Container Virtualization Comeback with Docker

Container Terminal


Namespacing also plays a central role in Linux when it comes to security. Cgroups do not primarily exist to demarcate processes; instead, they tend to manage resources. Security aspects are the domain of namespaces: Namespaces can be used to hide individual processes or Cgroups from other processes or Cgroups.

This technology is also highly granular: Namespaces distinguish between process IDs, network access, access to the shared hostname, mountpoints, or interprocess communication (IPC). Network namespaces are now quite popular, for example, to separate packets from multiple users on the same host. A process within a namespace cannot see – and certainly not tap into – either the host interface or the interfaces in the namespaces of other customers.

Although Cgroups and namespaces are nice features in their own right, they become an attractive virtualization technology as a team. The ability to combine processes in manageable groups, subsequently to limit their options, leads to a simple but effective container approach. LXC offers these functions, and Docker builds on them.

Portable Containers

Docker, however, adds many practical features on top. Probably the most important function is portable containers. In Docker, moving existing containers between two hosts is easy. In pure LXC, this action is more like a stunt; ultimately, it involves manually moving the files – not exactly a convenient operation. Additionally, a user has no guarantee that the whole thing will actually be successful. Containers in "pure" LXC are highly dependent on the environment in which they run (e.g., system A). If target system B is not at least similar, the game is over before it even gets started. The problem here involves various factors, such as the distribution used or the hardware available for the container.

The Docker developers have designed their own container format to make things easier. Docker abstracts the resources that a VM sees and takes care of communication with the physical system itself. The services that run within a Docker container therefore always see the same system. If you now move a container from one system to another, Docker handles most of the work. The user exports the container to the Docker format invented for this purpose, drags the file to another computer, and restores the container in Docker – all done!

The Docker Philosophy

If you look more closely at Docker, you will quickly realize that the Docker developers have different basic views on containers than, for example, the people behind LXC. The Docker developers themselves describe their approach as application-centric. This means the application running within a Docker container is the really important aspect, not the container itself.

LXC is popular in developer circles, because an LXC container can be used as a fast-booting substitute for a complete virtual machine. In Docker, this is not the real issue; instead, the idea is that a container can be a small but friendly environment for almost any application. Against this background, it becomes clear what the container feature is all about: The core motivation in inventing this feature was achieving the ability to move apps quickly from one host to another as appliances.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy ADMIN Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs

Support Our Work

ADMIN content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you've found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More”>


		<div class=