Creator of Open source Linux OS Ubuntu, Canonical has announced the release of it Ubuntu Core 18 OS for embedded and internet of things (IoT) devices. Ubuntu Core 18’s principal feature is that its image size is only 260 MB. This makes it an ideal operating system for IoT devices and embedded systems.
The tiny size is coupled with many security advantages as it gives the OS minimal attack surface. The attack surface of software environment is the sum of different points where an attacker can attach itself to enter data and extract information from the environment. Operating systems as part of basic security measure try to minimize the attack surface. Ubuntu Core’s miniaturized attack surface has added an additional security advantage to the adoption of the OS.
Ubuntu Core has added a new feature called ‘’Snaps’’ which are basically containerized and corruption resistant software packages for installing programs, according to Canonical. The Snaps are confined to a sandbox, which implies that even if somehow the snaps are compromised, the potential for damage is very limited. As the sandbox is isolated from the rest of the package which minimizes the damage. Ubuntu has ensured that the Snaps are scanned regularly for known and potential vulnerabilities.
The Snaps’s compatibility with IoT devices is further enhanced by its ability to run on Ubuntu servers, desktop and cloud meaning that apps meant for IoT devices can be designed and tested across Canonical’s ecosystem. Snaps’s another advantage is that whenever it is updated it automatically preserves the previous application data and binaries so that in case of a bad update there’s always an option to revert back to an earlier version.
Snaps can deliver device drivers and kernels to third party applications, this allows targeted upgrades to IoT devices via a central app store which requires no intervention from the user’s end. This manageability enhances the security and performance of devices in the field, according to Ian Hughes, a senior IoT analyst at 451 research. Ubuntu Core 18 provides 10 years of security support cover through regular updates. These updates can be controlled by IoT device makers as well as original equipment manufacturers which deploy Ubuntu Core on its devices. Although this 10 yearlong maintenance cover is not without a price tag but it’s essential for long-term deployment of hardware by the company.