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New Operating System for 45Drives Storage Servers

Brett Kelly gives an update on our operating system of choice going forward for our server products. You may have heard that IBM and RedHat are "killing off" CentOS Linux. This has forced us to be a little more strategic, as we choose a new primary operating system going forward.

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Hey, everyone, Brett Kelly here. This week I'm going to talk about a Linux management UI that we have recently begun shipping on all our units, as of last week, called Houston.

We're going to talk first what it is. We're going to talk about where you can get it, whether you're a customer or a home user, whatever, because remember, it's free and open source, as it always will be. And three, we're going to talk about why. Why we've made some choices, where we're at with it and where the future of this offering is going to go going forward. Let's get into it.

OK, so what is the Houston UI? It is a Linux management UI. It is Web based and you can control your Linux server from anywhere on your local LAN. You can port forward on the Internet, but don't do that. OK, so that's what it is.

What can you do with it? First of all, I just want sneak in, it is built off the cockpit project. I'll talk a little more about that later. But it is a UI that you can view your logging, your general system health, you can configure ZFS arrays, you can configure SAMBA/ NFS, you can do networking, firewall. You've got a nice command line terminal right in the UI. Just general daily tasks.

But I'm not going to go too far on the details of each piece. We'll do some follow up videos on that. I want to move on to where you can get it.

First of all, I want to say there's been a couple of questions already. Is this a paid service? Does it only come with our hardware? No. To a paid service, no to it only comes with our hardware. I'll talk more. There's a bit of an asterisk on that second one. I'll talk more in a second on that.

But like I said, it's built off the cockpit project, which is an open-source UI platform. It itself is very feature heavy, but it opens the door for people like us to build modules to add on to that functionality. As well as we're using a piece of software, the Cockpit ZFS manager built by a team at Optimans there in Australia, I believe. Open sourced that. we did some additions to kind of work with us and have built that in.

So, that was a bit of a ramble. Where I'm getting at is, remember, we are 45Drives, we support open source, we build from other open-source products, we put together for us and we share it to the world. This will never be a paid service or product. Nahh, it's not a service. This will never be a paid offering. You can download our fork of the cockpit with all this built in from our GitHub, if you want, you can go get the source. We also put the RPMs up there. We'll put those links in the description. We also have our Yum repository that we host with all the RPM's. And there you can add that to your servers and pull down that way.

Currently right now, CentOS 7 is supported. As you know, we've talked in the past. We were on our way to 8, pulled the E-brake, turned around on that one and we fell back to 7. Another great reason of using the cockpit project, we were able to rebase very quickly back to 7 and didn't lose any features, just some slight aesthetics changes. But like I said, we're on CentOS 7 right now, but we have plans to expand support of this to all of the major Linux operating systems. We'll talk later about that.

So, to wrap all that up, you can get it from our GitHub, you can get it from our Yum repo. And of course, it comes default shipped on Storinators.

One word of caution. A couple of the hardware modules that we've built in the Cockpit that references our physical hardware will not work properly. If you're not using 45Drives hardware. By all means, you can still use Houston, you can still use the ZFS management, you can use still all that other stuff. But the hardware specific stuff will not function if it is not a Storinator product. All the links and everything will be in the description there.

So that's a bit of an overview of what it is where you can find it. I want to talk about like where are we going with it? What state is it in right now? Is it done? Where are we going to go?

OK, so like I said, it's built on the cockpit project. The cockpit project gives us a great starting point of a safe, secure web UI that will manage Linux servers. It has the functionality to add modules in. Modules are new functions that we can add in without really touching the core inner workings of cockpit. And this is what we loved about it, the kind of flexibility that we can plug stuff in as we get feedback from our customers, our users, our sales team, our support team on what could be improved and what's missing out of it.

So immediately we said cockpit's great, but it's missing a couple of stuff. It doesn't really have anything specific about hardware. And we need to show people stats about their physical Storinator hardware. Whether it's the disks, the motherboards, everything connected. We're very custom. We let you put whatever you want in the box. Maybe you need to see where your neck is in the slot. Anyway, we'll show you some more on what these modules look like and what they do.

But we first said we need to build in some 45Drives specific functionality, and that's what's in this release right now. Second of all, cockpit has always done MD raid. So MDADM and LVM stack. That's built in by default. You can do that as well. But it doesn't have ZFS, as you know, one of our favorite file systems. We have the ZFS manager included in this as well, which allows you to do SAMBA and NFS all streamlined in that one UI.

Where I'm going with this is we wanted to put this out because cockpit's great and then adding a couple other pieces that we felt needed to be there to get this usable. This is a fork of the cockpit project. We are not going to follow in line exactly. We want to build off their platform and build our own way. And that's why we've talked it and called it Houston. But we're still giving love to the people who helped build this underneath because remember the open-source community, we all build together and we share together.

Where are we going in the future? This isn't done. We want to hear from you, the users. We want to hear from our customers. I want to hear from my service team, from my sales team on what next features people need. What they want this UI to do. What modules we can build in. We can't wait to have people start to use this. We can't wait to see people get out of the command line more so than they have ever had before and get more comfortable in Linux server. We feel this is a great entry point for someone who might be coming from Windows Server or somewhere else to feel a little more comfortable. Who knows that Linux is a great choice for their storage servers, but they're a little worried about learning the interface. Between our service team and this ease-of-use Houston UI that we've added, it's really a good marriage that way.

This isn't the release and finish. This is the release and the beginning of our new product offering of Houston UI and as we remember and thank the wonderful projects that we've built off on top of this. You will see rolling releases of new features coming out. But as I've learned here and other places in my life, if you let engineers design products, they build products that only engineers want to build because they want to see every knob and dial realized out.

We have a good starting point. We're going to listen to everyone and we're going to rapidly build new parts into it as well.

All right, so there is a general overview of what Houston is, where you can get it, where it's going in the future. And as always, I hope you guys enjoyed that. Catch you next week. See you later.

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