BoxGrinder in F15

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R: Marek, tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi Robyn, I'm a Senior Software Engineer at Red Hat working in the Middleware (JBoss) BU where I'm focusing on many different things between Cloud Computing, middleware services and operating systems. I'm the BoxGrinder project leader.

R: I wanted to talk with you today about BoxGrinder. Can you give us a brief description of BoxGrinder - what it is, and what it does?

BoxGrinder is a set of tools helping you create appliances – preconfigured disk images with the operating system and required software ready to run on a selected virtualization platform. BoxGrinder converts simple plain text files into working appliances. It's easy to use and fast.

BoxGrinder consists of three projects:

  • BoxGrinder Build - a fast and easy to use command line tool that is responsible for actually building the appliances.
  • BoxGrinder REST - a server with farm of builder nodes. Build tasks are distributed to nodes where BoxGrinder Build is used to build the appliance. The resulting appliance is transferred to the configured destination.
  • BoxGrinder Studio - a web front-end to BoxGrinder REST designed to provide a friendly graphical user experience on top of BoxGrinder REST.

But BoxGrinder isn't just a builder. It can also deliver the built appliance to a selected location such as a remote SFTP server or Amazon EC2.

BoxGrinder has a plugin architecture, where adding new features like a new operating system, platform or delivery method is really simple.

R: What types of situations would I want to use BoxGrinder in? What are the likely uses?

BoxGrinder is great anywhere you are using virtualization! BoxGrinder helps you create the appliances with the software you want and configure it in the way you want. BoxGrinder saves you time. You don't need to install the operating system and configure all your stuff afterward manually - BoxGrinder does this for you.

Additionally, having a simple appliance definition makes it possible to build the appliance in a repeatable fashion later. Or you can just rebuild the appliance for a different platform or deliver it to different location. It's up to you how you want to use BoxGrinder's features.

R: What types of operating systems can I use BoxGrinder with? What types of virtualization platforms can I use it with?

Currently BoxGrinder supports the Red Hat family of operating systems: Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora and CentOS.

BoxGrinder supports KVM/Xen, VMware, VirtualBox and Amazon EC2, and we're working on adding support for other platforms as well.

R: What cloud providers are supported by BoxGrinder?

At this point BoxGrinder supports following public Clouds: Amazon EC2, ElasticHosts, SKALI Cloud, Open Hosting and ServerLove. But this doesn't mean that the list is closed. It really supports any Cloud which is based on KVM/Xen or VMware as BoxGrinder can convert the images to these formats.

This implies that BoxGrinder supports many private / hybrid Clouds out there because it can power the appliance creation for any KVM/Xen/VMware based Clouds really.

If you're curious about the locations of all the public Clouds supported by BoxGrinder take a look at: http://boxgrinder.org/cloud-locations/.

R: What are your future plans for BoxGrinder development?

There are three places where we want to focus our efforts in the future:

  1. Add support for new Clouds and virtualization platforms.
  2. Release in the near future the first version of BoxGrinder REST.
  3. Start work on BoxGrinder Studio.

R: Where can we find out more information about BoxGrinder. Do you have a wiki page, documentation, mailing list, irc channel, or any other places people can go to find out more about BoxGrinder?

Information on the BoxGrinder project is available at http://boxgrinder.org/. On this site you can find some really useful tutorials: http://boxgrinder.org/tutorials/, especially the quick start guide: http://boxgrinder.org/tutorials/boxgrinder-build-quick-start/.

Our community can reach us in the #boxgrinder IRC channel on irc.freenode.net. We have forums as well (http://community.jboss.org/en/boxgrinder?view=discussions).