence. Net Intelligence enables the Nitix-powered server to discover other network information around it. It can make decisions like detecting the need for DHCP to be installed. It also can discern if its connection is secured by a firewall and, if not, activate its own. Not only can Nitix OS protect the network from malevolent traffic, it can also react to malicious changes and overwrite system changes enacted by a virus or a worm.

Product Overview
Built on top of the Nitix OS is a variety of services that are executed and integrated and complement each other. These include file and print services, mail and calendar, and the amenities that we have come to expect of these services like antivirus and antispam technologies. Developed by Nitix, ExchangeIt! is an e-mail and collaboration server that supplies e-mail and provides users with schedule sharing, group calendaring, meeting invitations, and the ability to share contact lists, task lists, notes and folders. For remote access there is TunnelVision, an intelligent Virtual Private Network solution that according to Nitix is fully automated with a 10 second installation per site. It provides automatic route discovery and propagation across the VPN. In addition, Nitix delivers automatic mapping of WIN workstation names to the DNS table. It also works without static Internet IP addresses. The uniqueness of the TunnelVision is that it can discover the other servers and build a VPN network without the need for a skilled security administrator. In addition to the back office infrastructure, Nitix delivers a desktop computing, Expression Desktop, a zero set-up, zero maintenance, developed for a desktop user that is familiar with a Microsoft Windows environment. Pennarun describes Expression Desktop as a fat-thin client solution though, using the vernacular of Shaolin Microsystems (www.shaolinmicro.com), it might be considered more of a "fit client" solution. Besides their initiatives for their own product, Net Integration is also working to certify ISVs to host their applications on the Nitix OS, giving them a broad range of task-specific applications.

Summary
Nitix is a novel approach to the Linux server, blending self-healing capabilities and integration of services to make it a complete Linux server operating system that can address the needs of most SMBs. Nitix also provides the flexibility to expand on their offering through their recently released Nitix AE. They also are giving back to the open source community should they decide to take them up on their offer by making some of their product source code available throughout their OpenNit Web site: www.open.nit.ca/.

More Stories By Mark R. Hinkle

Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Soure Solutions at Citrix. He also is along-time open source expert and advocate. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. Hinkle is also the author of the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration" (Thomson, 2006). His blog on open source, technology, and new media can be found at http://www.socializedsoftware.com.

Comments (3) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
LinuxWorld News Desk 10/19/05 11:39:04 AM EDT

Nitix Linux Operating System - Debate Between Open Source and Microsoft. There is a new facet in the debate between open source and Microsoft, pitting the flexibility of open source against the tight integration of Microsoft technologies. One camp claims that integration is the key for ease-of-use and consequent cost-savings from reduced administration while the open source advocates are preaching the virtues of flexibility.

Enterprise Open Source Magazine News Desk 10/15/05 12:28:37 PM EDT

Nitix Linux Operating System - Debate Between Open Source and Microsoft. There is a new facet in the debate between open source and Microsoft, pitting the flexibility of open source against the tight integration of Microsoft technologies. One camp claims that integration is the key for ease-of-use and consequent cost-savings from reduced administration while the open source advocates are preaching the virtues of flexibility.

Enterprise Open Source Magazine News Desk 10/15/05 11:39:35 AM EDT

Debate Between Open Source and Microsoft - Nitix Linux Operating System. There is a new facet in the debate between open source and Microsoft, pitting the flexibility of open source against the tight integration of Microsoft technologies. One camp claims that integration is the key for ease-of-use and consequent cost-savings from reduced administration while the open source advocates are preaching the virtues of flexibility.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Things are changing so quickly in IoT that it would take a wizard to predict which ecosystem will gain the most traction. In order for IoT to reach its potential, smart devices must be able to work together. Today, there are a slew of interoperability standards being promoted by big names to make this happen: HomeKit, Brillo and Alljoyn. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, will review what happens when smart devices don’t work togethe...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Auditwerx will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Auditwerx specializes in SOC 1, SOC 2, and SOC 3 attestation services throughout the U.S. and Canada. As a division of Carr, Riggs & Ingram (CRI), one of the top 20 largest CPA firms nationally, you can expect the resources, skills, and experience of a much larger firm combined with the accessibility and attent...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), will provide an overview of various initiatives to certifiy the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldw...
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" ...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
My team embarked on building a data lake for our sales and marketing data to better understand customer journeys. This required building a hybrid data pipeline to connect our cloud CRM with the new Hadoop Data Lake. One challenge is that IT was not in a position to provide support until we proved value and marketing did not have the experience, so we embarked on the journey ourselves within the product marketing team for our line of business within Progress. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Sum...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.