Rackspace, one of the main backers of OpenStack, has added a free ARM-based environment for testing the open source cloud deployment project.

TryStack is a sandbox for developers to test a live version of the two most recent OpenStack software releases, dubbed Diablo and Essex. It now supports both an x86 zone and an ARM-powered zone, Rackspace announced Wednesday at OSCON, the open source convention in Portland, Ore.

The move represents an effort to continually increase options for the developer community, says Mark Collier, vice president of marketing and business development for OpenStack at Rackspace, who called ARM chips "radically more efficient" hardware. The ARM-based zone within TryStack was developed by Calxeda, Canonical and HP, with data centre space provided by Core NAP.

OpenStack is celebrating its two-year anniversary this week, but in the past few months the project has seen increased competition. Citrix largely backed out of the OpenStack project to create a separate open source cloud project named CloudStack, which is managed by the Apache Software Foundation. Meanwhile, one of the original open source cloud projects, Eucalyptus, continues to cultivate its community and update its code as well.

OpenStack is preparing the next round of code, named Folsom, to be released this fall. It is expected to include a virtualised networking project by Quantum as a core part of the OpenStack code.