Christian Koch

NetBSD: The Ideal OS for Cloud Computing

Fri April 18, 2014

Yup, I just made a very bold statement right there. I am really saying that NetBSD, that quirky little operating system that I love so much is probably the ideal operating system for cloud computing.

Now in general, I’m not the biggest fan of virtualizing an entire operating system. I believe it is better to modularize as many of your services as possible. If my application only needs, let’s say, a database and something to process images, then those should be the only things I need to worry about. As an application developer, why should I ever need to worry about creating users and doing other sysadmin stuff? That would be the true ideal. Operating systems don’t even enter the picture in this case.

But if your application’s infrastructure is based on virtualizing an entire operating system, then you might as well make it the smallest and least obtrusive OS out there, and the clear winner here is NetBSD. A complete but basic installation is almost negligible in size and computing resources, which allows you to get away with the smallest payment plans in most cases. If your cloud computing provider charges by CPU-hour or storage-day, for instance, an application would literally cost less using a NetBSD image than most other images. Even if other operating systems let you strip away services and other system components, the process is nowhere near as easy or safe as it is on NetBSD.

The hard evidence is my brand-new Amazon EC2 instance. It is a “t1.micro” instance, i.e., the smallest. It’s in AWS’s “free tier” and I can’t imagine paying a single cent for it for an entire year. That’s incredible.

comments powered by Disqus