Novell to enter virtual appliance market, competing with rPath

Novell announced a new online service able to create custom Linux distributions, delivering them as Xen virtual machines if required.

Quoting from the Novell official announcement:

Novell today announced the open source availability of the openSUSE? Build Service, an innovative framework that provides an infrastructure for software developers to easily create and compile packages for multiple Linux* distributions. Novell also announced the immediate availability of KIWI, a system imaging tool to create live media, including Xen* virtual images. As a result, open source developers can more quickly build a Linux distribution that meets their particular use case, rigorously test it to ensure product quality, and easily package it for quick installation.

Developers can use the user-friendly, automated process in the openSUSE Build Service to build open source packages and resolve dependencies with other packages. The build service is completely free, offering packages for a variety of Linux distributions, including the community. Users can easily find and download the latest open source packages for their distributions, including upgrades for older packages. Direct access to code stored in popular source repositories such as Novell® Forge and SourceForge is also possible. The source and documentation for the build service tools are hosted on within the openSUSE project.

The openSUSE Build Service contains a server back-end and a client front-end. The server back-end hosts sources, the build infrastructure, package download and mirroring tools, and communication infrastructures. The client front-end includes the tools and interfaces needed to organize and build packages from source code, including a command line and a Web-based interface…

This move seems the beginning step to enter the virtual appliance market launched by VMware, while the building clearly mimicks the popular rBuilder. But from what is available right now it seems hard Novell can really compete with rPath service.