Google Compute Engine Switches to Debian

Google is moving its Compute Engine project to Debian as its default operating system.

Cloud App Migration

Google's Compute Engine is moving to Debian as its default operating system after a round of recent enhancements to Debian, including improved 32/64-bit compatibility.

"Today we're adding Debian images for Google Compute Engine," wrote Jimmy Kaplowitz, site reliability engineer and Debian developer for the project in a May 8 post on the Google App Engine Blog. "Debian, in collaboration with us, is providing images for both Debian 7.0 'wheezy' and the previous stable release, Debian 6.0 'squeeze.' This support will make it easy for anyone using Debian today to migrate their workloads onto Compute Engine."

The Debian community just released Debian 7.0 "wheezy," which "brings big improvements, including hardened security, improved 32/64-bit compatibility and addresses a lot of community feedback," wrote Kaplowitz. "For fast performance and to reduce bandwidth costs, Google is hosting a Debian package mirror for use by Google Compute Engine Debian instances. We've updated our docs and will support Debian via our usual support options, or you can also check out what Debian offers."

More changes could potentially come in the future, he wrote. "We are continually evaluating other operating systems that we can enable with Compute Engine. However, going forward, Debian will be the default image type for Compute Engine. We look forward to hearing your feedback."

The project had been using custom versions of CentOS and Ubuntu Linux, according to Google's documentation.

Asked why the change is being made, a Google spokesperson told eWEEK that "we feel that customers will get a great experience having a Linux distribution that is maintained by the Debian community. Debian and derivatives thereof (such as Mint and Ubuntu) are among the most popular on the Internet, and Google itself is a heavy contributor to the Debian code base. We will also continue to offer CentOS, and are actively exploring other operating system options based on feedback from our customers."

In April, Google opened up access to the Google Compute Engine cloud computing environment, letting customers of its Gold Support package take advantage of the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) technology, according to an earlier eWEEK story. Google also added several upgrades to the Compute Engine, which the search giant introduced in June 2012 as a competitor to Amazon Web Services' (AWS') cloud computing service and other similar offerings from the likes of Rackspace and Savvis. Google also reduced prices for Compute Engine by 4 percent.

The IaaS market is becoming increasingly competitive, with a growing number of vendors opening up their data center resources to organizations looking to run their workloads on rented infrastructures. AWS is among the largest and best-known, though other top-tier vendors are looking to make inroads in the space.

Google Gold Support package customers pay $400 a month for the package.

The enhancements to the Compute Engine include an improved management console. The Google Cloud Console enables organizations to administer all their Google Cloud Platform services through a single unified interface. In addition, users now have the option of booting from persistent disks that are mounted as the root file system, get persistent disk snapshots, check and restore contents of network resident persistent disks on demand, and attach and detach persistent disks from running instances.

Google also introduced five new instance type families and 16 new instance types, and said there are two new supported zones in Europe, which will help lower latency and increase performance for European users. An enhancement to Google's qcutil command line tool makes it easier to migrate virtual machines from one to another.

In January, Google announced that it was moving its Google Cloud Platform (GCP) over to the GitHub collaborative development environment to make it easier for software developers to contribute and continue the evolution of GCP. The GCP program has been growing since Google unveiled a new partner program in July 2012 to help business clients discover all of Google's available cloud services.

GitHub is a rapidly growing collaborative software development platform and the leader in public and private code sharing and hosting. GitHub is a Web-based hosting service for software development projects that use the Git revision control system. GitHub offers both paid plans for private repositories, and free accounts for open-source projects. GitHub is the most popular Git hosting site and the most popular open-source hosting site. In less than five years, GitHub has become the world's largest and most trusted code-sharing and hosting community with more than 1.7 million users and more than 3 million Git repositories. GitHub's highly collaborative environment, which includes, desktop and mobile apps, and GitHub Enterprise, enables developers and companies across a broad spectrum.