JeOS is stripped down to the bare essentials necessary to run a particular application -- a perfect fit for virtualization, which allows many operating systems to run concurrently on a single host. The actual components in a JeOS implementation may vary from one guest to another, but the concept remains the same: If it does not serve the needs of the application, it doesn't need to be in the OS.
Essentially, a traditional OS can divert valuable assets to tasks that provide no real value. Several available tools create JeOS or a virtual appliance, which bundles JeOS and an application into a virtual machine.
For SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, Novell has developed SUSE Studio, which allows users to quickly create a bare-bones operating system. You can even add a custom application, make an image, deploy it on physical or virtual hardware, and save it as a template for future use.
VMware Studio is another option. It supports both traditional operating systems and JeOS implementations, and it helps you package your application with an OS to create a virtual appliance.
Virtualization has taught us the value of abstracting an OS from physical hardware. Now virtual appliances are teaching us to abstract an application from an OS. As we focus more on applications and the services they provide, we recognize that we can no longer afford anything that does not add value.
Will JeOS spell the end of the traditional OS, relegating it to a commodity role in the application stack? I hope so. There will always be a need for a full OS, but it should no longer hold our applications and services captive.
About the expert
Mark Vaughn (MBA, VCP, BEA-CA) serves as an enterprise architect for a multinational corporation. Vaughn has more than 14 years of experience in IT as a Unix administrator, developer, Web hosting administrator, IT manager and enterprise architect. For several years, he has focused on using the benefits of virtualization to consolidate data centers, reduce total cost of ownership, and implement policies for high availability and disaster recovery. Vaughn is a recipient of the 2009 vExpert award and has delivered several presentations at VMworld and BEAWorld conferences in the U.S. and Europe. Read his blog at http://blog.mvaughn.us.