Open-source software giant Red Hat said on Thursday that its new operating system custom made to power Linux containers is now available to download. Red Hat has been a big proponent of Docker and its container packing technology going back as far as last summer touting its support of the startup and making sure its Enterprise Linux 7 product was compatible with Docker’s technology.
Container technology has generated a lot of buzz over the past year by promising a type of virtualization that’s lighter weight than your typical virtual machine. In order for a container to actually run, it needs to be connected to a host Linux OS that can distribute the necessary system resources to that container.
While you could use a typical Linux-based OS to power up your containers, as CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi (whose own startup offers a competing container-focussed OS) told me last summer, these kinds of operating systems merely get the job done and don’t take full advantage of what containers have to offer.
Red Hat’s new OS supposedly comes packed with features designed to make running containerized applications less of a chore to manage. These features include an easier way to update the operating system (OS updates can often be a pain for IT admins) and an integration with Google’s Kubernetes container-orchestration service for spinning up and managing multiple containers.
The new OS is also promising better security for those Docker containers — which has been an issue that Docker’s team has been addressing in various updates — with a supposed stronger way of isolating containers from each other when they are dispersed in a distributed environment.
Of course, Red Hat has some competition when it comes to becoming the preferred OS of container-based applications. CoreOS has its own container-centric OS and Ubuntu has its Snappy Ubuntu Core system for powering Docker containers. Additionally, a couple of the former Cloud.com veterans who recently departed Citrix in September have started their own startup called Rancher Labs that just released RancherOS, which the startup describes as a “minimalist Linux distribution that was perfect for running Docker containers.”
It will be worth keeping an eye on which OS gains traction in the container marketplace and whether we will see some of these new operating systems starting to offer support for CoreOS’s new Rocket-container technology as opposed to just the Docker platform.
A Red Hat spokesperson wrote to me in an email that “Red Hat Enterprise Linux-based containers are not supported on CoreOS and rocket is not supported with Atomic Host. We are, as always, continuing to evaluate new additions in the world of containers, including Rocket, with respect to our customer needs.”