Automated deployment of Ubuntu with Orchestra

Thursday, October 27th, 2011


Orchestra is one of the most exciting new capabilities in 11.10. It provides automated installation of Ubuntu across sets of machines. Typically, it’s used by people bringing up a cluster or farm of servers, but the way it’s designed makes it very easy to bring up rich services, where there may be a variety of different kinds of nodes that all need to be installed together.

There’s a long history of tools that have been popular at one time or another for automated installation. FAI is the one I knew best before Orchestra came along and I was interested in the rationale for a new tool, and the ways in which it would enhance the experience of people building clusters, clouds and other services at scale. Dustin provided some of that in his introduction to Orchestra, but the short answer is that Orchestra is savvy to the service orchestration model of Juju, which means that the intelligence distilled in Juju charms can easily be harnessed in any deployment that uses Orchestra on bare metal.

What’s particularly cool about THAT is that it unifies the new world of private cloud with the old approach of Linux deployment in a cluster. So, for example, Orchestra can be used to deploy Hadoop across 3,000 servers on bare metal, and that same Juju charm can also deploy Hadoop on AWS or an OpenStack cloud. And soon it should be possible to deploy Hadoop across n physical machines with automatic bursting to your private or favourite public cloud, all automatically built in. Brilliant. Kudos to the conductor 🙂

Private cloud is very exciting – and with Ubuntu 11.10 it’s really easy to set up a small cloud to kick the tires, then scale that up as needed for production. But there are still lots of reasons why you might want to deploy a service onto bare metal, and Orchestra is a neat way to do that while at the same time preparing for a cloud-oriented future, because the work done to codify policies or practices in the physical environment should be useful immediately in the cloud, too.

For 12.04 LTS, where supporting larger-scale deployments will be a key goal, Orchestra becomes a tool that every Ubuntu administrator will find useful. I bet it will be the focus of a lot of discussion at UDS next week, and a lot of work in this cycle.

17 Responses to “Automated deployment of Ubuntu with Orchestra”

  1. Benjamin Kerensa Says:

    Automated Deployment is always good.

  2. Oxwivi Says:

    Will you honor us and summarize this article as an answer to this Ask Ubuntu question?

  3. Orchestra Provides Automatic Deployment of Ubuntu | Electronic Gadgets Says:

    […] announced a few minutes ago by Mark Shuttleworth on his personal blog, Orchestra is an amazing tool, which helps system administrators to easily bring up a farm of […]

  4. Ubuntu: Despliegue automático de Ubuntu con Orchestra | Gustavo Pimentel's GNU/Linux Blog Says:

    […] como la anunciara y describiera, hace unos minutos, Mark Shuttleworth, en su blog personal, Orchestra es una herramienta increíble, que ayudará a los administradores de sistemas para […]

  5. Richard Says:

    I’d rather you look at the glaring hole in your software, the UI. Unity is bust and I think user revolt is imminent. I just did an office upgrade and all 10 users after a week of trying the new interface had me switch them to xfce 🙁 🙁

  6. Martin Says:

    @Richard: Unity is great. Much better in looks and usability than Gnome 2.

    People should stop posting these off-topic comments on this blog.

  7. Andy S Says:

    Richard, that’s interesting. I’m sure your input is greatly valued. However, you might want to consider that, perhaps, Mark really does know better than you – this comment on the previous post says it more eloquently than I could:

  8. mark Says:


    The unstoppable Jorge has a good answer there now, which I edited a little and bumped up.

  9. Saravanan Says:

    Hi Mark,
    I am an active Ubuntu Desktop and Server user.
    I have personally recommended ubuntu for around 20 of my friends and family, They all enjoy the stability of the software.
    I have a little suggestion from the user perspective. It would be great to have Ubuntu’s own PC and Desktops shipping with Ubuntu per-installed. That way we can ensure that it works fine well tested on one particular hard ware platform.
    Follow the Apple’s business strategy. Mac OS runs only on one hardware and its easy to support and maintain, and for sure this model will provide great success for Ubuntu in the coming days. Relying on Hardware Vendors to use our software is not going to take us anywhere.
    We need our own proprietary hardware which works well with Ubuntu. 1 Platform, 1 Hardware approach will bring great success for Ubuntu. Previous linux distros are no more in existence now just because of lack of hardware support.

