By Steve Hoenisch, Technical and Marketing Communications, VMware

We’re pleased to announce version 2.0 of Project Photon OS. Photon OS is an open source Linux operating system optimized for containers, cloud-native applications, public cloud platforms and VMware infrastructure. The operating system helps you securely build, test, run and manage containerized applications.

Here are some highlights of the 2.0 release:

  • Secure remote management: The new Photon Management Daemon is a secure API-driven tool that manages the firewall, network, packages and users on remote Photon OS machines. The tool gives you three choices for performing remote management: a command-line utility, Python or REST.
  • Additional security hardening: The optional secure kernel is configured according to the recommendations of the Kernel Self-Protection Project (KSPP).
  • Secure EFI boot: The operating system now boots with validated trust.
  • Project Lightwave integration: This open source security platform from VMware authenticates and authorizes users and groups with AD or LDAP.
  • Native Kubernetes binaries in the Photon repository and ability to build Kubernetes containers based on Photon OS.
  • VMware vSAN persistent volumes support to store the data of cloud-native apps.
  • VMware NSX-T CNI compatibility for Kubernetes networking.
  • Updates to key packages, including the LTS version of the Linux kernel (4.9) and systemd.
  • A new image that’s primed to run on Microsoft Azure.

Project Photon OS 2.0 also includes a number of optional open source packages for rapidly prototyping and deploying cloud-native applications:

  • Calico has been added as an option for container networking.
  • Heapster, for container cluster monitoring and performance analysis.
  • nginx-ingress, for DNS resolution of container endpoints.
  • RabbitMQ, for processing messages in a message queue.
  • ceph distributed storage system has been added to serve as an object store for keys.
  • Redis, for storing data structures in memory.
  • The proxy for Wavefront by VMware, for gleaning monitoring data and metrics from containers and Kubernetes clusters.

Just as in the 1.0 release, the ISO image of Photon OS contains everything you need to install either the minimal or full version. The minimal version is a lightweight host tailored to running containers when performance is paramount. The full version of Photon OS includes additional packages to help deploy containerized applications.

There are also cloud-ready images of Photon OS that are prepackaged and tested for rapid deployment on Google Compute Engine (GCE) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), as well as Microsoft Azure.

As for using Photon OS with VMware infrastructure, you’ll benefit from end-to-end testing, compatibility and interoperability with the rest of our software-defined data center. The OVA is customized for VMware vSphere, VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation. These customizations include rapid installation and a highly optimized kernel that improves boot and runtime performance for containers and Linux applications, especially when Photon OS runs on VMware ESXi, which is the hypervisor that underlies vSphere deployments.

The gist of all this is that Photon OS makes it quick and easy to port containerized applications between on-premises environments and public clouds while maintaining a consistent OS environment from development to production.

To help developers, Photon OS contains recent versions of key cloud-native packages, including Mesos, Flannel and Kubernetes. Likewise, for building distributed applications and 12-factor apps, there’s Cassandra, Zookeeper and Node.js.

Photon OS includes the open source version of the Docker daemon. After installing Photon OS and enabling Docker, you can immediately run a Docker container that, in turn, runs a Photon OS container image, giving you a circular affirmation that all is right with your cloud-native world:

Photon OS can be downloaded here: For more information, see the Photon OS GitHub site at

Visit the Cloud-Native Applications blog for more around version 2.0 of Project Photon OS, and follow us on Twitter (@cloudnativeapps).