Ksplice Boots the Reboot

It's doubtful that very many users enjoy reboots. Although system uptime is often worn like a badge of honor — as though power-cycling were some form of humiliating defeat — the majority of us can probably agree that having to restart is a pain, if only for the lost time involved. It almost seems as though the annoyance grows exponentially the more frequent they come.

By far the most common reason to reboot, across all platforms, comes as the result of updating. Running Linux takes some of this pain away, as most Linux updates can be applied without restarting — as a general rule, only the far less frequent kernel updates require rebooting. While the reboot will never disappear entirely, the developers at Ksplice have made a giant step in that direction with Ksplice Uptrack, a service designed to take the restart out of even those pesky kernel updates.

If you happen to be in Berlin or Porto Alegre, Brazil this week, you can learn about the company's offerings first hand — Ksplice President Jeff Arnold and company COO Waseem Daher will present at both LinuxTag 2009 and Fórum Internacional de Software Livre this week. Coinciding with their presentations is the release of a free "demonstration" version of Ksplice Uptrack for consumers using Linux. The service, which is currently only available to those running the most recent version of Ubuntu — 9.04 or Jaunty Jackalope — promises all the security and bugfix updates offered through the normal upgrade channels, but without the hassle of having to reboot.

According Ksplice Chief Technology Officer Tim Abbott, the consumer version of Ksplice Uptrack is just the beginning: "[E]xpect to see general availability of an enterprise product within a few months." He went on to say that Ksplice is "excited that this technology can make systems vastly more secure and maintainable, and launching this service for Ubuntu is an opportunity to start showing many people what our technology can do." A fuller explanation of the technology, which was initially developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, can be found in a technical paper presented in the Proceedings of the 2009 ACM SIGOPS EuroSys Conference on Computer Systems, available from the Ksplice website.

Interested Jaunty Jackalope users can download the demonstration version from Ksplice — the company's product literature indicates the service "will be freely supported for as long as it the newest version of Ubuntu," presumably until the end of October. Only the "generic" kernel is currently supported, though support for the "server" and "virtual" kernels is promised before the end of the month. And, of course, if you find yourself in Berlin or Brazil, you can stop in and hear all about it straight from the source.
Justin Ryan is News Editor for LinuxJournal.com.
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