    Good luck

  10. Links 27/10/2011: GNOME 3.4 Plans, Retail Stores in China Sell GNU/Linux PCs | Techrights Says:

    […] Automated deployment of Ubuntu with Orchestra Orchestra is one of the most exciting new capabilities in 11.10. It provides automated installation of Ubuntu across sets of machines. Typically, it’s used by people bringing up a cluster or farm of servers, but the way it’s designed makes it very easy to bring up rich services, where there may be a variety of different kinds of nodes that all need to be installed together. […]

  11. Joe Says:

    @Andy S

    That is an impressive amount of money to make in a software business (Referring to the link you posted) and I’m sure it was well deserved earnings; back when he had a sane view of desktop Linux.

    However, now, in the current state of Ubuntu, it will be interesting to review those earning statements in, say 2 years.

  12. Aleve Sicofante Says:

    @Andy: the linked reply makes little sense.

    When someone cites Linus to proof some particular DE choice, is wrong. He’s good at kernle programming, no UI design.

    Mark has shown he’s good at writing security software and selling that software to a big company for a lot of money. He hasn’t shown special abilities designing UIs or hiring people to design them for him/us.

    Richard’s statement, while off-topic, is yet another example of ordinary people becoming furious at Unity, to the point of forcing the admin to revert to a similar desktop, like XFCE in this case.

    On topic: I appreciate the Orchestra initiative. I definitely hope Canonical makes a lot of money on the server with many many deployments and puts it to good use hiring real professional designers to create a usable desktop. 😉

  13. Shaglok Says:

    I’m sorry for the off-topic, but I think it could be important.

    Mark, have you read this: ? Why don’t talk to HP (or buy, you are able of it) to open webOS?? We need a full-open mobile operating system, and it’s almost finished. We’ll only need a bit of work to make it installabe on non-Palm-or-HP devices.

    Please consider this.

  14. Richard Says:


    WebOS is the perfect example of my previous statements. WebOS has the most advanced most user friendly UI design and most productivity oriented design of any tablet and through many unfortunate mishaps has almost been deep sixed.

    My point is that while it is almost perfect for phones and tablets and has gotten little love is similar to how ubuntu is still popular even with unity only for two opposing reasons. Unity is unimaginative and clunky in design as a copy or similar to mac is interface where webOS is minimal and simplistic and gets the job done.

    The hiding of menus in the new global menu is difficult for many and new users to grasp and especially hard for those trying to come from windows or that virtualize windows at the same time. It is tough for some to use such differing interfaces and make such drastic changes. Global menu makes sense in the fact that it is tied to the top bar when maximized but not when the windows aren’t maximized. And the fact that unity by default places the window manager and shortcut bar on the left instead of bottom like the other major operating systems in both phones and desktops is also troubling to me.

    I think with minor tweaks unity could be great, it’s just currently missing the mark or pun intended, Mark’s missing it.

  15. Ahmed Says:

    One of the thing that I hate in Ubuntu 9.04/9.10 is the Global menu. On a 24″ monitor, it is painful moving the mouse all the way from one corner to the top. Moreover, since menus are not visible, it feels like application has limited capability. Your argument of saving vertical space has no value if it comes at the cost of flexibility and ease of use.
    If you are in love of global menus, keep it, but at least provide a customization option to the ones that do not like it.

  16. Celso Says:

    Mr Mark, please check this news. Maybe a great oportunity to promote ubuntu?
    (the website is translated from portuguese)

  17. Richard Says:

    I completely agree with you!