Monday, May 13, 2013

Interview with the creator of JOPUX

If you visit, you'll find a collection of nearly 50 different appliances, running the gamut from basic workstations, to a Java EE server, to big data & analytics servers, all free to download, use, and modify.  This amazing collection of compounding appliances is built single-handedly by Johan Palmaer, a talented consultant and expert SUSE Studio user.  I had the opportunity to interview Johan, and found his feedback about Studio very insightful.

Q: Explain the concept and goals of JOPUX.

A: JOPUX is a Linux distribution and family of appliances. It basically builds on openSUSE with GNOME on 64-bit architecture. The goal is to offer a complete range of appliances that you normally need at a midsized or larger account as well as in smaller businesses or offices. They should be scalable, flexible, reliable, stable, and easy [to] get running, and should be based purely on well-approved open source components from projects like Apache and Eclipse, and supporting running applications developed in programming languages [such] as Java and PHP.

From a technical point of view, the appliances could be divided into different layers.

In the lowest layer you got a range of core and basic appliances - simply called JOPUX Core and Basic - which contains appliances like basic servers, workstations, and workbenches.

At the next layer - the JOPUX Infrabasic Platform - you got appliances which you need in your basic infrastructure for managing networks, traffic, users, printing, files, etc.

The next layer of appliances - the JOPUX Application Server Platform - is for running business applications. For this offering [there is] a range of language-specific servers, e.g. the JOPUX Java EE Server.

For all these applications you probably need somewhere to store some data. Therefore [I am] offering a range of data and bigdata servers.

Your business probably also need[s] some servers for managing processes, making decisions, and [to] collaborate. Therefore [I'm] offering some powerful servers for Business Process Management, Business Intelligence, and Enterprise Content Management.

For smaller businesses and offices [I'm] offering some office appliances which combine much of the functionality you find in the more role-based appliances.

All this make JOPUX become a real choice for all businesses that need a comprehensive and flexible business application platform.

Q: JOPUX is a very comprehensive project. What drove you to start such a large project?

A: I've worked as a project manager running larger projects for many years on international basis. I like complex and comprehensive architectures.

 However, openSUSE in combination with SUSE Studio and it's API, and efficient scripting procedures makes all this much simpler than [I] initially thought.

With traditional approaches, technologies and methodologies this would all be really hard to make, maybe even almost impossible.

So most work is moving on pretty smoothly forward, since much of the tasks when creating and modifying appliances [have] been so automated and optimized.

However - no doubt - there still remains a lot to do!

Q: What does the name mean?

A: JOPUX stands for JOhan Palmaer UX. It's "my own" special flavour of Linux and how to use it.

Q: Do you create and use JOPUX as part of your employment?

A: No. I do all essential tasks at my leisure.

However, at work I spend a lot of time with similar technologies (like Microsoft, IBM,Oracle, ... ) and [am] able use JOPUX as a reference model, not only for Linux solutions.

I spend time in different projects at customers, and deal with all of this on regular basis. JOPUX is an useful inspiration for me, and I look forward [to when] more people will get use of it.

Q: Why did you choose SUSE Studio?

A: I've followed the open source market [for] more than 10 years. Originally, I was mainly interested in open source products running on Windows or cross platforms. I began to use Joomla!, PHP, MySQL, Apache http server, and Java when building brokers for integration purposes. I made my first attempt to create compound distributions based on open source in 2005. By that I learned a lot about well-known open source products.

In my profession I've been working with SOA solutions and using commercial products like Oracle, WebSphere, Microsoft for many years. In 2010 I made a research in which I compared some of the leading application and middleware platforms, like Microsoft Application Platform, Oracle Fusion, IBM WebSphere, JBoss Application Platform, and Apache. I thereafter made another research by comparing some of the popular Linux distributions. A conclusion was that openSUSE seems to offer a good and stable basis for a Linux platform.

Then [I] began to cover how to build appliances. In early 2011 I "found" SUSE Studio, and became very exited! I compared the methods for building appliances which openSUSE, Red Hat/Fedora, and Ubuntu offered. The conclusion was that SUSE Studio offers a much more efficient (if not even say revolutionary) method [to] rapidly create and easily manage Linux appliances. In March 2012 I had the opportunity to launch the initial version of JOPUX. Since then still get more and more impressed of SUSE Studio while keep on improving JOPUX. The combination of openSUSE and SUSE Studio seem to be a perfect match, which I really like and looking forward keep on using!

Q: How is Studio helping your project?

A: Well, basically to build the appliances and make them available for others!

I use the API as much as possible for cloning, creating, deleting stuff.

I have my own configuration database outside SUSE Studio, and from this I initiate most tasks in SUSE Studio as well as against other tools I'm using. I've made a lot of scripts that make all this be smoother. At my homepage ( ) I've simply included links to the various appliances that are published on SUSE Studio.

Q: What are some new features or changes you'd like to see in SUSE Studio?

  • Make it possible for visitors do simple re-configurations of the appliances (like re-sizing) before downloading, and without any need to clone the appliance first.
  • Increased storage quotas, so I can keep older releases instead of have to remove them as soon as new ones appears. As it is now am I only able store the latest version of each appliance in SUSE Studio and have no other place to store previous versions.
  • Improved API (i.e. easier to make upgrades, changing configuration, installing recommended software in patterns)
  • A project page for visitors at SUSE Studio, so that all my appliances would be shown together with some project info for the public audience.
  • Remove the built-in change log, or make it really works. (As it is now I would rather disable it, and just keep an possibility to manually set any version number as you want.)
  • Possible to formatting the appliance description "as you want and need", and attach documents besides (by this not mentioning as any overlay files).
  • Make it possible for visitors to download faster (i.e. not need to push on so many tabs or buttons)
  • Possible to embed the appliance descriptions into your own homepage or vice versa in a smooth manner.
In general I believe SUSE Studio would have good opportunities to become a successful social media by adding facilities like follow, fork, send messages, forums, etc.

Q:  How does the openSUSE project impact progress on JOPUX? (Do you depend on new releases? Do you always update to new openSUSE versions, or do you rely more on other upstream projects?)

A: I need to be aware of upcoming releases and what's included or not. My release plan (but still unofficial) is currently aligned to openSUSE. But my target is to later on only create a single new major release per year. They may get version numbers like "2014" instead. I can build new JOPUX releases by using same openSUSE releases as in previous JOPUX release. But as soon as a new openSUSE releases comes, would I normally and preferably want to upgrade as soon as possible, but it could means that I sometimes may jump over new openSUSE releases.

I'm also very much depending upon the Eclipse and Apache projects, which I have to follow when [I] make my plans. It may mean that I have to wait a moment to upgrade till a new Eclipse or Apache version are available. It could be a couple of weeks (or even months) before a new Eclipse release comes, and then I perhaps prefer to wait a moment before [I] go ahead.

Q: Where is JOPUX available?

A: The JOPUX appliances are available at:
If you want to quickly get running, use the JOPUX Community Edition appliances. If you want to clone and customize - use the JOPUX Foundation Edition appliances. The last two letters in the appliance names tells you which edition they belong to: CE = Community Edition, FE = Foundation Edition

Thanks, Johan, for your amazing contributions to the SUSE Studio community, and keep up the good work!
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