KernelCare Promises Linux Security Updates Without the Reboots

KernelCare Promises Linux Security Updates Without the Reboots

CloudLinux is introducting KernelCare, a new service for installing security updates on open source Linux kernels for virtual or physical servers without rebooting.

One of the nice things about Linux is that it never asks to reboot after installing security other updates—unless, that is, you update the kernel, which traditionally does require a reboot. But CloudLinux hopes to change that for more enterprises through a new product called KernelCare, designed to keep a virtual or physical open source Linux OS updated without rebooting.

CloudLinux's main product is CloudLinux OS, which is, er, a Linux OS designed for cloud servers. KernelCare is a new offering from CloudLinux that will complement the company's hosting platform by making it possible to apply updates to the Linux kernel without rebooting the entire server. KernelCare runs as a single kernel module and works whether the OS in question exists on bare metal or inside a virtual environment.

Currently, KernelCare supports CentOS6, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, CloudLinux 6 and OpenVZ. "Virtuozzo, Debian, Ubuntu and other kernels will follow," according to the product website.

If you feel like you've already heard about the magical promise of having your server and eating it, too—by which I mean keeping it up to date while also maintaining 100 percent uptime—that may be because of Ksplice, a service similar to KernelCare that debuted in 2008.

But what makes KernelCare different from Ksplice—and what will undoubtedly serve as the main selling point of the new product for CloudLinux—is that Oracle (ORCL) now owns Ksplice, the company that originally developed the Ksplice software. And while the Ksplice code theoretically continues to support most Linux distributions, Oracle has tied the update service to Oracle Linux specifically. It has also not shown much interest in continuing to develop Ksplice, which has not issued a new software release since time of the acquisition by Oracle in 2011.

By being more OS-agnostic, then, CloudLinux, stands poised to tap into renewed demand for rebootless kernel updates. The company will probably need to add support for more Linux server distributions before achieving large-scale adoption, but there is clear value in the features KernelCare provides for enterprise datacenters, and the product is entering the market at a good time.

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