Docker wants containers to be the building blocks of interchangeable platforms. The company announced two new open-source projects, the LinuxKit and the Moby Project, at day two of its DockerCon conference in Austin, Texas.
The LinuxKit is a container-native toolkit based on containerd for assembling and distributing a custom operating system or adapting an existing distro. According to Patrick Chanezon, a member of Docker’s technical staff, LinuxKit provides a secure, lean and portable base for the community to collaborate on security innovations, assemble system libraries for Linux features, and optimize with specific hardware. It allows users to create small distributions, isolates containerized system daemons, and provides a container security innovation incubator, which is currently incubating Linux kernel security enhancements such as sandboxing, networking, attestation and exploitation mitigation..
Solomon Hykes, founder and CTO of Docker, said the intent is to eventually donate the LinuxKit to an organization similarly to what the company recently did with its core container runtime containerd. The company is still working out the logistics, and figuring out the right home for the LinuxKit, but Hykes says it will 100% be donated. “We are working on this product in collaboration with the Linux Foundation. There is a lot of excitement in the technology industry in general to have a shared base to incorporate Linux to their respective products as a feature as opposed to standalone Linux products. The [LinuxKit] fills that gap today,” he said.
According to Hykes, since Docker launched four years ago, the open-source community surrounding containers has been rapidly growing into this sophisticated ecosystem. “We are reaching a point where there is a very active community in the open-source world that are familiar with the components we’ve donated, and are eager to build their own custom variations of a container platform,” he said.
Because of this growing community, the company has decided to launch the Moby Project, a collaborative project where the community can experiment and create their own container-based system.
Chanezon explains the Moby Project is comprised of three pieces: A common tooling and testing framework, a library of containerized components, and a reference blueprint.
“In a way the ecosystem has reached a new phase in the level of innovation, and we have determined it is a good time to evolve from a one-size-fits-all approach to innovation to ‘let a thousand flowers bloom’ approach,” said Hykes. “We use the Lego club metaphor where when Lego was really new you had a bunch of kids all building the same castle together. Now it has reached a point where different groups of kids want to go in their corner and build their own custom variation of the castle, but it is still useful to have a big box full of pieces for everyone to share. That is what the Moby Project is.”
According to Hykes, Docker is trying to do what Red Hat did for the Linux world with the Moby Project. In the early 2000s, the major commercial sponsor of the Linux movement, Red Hat, announced the collaborative project Fedora to help scale the Linux community. “Today we are playing that role of the primary commercial sponsor of the container movement, and we are ensuring this project as a way to help scale the container community,” he said.