Imagine burning a CD with your latest and greatest in web sites, putting it into the computer’s CD drive, turning on, and magically you have your web server running? No installation, no configuration, no login – no viruses, no persistent hacking, no version conflicts?
The idea came to me when running a large computer cluster in a three-tier application. The front end web servers were always the worst problem: they handled all the load, they handled the majority of attacks, they were the entry point for vulnerabilities and denial-of-service abuses.
I had tons of problems to deal with, so I never got to realize this idea: take the software we run on the web servers, make it into a CD, tear out the hard drive from the servers, and make the whole thing run from read-only drives. Stuff it and forget it.
I recently started thinking about the project again. I wanted to take an old machine I had sitting at home and train it as a minimal web server. It had to run LAMP and Joomla, but not allow persistent updates to the database. The project I thought of sounded like a perfect match, so I started looking into the available distributions.
Turns out nobody seems to have started a project in this direction, despite repeated calls for it. There are tons of Linux distributions on Live CD, but they are all fixed. The idea is that someone puts content together and the CD is to showcase the creator’s efforts.