informa
/
2 MIN READ
Commentary

JumpBox: Instant Open Source, Just Add Virtualization

I love how open source projects are inherently malleable things. Easiest example: the plethora of Linux distributions and hardware ports. Beyond that there's the endless ways open source applications can be repackaged and delivered -- in Linux distro repositories, as a BitNami stack or some other standalone unit ... and now, JumpBox.

I love how open source projects are inherently malleable things. Easiest example: the plethora of Linux distributions and hardware ports. Beyond that there's the endless ways open source applications can be repackaged and delivered -- in Linux distro repositories, as a BitNami stack or some other standalone unit ... and now, JumpBox.

Billed as "Instant Infrastructure", JumpBox delivers all-in-one packages of many common open source applications. Instead of making them into self-installing or -unpacking stacks for specific OS platforms, they release them as self-contained virtual machines using Ubuntu 8.04 as the underlying platform. These VMs can run as-is under Xen, Virtual PC, or VMware (your choice), and I also was able to get JumpBox VMs running under Sun xVM VirtualBox with a little effort. (Networking needed some tinkering.)

Once you have a JumpBox set up in a virtual machine, they're a snap to get running. Boot a JumpBox and you're greeted with a welcome screen that tells you what network address to connect to for Web-based configuration. From there you can make manual changes to networking settings, shut down / restart the 'Box, and so forth. The process of configuring the application itself will vary depending on what application you're running, but if you have experience with the app in question it should be easy.

If you purchase a JumpBox subscription key, you get to unlock a whole slew of additional functions: instant updates to new versions of JumpBoxes when they come out, automatic backups to an Amazon S3 repository, easier ways to migrate data to new instances of a JumpBox, and so on. It's another twist on monetizing open source by selling services, add-ons, or expanded functionality.

I'm more inclined toward using something like the BitNami stacks, or better yet something which could be unpacked in a single directory and run as-is (like XAMPP) without formally installing it. Virtual machines have a bit more overhead, but do have the advantage of being thoroughly self-contained.

If you've been using a self-contained FOSS app stack yourself, sound off below.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing