Microsoft releases open source CentOS-based 'Linux Data Science Virtual Machine' for Azure


Microsoft is both an open source and Linux champion nowadays -- on the surface at least (pun intended). In other words, while it does embrace those things, we may not know the motivation of the Windows-maker regarding them. Regardless, Linux and open source are now important to the Redmond company.

Today, Microsoft announces a CentOS-based VM image for Azure called 'Linux Data Science Virtual Machine'. The VM has pre-installed tools such as Anaconda Python Distribution, Computational Network Toolkit, and Microsoft R Open. It focuses on machine learning and analytics, making it a great choice for data scientists.


"Thanks to Azure's worldwide cloud infrastructure, customers now have on-demand access to a Linux environment to perform a wide range of data science tasks. The VM saves customers the time and effort of having to discover, install, configure and manage these tools individually. Hosting the data science VM on Azure ensures high availability, elastic capacity and a consistent set of tools to foster collaboration across your team", says Gopi Kumar, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Data Group.

Kumar further says, "in about 15 minutes you can standup your own data science VM within your subscription and you'll be ready to jump right into data exploration and modeling immediately. You have full administrative access to the VM and can install additional software as needed. There’s no separate fee to use the VM image. You only pay for actual hardware compute usage of the virtual machine depending on the size of the VM you're provisioning. You can turn off the VM from Azure portal when it's not in use to avoid being billed for usage. When you restart the VM you can continue your work with all data and files intact. You can further augment your analytics on the data science virtual machine by leveraging services in Microsoft Azure and Cortana Intelligence Suite".

READ MORE: Linux can still beat Windows in the desktop war, and Linus Torvalds is 'working on it'

If you want to try this Linux-based image, you can set it up on Azure here. Keep in mind, unless you are a data scientist or analyst that leverages Azure, this probably is not for you.

Are you impressed by Microsoft's continued embrace of Linux and open source? Tell me in the comments.

Photo credit: Sanit Fuangnakhon / Shutterstock

20 Responses to Microsoft releases open source CentOS-based 'Linux Data Science Virtual Machine' for Azure

  1. MyDisqussion says:

    I wonder why they didn't use scientific linux. I'm not sure how this compares to SL. SL is a popular distro in scientific circles because it has many of the tools scientists need, and you know that everyone using it has the same tools.

    It's nice to see Microsoft opening up to various flavours.

    • sn0wflake says:

      If it wasn't CentOS somebody else would have asked why it wasn't that distro. Microsoft has to start somewhere and it's nice to see some form of leadership in the Linux community so developers can now work with some kind of reliable goal in sight, albeit nobody had the imagination that it would be Microsoft that would take the steering wheel.

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      • psycros says:

        CentOS is a darn good distro from everything I've heard lately. It was pretty nice several years ago when I last played with it and I imagine its only gotten better. Pretty newbie-friendly as I recall.

      • MyDisqussion says:

        I only asked because the article says it's for science data tasks. The preferred distro among scientists (like colliders) is SL. That way the scientists know that their counterparts have the same set of tools that they do. They even have their own repos to keep everybody current.

      • sn0wflake says:

        Okay, I dunno. Is it some kind of OS that cant be ported to CentOS in the magic kingdom of Linux or what?

      • MyDisqussion says:

        It's binary compatible with RHEL.

      • sn0wflake says:

        Okay, that great I guess but you didn't answer my question.

      • MyDisqussion says:

        It's nothing to be ported. It's equivalent to CENTOS, but designed for scientists.

      • sn0wflake says:

        Shouldn't it then just be a few programs and scripts that needs an installation script for CentOS? Is SL so impossible to move from one distro to another?

      • MyDisqussion says:

        Think of it kind of like an appliance. You install it and everyone has the same tools. You could do it manually, but SL ensures everyone has the same tools.

      • sn0wflake says:

        Why would Microsoft even choose SL in the first place instead of CentOS?

    • ForteWily says:

      CentOS rather close ties to Redhat are likely the reason. Redhat is now sponsoring the dirsto, much like they have with Fedora over the years. And to be honest that doesn't disqualify SL... since SL much like CentOS is a RHEL-based dirsto, so unless SL does something out of tree, they will likely able to use the VM's

  2. Another_Lurker says:

    Not really, MS' core business is in decline because the only time it really makes sense for most to change the OS and installed software is when the old kit dies or current version goes out of support. In either case that is 5+ years for many. Also, with many SaaS options, the user's OS is largely irrelevant as it is a platform to run a browser.

    MS must adapt or die. Some in Redmond are realizing adapting may require them to move towards open source.

    • roborat says:

      MS' core business is in decline

      Is it? Productivity software in enterprise declining? You sure?

      • Driven says:

        yeah, productivity software can have a much longer life span especially if you don't need the additional "features" they roll out every 3 years to entice you to get the latest productivity software.

      • JamesSB says:

        Yeah, another one who thinks Microsoft is all about Windows. Microsoft isn't a one-trick pony like Apple or Google.

    • BaselCalling says:

      They use open source where it makes sense and proprietary where it makes sense. You may also heard of few SaaS apps such as Office365, Dynamics CRM etc....All companies adapt and Microsoft is a software company. Open source/Proprietary is not really relevant. The big move is from one off payments to a subscription model

  3. roborat says:

    Are you impressed by Microsoft's continued embrace of Linux and open source?

    You can't really be in the cloud/IaaS business by limiting your platform to only your own in-house software wouldn't it?

    Why the surprise?

  4. techagnostic says:

    Where is doltmanlives these days???

    Windows Phone dead and no mention of it at build. More Linux love from Microsoft and Windows PC sales suffer another 9.6% drop.

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