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Blog | Tessia

What is Tessia?

By | October 26, 2023

Tessia is an open-source tool that automates and simplifies the installation, configuration, and testing of Linux on Z systems. Although the project originally started off as an internal IBM project and was open-sourced in 2020, the team is now keen to reach a broader audience.

In this episode of TFiR: Mainframe Matters, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with two guests from IBM — Kuriakose George, Lead for the Tessia Project in the Open Mainframe Project, and Sybille Kurz, Team Manager for the Tessia Project. They talk about the key focuses of the project, the community around it, and what they are working on in the near future.

Key highlights from this video interview are:

  • Tessia, which stands for Task Executive System and Software Installation Assistant, is a tool that helps users install an operating system on Z servers and automate their tasks on these particular systems.
  • George explains that Tessia is used extensively by their teams who want to do any form of tests or implementations on the Z server. He describes how it helps automate tasks using a command line interface or a web interface. He discusses how teams are using the tool for automating their installations, running regression tests, and running performance tests on z servers.
  • George discusses the level of support they provide in terms of the lifecycle of the distributions such as for backward compatibility and testing purposes. Since Red Hat is a core partner of IBM, the development teams also test all the beta versions using the Tessia environment as the base.
  • Developers can add their own distros but George tells us that they are officially currently working with SUSE, Canonical, and Linux, supporting them internally. However, users can implement their own operating systems and distros into the systems.
  • The Tessia Project was initiated around 2017 or 2018, although at the time it was mainly an internal project. However, when IBM joined the Open Mainframe Project in 2020, the idea was open-sourced.
  • George tells us that they currently have 33-35 projects within the IBM internal version. He talks about some of the scenarios where it is used internally, such as by the Linux development team and others to automate the installation and run tests on top of that using Ansible.
  • The Tessia Project has seen consistent growth within the team and by adopters. However, George feels that the open source part of Tessia is still to kick off, and reaching a broader audience is a key part of that.
  • The project has reached a pivotal moment as it is now looking for new ideas and talking to IBM customers in order to reach that broader audience.
  • One of the key challenges of open source is that you need to cater to the changing needs of others, such as the various changes in the distros. Any modifications or changes also need to be modified or adjusted for IBM’s internal purposes too.
  • George discusses the community around Tessia Project saying that it is highly pushed by the team’s activities, which has undergone a certain amount of restructuring.
  • George was recently made aware of the Linux working group and hopes to work with them in the future. Kurz explains that they are looking at different projects where they can contribute and can work with other teams together to use other open-source tools to make installation and configuration of systems more effective.
  • George talks about their key focuses saying they are working on an updated version of the architecture of Tessia. He goes on to talk about their development activities for 2023 and how they are making new versions available for their internal teams while still serving their user base.

This summary was written by Emily Nicholls. Learn more about Tessia here