Microsoft’s new Linux option for Azure is Clear in the cloud

Microsoft announced today that it has added support for the Intel-backed Clear Linux distribution in instances for its Azure public cloud platform.

Microsoft announced today that it has added support for the Intel-backed Clear Linux distribution in instances for its Azure public cloud platform.

It’s the latest in a lengthy string of Linux distributions to become available on the company’s Azure cloud. Microsoft already supports CentOS, CoreOS, Debian, Oracle Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Enterprise Linux, OpenSUSE and Ubuntu in Azure instances.

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The new distro is available in three versions from Microsoft – first, in a stripped-down, simple VM designed for maximum customizability, second, in a Docker-based container runtime, and, finally, in a “sample solution image” designed for machine learning applications, to demonstrate some of the possibilities.

Clear Linux is a lightweight Linux distribution designed to be as high-performing as possible for server and cloud use – it’s the brainchild of Intel, which is positioning it as a key building block for containerized applications in particular and the cloud in general. It features a sophisticated workload scheduler, optimizations to the kernel and major Linux components like systemd and stateless operation.

Stateless is a big deal, according to Microsoft open source product manager Jose Miguel Parrella, particularly for teams operating in a DevOps environment.

“By separating the system defaults and distribution best practices from the user configuration, Clear Linux simplifies maintenance and deployment which becomes very important as infrastructure scales,” he said in a statement.

Microsoft’s embrace of Linux as a technology of the future, particularly where the cloud is concerned, has been well-documented. The company, which joined the Linux Foundation in November, says that fully a third of all virtual machines running on Azure are Linux.

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