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Canonical adds instance tweaking to Multipass, Confidential VMs to Azure

The days of destroying and rebuilding to add another CPU core are numbered

Never one to shy away from tootling its own trumpet, Ubuntu Linux maker Canonical has talked up the instance modification features of version 1.10 of its lightweight VM manager, Multipass.

Multipass is a handy tool for developers seeking to simulate a small cloud deployment on a workstation (so long as Ubuntu is your thing, of course) and – unlike something like Microsoft's Windows Subsystem for Linux – will straddle platforms using KVM in Linux, HyperKit on macOS, and Hyper-V on Windows.

The Canonical team has been quietly working away on the platform over the years and recently released version 1.10, a major update of which is the ability to modify the RAM use, disk space, and CPU core of existing instances. While it is a little surprising that it has taken so long for something that VM wranglers usually take for granted to arrive, the update is a welcome for developers less than keen to destroy and rebuild an instance just to add a bit more RAM.

Other changes include the ability for Windows users to fire up Generation 2 VMs through Hyper-V, replete with UEFI firmware support and secure boot. Again, a while coming but also welcome nonetheless. Mounts may also be specified at launch time using multipass launch --mount and a URL can be used when using the --cloud-init option in launch.

Mac fans clinging on to the past should also take note: version 1.10 will be the last that will run on macOS 10.14 (Mojave.) From 1.11, Multipass will require macOS 10.15 (Catalina) or later.

Canonical also announced that Ubuntu Confidential VMs (CVMs) had made it to general availability on Microsoft Azure.

The technology is part of the Microsoft Azure DCasv5/ECasv5 series, based on AMD processors with Secure Encrypted Virtualization-Secure Nested Paging (SEV-SNP) functionality. The Windows giant trumpeted the tech at July's Inspire event and Canonical bragged that "Ubuntu 20.04 is the first and only Linux distribution to support Confidential VMs on Azure."

The theory goes that VMs are secured throughout their lifetime, at run-time, at rest and at boot-time. "Your trusted computing base is dramatically reduced to your application and the platform's underlying hardware CPU, and nothing else," the Linux distro maker explained. "In other words, a compromised host OS or an angry cloud administrator can no longer access your data nor alter your code's execution."

Installers for Multipass can be found for Windows and macOS (we used macOS Monterey on a M1 Mac in our testing) and, this being Canonical, there is also the inevitable Snap. ®

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