Project Xenial

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Release of Project Xenial operating system
Company / developer Stevens Institute of Technology
Source model Open source
Kernel type Linux kernel
License GPL
Official website

Project Xenial is a Linux distribution initiative started by the Applied Electronics Laboratory of Stevens Institute of Technology. There are several sub-initiatives involved with Project Xenial, including both 32 and 64 bit desktop system builds, a full 100+ node cluster, and advanced software development.

Desktop initiative[edit]

Project Xenial employs the latest technologies in its desktop builds. This initiative was started to build a custom version of the Fedora Linux operating system, but has since evolved into its own entire Linux distribution. It features 100% hardware support, instant configuration on install, and a quick updates system. The system was designed with the user in mind, with nearly every optional package installed. Although this could cause the install to become large, cumbersome, and hard to support, the designers took special care to make sure it maintained its ease-of-use. Applications are grouped into type, and then sub-grouped into recommended programs and additional available software. The result is a system in which even a first time Linux user can feel comfortable with his/her desktop.

Project Xenial also features an automated updates system that is one of a kind. Nightly, the entire distribution is rebuilt with the latest changes on a local server. The install CD, totaling a simple 9 megabytes, requires only one key-press to start, yet also allows for specific kernel-options to be added in order to further the hardware support goal of the system. The install is pull-based, which pulls configuration data and packages from the nightly rebuilt system image. The end result of this updates system is a system that is fully up-to-date upon install, and requires absolutely no additional configuration to get working. Additional updates and new software installation are performed daily, meaning the longest a user will have to wait for an update is 24 hours. Project Xenial also includes a custom parallel distributed shell, allowing administrators to add, remove, or changes software and system configuration instantly. In this same fashion, critical updates and user software can be pushed out instantly.

In addition to the 32 and 64 bit builds available, Project Xenial contains two variants of those base builds, featuring full xen virtualization support. This allows the desktop builds to host any number of guest operating systems, such as FreeBSD, NetBSD, Microsoft Windows, or even another instance of Project Xenial itself for testing purposes.

Driftwood was built by Benjamin Rose and Snorre Stamnes, supervised by Brian Moriarty, and is currently maintained by the same people, with the addition of James Light and Yu Xiang.

Cluster initiative[edit]

Project Xenial also is being ported to a cluster environment. When complete, this cluster will contain over 100 nodes, and will have tera-flops of computational power. Upon completion, the nodes will be allocated between public and private, and public access will be given to a select group, most likely the student body at Stevens Institute of Technology. Private access will be given based on those who donate nodes, and those who need the resources.

The cluster is of type grid[clarification needed], with an openMPI backend. Every piece of software that is available on the desktop initiative will also be available on the cluster initiative via X[disambiguation needed] Forwarding, running with the speed of a cluster if optimized for SMP, or, in the worst case, at the speed of the fastest and least loaded machine available.

Advanced software development initiative[edit]

As part of Project Xenial, specialized versions of certain open source software will be developed, allowing the software to run SMP, and therefore be of more use in a cluster environment. Specialized security software is also being developed, such as a more robust nmap scan-logging daemon, and improved network authentication protocols.