For nearly as long as Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been in operation there has been an Amazon Linux operating system powering it. Initially, Amazon Linux was just an optimized version of Red Hat's community Fedora Linux, adjusted to work on AWS, but it has evolved over the years.
Amazon Linux 2 hit the release candidate stage on Dec. 13, with general availability expected in January 2018. Amazon is positioning the new update as a Long Term Support (LTS) relesae, with security and bug fix support for five years.
While all prior versions of the Amazon Linux distribution were tethered to AWS and only available as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI), Amazon Linux 2 breaks that mold.
Though Amazon Linux 2 is no longer strictly tethered to the AWS public cloud, users still can't run it natively on bare metal. Users will need to run it inside a hypervisor.
"Amazon Linux 2 virtual machine images are currently available for VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Oracle VM VirtualBox virtualization solutions for development and testing," Amazon stated. "We intend to pursue certification for each of these hypervisors for the LTS build."
One of the purposes of making the Amazon Linux 2 release more broadly available is to help enable developers who want to use it offline for development purposes without needing to boot up a new instance on AWS.
Linux 4.9.x at Core of Amazon Linux 2
At the core of Amazon Linux 2 is the Linux 4.9 kernel, which was first released in December 2016 by Linus Torvalds and has been updated with bug and security fixes over the past year.
The core virtualization technology included in Amazon Linux 2 is Xen, with the new distribution including the xen-blkfron and xen-netfront components for integration with AWS. The distribution also uses the systemd 219 init system to manage system processes and to bootstrap userspace.
The latest Amazon Linux 2 distribution is freely available for download here.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eSecurityPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.