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Dreamhost Looking to Contribute Back to Linux

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted October 29, 2012


Linux is a common and familiar bare metal operating system used by many hosting providers on their server infrastructure today. Among them is hosting vendor Dreamhost, who could soon be moving from just using Linux to actively contributing code to Linux.

Simon Anderson, CEO of Dreamhost, noted that his company has been using Linux since the company was founded in 1997. Dreamhost originally used the Debian Linux distribution but more recently has started to shift toward Ubuntu Linux.

While Dreamhost uses Ubuntu, they currently don't have a commercial agreement with Canonical, the lead commercial sponsor of Ubuntu. There is, however, a relationship between Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth and Dreamhost, as Shuttleworth is an investor in Inktank, a company that Dreamhost helped to fund in an effort to support the open source Ceph filesystem.

Anderson expects that in the future on the Dreamhost side there will be more of a commercial relationship with Canonical.

Linux Contributions

"Recently we've started to get more active in the Linux Foundation and looking at contributions back to the operating system," Anderson said.

How and where Dreamhost will contribute back to Linux is still being determined. Dreamhost has contributed code to Linux in the past by way of the Ceph filesystem.

Ceph became part of the mainline Linux kernel in May of 2010 with the Linux 2.6.34 kernel release. Linux - RoundedCeph is a distributed file system created by Dreamhost co-founder Sage Weil. Weil now leads Inktank, which, along with having the backing of Dreamhost, provides Ceph support.

Overall, Dreamhost consumes and uses a fair amount of open source software. Part of the reason why the company uses open source is to avoid vendor lock-in. The company is now becoming more flexible in what is used in its infrastructure.

"For example, previously we had our own service control and configuration system that we grew up ourselves in the infrastructure, but we got to the scale where that's just not cutting it anymore," Anderson said. "So we're starting to use other solutions, and we now use Private Chef for all of our cloud implementations."

Chef is an open source configuration management system. Its use at Dreamhost is now helping to drive a lot of efficiencies.

Anderson noted that even though there are costs involved, be it support or licensing associated with some infrastructure support technologies, it's a cost his firm can now justify because of the efficiencies that can be provided.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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