With the recent release of the JumpBox for Redmine, the JumpBox Platform 1.1 Beta made its first public appearance. Since this is the first time we’ve publicly released the 1.1 Platform I wanted to provide a quick overview so that you can see the great stuff we’ve added.
Redmine is the first application released on this Platform version, but there will be many others following over the next few months as we stabilize things and get the rest of the library updated. If you have feedback to offer on the 1.1 Platform, please post it in the Proving Grounds.
So let’s dive in.
First off, we’ve updated to a newer version of Ubuntu Linux. Platform 1.0 JumpBoxes are based on Ubuntu 6.06 while Platform 1.1 is based on Ubuntu 7.10. This means there have been a large number of changes under the covers as many core tools have been updated to newer versions. Most of these changes won’t be visible to the average JumpBox user, but some of the 6.06 tools were getting a little long in the tooth making it problematic to add some applications.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the new features added to the JumpBox administration interface. Our goal for the administration interface is to provide a basic set of tools to handle the common tasks that every application needs. Toward that end we’ve added a few new features to the admin interface and extended some of the existing features to have new options. I think there’s some pretty interesting new capabilities opened up by the changes.
Note: most of these features require a license key.
This is a screenshot showing the new admin interface. It looks more or less the same, but has picked up a few new icons.
A very common problem with 1.0 JumpBoxes has been getting them to send email. In many cases it just works out of the box, but at other times it can be restricted by the network on which the JumpBox is running. In those cases adding a relay host is a common fix so we added a very simple tool to help you do that. Nothing fancy about this, but we expect it to help a lot of people.
The JumpBox Backup system has gotten a big over haul in this release. In 1.0 you could backup to NFS and Windows file shares and in 1.1 you can still do that but we also added a few more options. First is a direct download option so that you just generate the backup and then save it to disk without configuring any kind of file share. That becomes a very easy way to grab the state of the JumpBox without having to set up any other infrastructure. The second new option is the ability to save backups into Amazon S3. This is a feature that we’re really excited about, Amazon S3 is a great service where you pay by the GB to store data on Amazon’s systems. It’s very inexpensive and in just a few clicks you now have an option to backup your JumpBox to an offsite location. Very handy and a great addition to the JumpBox Backup system.
So seeing what’s added for backups, it should be obvious that the restore system adds the mechanisms to do similar things in reverse. So you can restore from a file that you downloaded and you can restore from Amazon S3 as you would expect, however the restore system also gained another feature. You can import data directly from another JumpBox. This exists to make it easier to update to a new version of the JumpBox. Simply fire up the new JumpBox, point it at the old one and import the latest state. That makes the whole process much easier.
A completely new feature we added in 1.1 is an easy mechanism to enable SSL for the JumpBox. This is a great feature that allows you to setup encrypted connections using a self-signed certificate with just a couple clicks. Plus, it also gives you everything you need to get a properly signed certificate if you want to go through the extra steps. To use that option you’ll need to get the certificate signed by a third party certificate authority, but the JumpBox does its best to help you along the way.
Since JumpBoxes pretty much always have web applications installed, it’s a natural thing to want to see statistics for the web traffic that they’re serving. So we made that easy. One click will activate the web stats package and show you how many people are using your JumpBox.
There are also a few other nice capabilities like maintenance mode that allows you to turn the application off for maintenance, some nicer error messages for things like 404 errors and some general security and stability improvements behind the scenes.
That’s the quick overview of what’s new in the JumpBox Platform 1.1. This is currently available in the JumpBox for Redmine and will be making it’s way into JumpBoxes for other apps over the next few months. Of course this is a beta and we can really use some feedback, so if you try it out please share your experiences in the Proving Grounds.