By Gregory Murray, Product Line Manager for Cloud-Native Apps at VMware

It’s been an eventful week for the Cloud-Native Apps team. On the 26th, Pivotal and VMware announced an enterprise cloud-native stack featuring Pivotal Cloud Foundry and VMware Photon Platform.

Today is a milestone day for the Photon OS team – we’re sharing our 1.0 Release Candidate. Go check it out now!

Photon OS is VMware’s enterprise-grade, small-footprint Linux distribution, optimized for running cloud-native applications on vSphere. Photon OS is also an embedded component within Photon Platform, our purpose-built cloud-native infrastructure, and vSphere Integrated Containers.  Since we announced and open-sourced Photon OS last year, the product has racked up tens of thousands of downloads, and we’re confident that this Release Candidate will be the most popular download to date.

As we march towards a 1.0 release, we’ve been hard at work on testing and maturing Photon OS to the near production-grade state it’s in today. It turns out that after more than a decade of supporting guest operating systems, we’ve got quite a bit of expertise on validating and optimizing an operating system for VMware platforms. We took the opportunity to leverage those resources – and, as a result, went a bit quiet – to really hammer on Photon OS performance, security and package library. We think you’ll find this RC much more representative of what’s needed to run Linux, cloud-native applications on vSphere.

So what’s new with Photon OS today?

Today’s Photon OS release allows users to more easily secure and manage systems while improving overall compute performance. We do this through:

  • Easy system updates and in-place upgrades. Today’s release candidate includes tdnf enhancements, making it straightforward to perform system-wide scans and refreshes of your installed core packages, including Docker.
  • Greatly expanded package library in the repos. As we worked with support, the guest operating system validation team and others, we found critical requirements for many new packages. These packages should make Photon OS much more broadly applicable to customer use-cases and open up many new options on what can be done with Photon OS.
  • More file systems options: With the newer 4.2 kernel, Photon OS now supports btrfs, in addition to overlayfs, giving users the ability to leverage some of the efficiencies and capabilities of btrfs.
  • New performance enhancements: We continue to tune the Photon OS kernel when running on vSphere and now deliver a 10-26 percent improvement in file operation microbenchmarks. We’ll be working with our performance team to translate this to some real-world applications and post more details on the VROOM! blog.

Photon OS is a crucial underpinning to our vSphere Integrated Containers and Photon Platform products, and today’s release brings all of VMware’s cloud-native infrastructure solutions one step closer being fully-supported and production-ready. We’re excited to hear about your experiences with Photon OS, and welcome your feedback on our release over on GitHub and @cloudnativeapps.