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Hardcore work on the computer requires a serious dedicated setup. You can of course run your programming stack on your gaming machine, but that hardcore gaming or hardcore development would suffer. You need a dedicated setup for thorough work of any kind.

Usually such situations involve setting up a server or using virtualization. Both of these processes involve some technical know how and most of all – a considerable amount of time.

We previously covered how you can create a Virtual Machine from the operating system you are currently running Create A Virtual Machine Clone of Your Existing Hard Drive [Windows] Create A Virtual Machine Clone of Your Existing Hard Drive [Windows] Read More , so that you can easily carry along the installed software and settings from your computer to any other computer or vice versa. Today let’s look at another alternative that spares you a lot of trouble of messing around with configuration files.

It is called TurnKey Linux.

TurnKey Linux is different from your regular Linux distributions. Unlike most distributions, Turnkey Linux offers a turnkey solution and lets you download TurnKey Linux appliances according to your needs that are ready to run. The components are called appliances.


There are tons of really good open source software and we have previously shown you plenty of them here on MakeUseOf. However beyond regular day to day use, many open source software power the backbone of plenty of commercial establishments. Apache Web server is a great example, which is used on the majority of servers on the Internet today. Turnkey Linux gathers many such Open Source software and makes them available as turnkey appliances.

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So what exactly is a Turnkey Linux appliance you might wonder? Well, let’s put it this way, an appliance is a combination of a base operating system and software, serving a specialized purpose. As an example, let’s say you want to start an online community site. phpBB is an excellent php application that you can use for the said purpose. You would start by getting the hardware, then install PHP, MySQL, set them up to work together and then finally install phpBB.

However, using Turnkey Linux’s phpBB appliance, all you need to worry about is getting some hard disk space that you can put on the World Wide Web! You can just as easily use your own computer, provided it would stay online.

turnkey linux appliances

In Turnkey Linux’s case, the appliances are created using Ubuntu 8.04 as the base system and bundling all the required software along with it. There are plenty of appliances to choose from. Almost all of the popular commercially used open source applications have been covered and are available as separate appliances. There are appliances for web development, issue tracking, content management systems (excellent for creating your sites), others for setting up a variety of servers and a whole lots of others.

turnkey linux appliances

The appliances are available as bootable ISO images as well as VMDK file to use with your Virtualization software. There is also a “Launch to Cloud” option which uses Amazon EC2 and lets you launch your server in a snap. You can also find a Amazon EC2 tutorial in Turnkey Linux’s documentation, if you would like some help with EC2. The details page also lists the various software that you will get with the appliance, so you can easily see if it is what you are looking for before downloading.

turnkey linux appliances

Using the turnkey Linux appliance is as simple as it can get. Depending upon the method you choose to download the appliance you can either burn the ISO image to a disk and then boot from it, or use the VMDK image with VMware or Virtualbox. The appliance and bundled software are preconfigured and ready to use, you wouldn’t have to do anything other than to boot the system and use it!

Take Turnkey Linux for a spin if you are thinking to setup a Linux server of any kind, or perhaps a dedicated development environment or site. Let us know what you think of it? Which appliance did you use?

  1. Marc Warne
    February 7, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Nicely written article - thank you.

    You and your readers might be interested that we've been working with the Turnkey Linux people and now offer any appliance as an automatic install option on our Linux VPS servers, which essentially means you can deploy any of the appliances in a couple of minutes using a web-based interface. It really does make the entire install process a snap!

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