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This is pretty insane. A group of Silicon Valley-based Linux hackers are crafting a new operating system, not for personal computers, or smartphones, or even tablets, but for the servers that underpin the entire internet.
The group, led by Alex Polvi, is pretty ambitious too. It wants to change the way we build the entire internet. In fact, reports Wired, Polvi and his team want to make updating the worldwide network of computers as easy as it is with your laptop or smartphone.
The project is based on ChromeOS, the Google-owned operating system that powers its Chromebooks. Like ChromeOS, it updates itself every few weeks. Unlike ChromeOS, it will be doing so not just for a single machine but for servers around the globe. The idea as that the companies behind every big web service out there will be able to update their operations much more quickly.
“We’ve borrowed a lot of concepts from the browser world,” Polvi explains, “and applied them to servers.”
As Wired notes, web giants such as Google and Amazon and big Wall Street financial outfits, including the NASDAQ stock exchange, have built similar systems, but for their use only. Povli is building something that anyone can use. “We’re building Google’s infrastructure for everyone else,” he says.
The CoreOS project is still in its infancy, but the team reckons that it has the potential to go the way of a couple of other Silicon Valley companies that started out in garages.
And by forking Chrome OS, they reckon they can make large swathes of the internet safer and less vulnerable than they currently are. Polvi points to what the rapid updates brought about by browsers such as Chrome have done for the web.
“This has not only narrowed the window for security vulnerabilities in browsers, it has moved the entire web forward,” he says, adding that it paved the way forward for technologies such as HTML 5.
Imagine what the same kind of rapid updates could do for the internet as a whole.
Povli says that after he posted about what his company was doing on Hacker News, around 1 300 companies have expressed interest in the software, 50 of which are Fortune 500 companies. And, reports Wired, the project also has the backing of Lew Moorman, the Rackspace president and board member who worked with Polvi in the wake of the Cloudkick deal. “This is the way a lot of modern applications are going to get built — though it’s very early days,” Moorman says.
“This is not super-mainstream today … but having a lightweight system like this where you can easily manage a huge number of machines will be very, very valuable,” he adds.