As I prepped a new virtual server template the other day, it occurred to me that we need more virtualization-specific Linux distributions or at least specific VM-only options when performing an install. A few distros take steps in this direction, such as Ubuntu and OEL jeOS (just enough OS), but they're not necessarily tuned for virtual servers.
For large installations, the distributions in use are typically highly customized on one side or the other -- either built as templates and deployed to VMs, or deployed through the use of silent installers or scripts that install only the bits and pieces required for the job. However, these are all handled as one-offs. They're generally not available or suitable for general use. In many cases, these customized templates or installs are aimed at a single application and need to be overhauled for other uses. It would be of some benefit to be able to select "This is a VM" at the outset of an install and have the installer behave appropriately.
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By "appropriately," I mean that I do not need to see SMART tools installed, nor do I need Bluetooth. I do not need X11 or a desktop environment, and I certainly do not need ISDN support enabled by default. Not only is there a significant number of tools and utilities that are fundamentally useless in a virtual server environment, but accompanying those tools and utilities are plenty of libraries that are equally unusable. We can safely add to that the number of kernel modules that have absolutely zero chance of ever being used, as well as a significant number of kernel options that fall into the same category. That's a whole heap of useless cruft that could be eliminated from the start -- essentially what happens when an admin preps a custom template or install for a large-scale rollout.
What I'd like to see is sanctioned and supported VM-only cuts of major Linux distributions, perhaps tailored for specific hypervisors. This would not necessarily increase the number of distributions available, but could be made possible through a single install option. You can already do this manually on, say, RHEL, by going through every default package and tossing the unnecessary stuff, then potentially installing a custom kernel. That could all be scripted through Kickstart, but then we're back to the one-off approach.
I found it interesting that a Google search for "redhat vmware optimize install" returns a top link on how to install Red Hat Linux 7.3 on VMware. Another search of "RHEL vmware optimized install" at least shows a relatively helpful blog link from three years ago, but not much else. This is hardly rocket surgery. We've been doing it for eons. Why have we not seen a top-down movement toward these optimizations from the big commercial Linux vendors?