What Are Linux Containers?

Everyone (and The Register) talks about Linux containers these days like they would be the hottest thing invented this spring. In reality, it’s a seven year old technology that was heavily used by some smart web hosting companies for years (but of course some people think mentioning Google makes everything look sexier).

If you’re interested in a high-level overview of differences between Linux containers and more traditional virtual machines, watch the video from the Introduction to Virtual Networking webinar.

3 comments:

  1. Yes, I'm amazed old technologies are made to look new and novel by the mainstream tech media.
    I remember more than 10 years ago I used to have servers hosted with SWSoft's VPS which also uses OS-level virtualisation.
    Before we know it, it's all back to square one using a shared DLLs on single instance of OS on physical hardware - how ironic would that be?

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  2. I've used all the common container methods in Linux for many years now (vserver, openvz, lxc) and you are right - they've been around for years, but even as a seasoned Linux admin, LXC is terribly difficulty to work with. The reason it's all the rage now is because somebody (the Docker.io project) abstracted away a lot of the rough-edges of LXC and made it consumable for mere mortals.

    Because of some of the features it brings to the table (notably union filesystems against base images), developers can reliably re-create the same environments consistently, and it provides a very easy way to share images with others.

    Another reason LXC is being more broadly adopted is one of it's long-standing issues is now resolved (user-name space separation). root in container is no longer equivalent to root on the host-node.

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  3. @Chris Bennett: +1. This container renaissance is all about user experience. Docker has a lot of refinements in its design.

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Ivan Pepelnjak, CCIE#1354, is the chief technology advisor for NIL Data Communications. He has been designing and implementing large-scale data communications networks as well as teaching and writing books about advanced technologies since 1990. See his full profile, contact him or follow @ioshints on Twitter.