Container microdistributions k3OS and Flatcar

Micro Cures

Conclusions

Microdistributions are the logical next step of automation in a world where containers are becoming increasingly relevant. Clearly, all major Linux distributors see the future of Linux servers in the container camp. Because a great deal of functionality that used to run on the system itself can now be bundled into containers, it is a wonderful opportunity to remove complexity from a setup.

This scenario is exactly what k3OS and Flatcar are aiming for: The running system should have as few loose parts as possible. The few components that are still needed are already included in both approaches. That k3OS specializes in the Kubernetes distribution K3s and that Flatcar prefers to target users of the previous CoreOS is only a side issue.

Admins should follow the container subject anyway, which is likely to become more necessary than ever in the future, and k3OS and Flatcar offer good approaches to understanding the principle. RHEL 8 now offers container-based package directories that integrate seamlessly with the management tools.

Quite possibly Podman and the like will eventually herald the end of RPM and Dpkg. From a distributor's point of view, programs that find their way to the users in container form offer an unbeatable advantage. Instead of maintaining a specific program for each version of a distribution, with containers, it is sufficient to have exactly one container with the appropriate program for all supported distributions. Canonical has already reaped the rewards on the desktop in Ubuntu, so applications like Chromium are only included as Snaps out of the box.

If the principle works – and that's the way it looks at the moment – the established manufacturers are likely to consider going exclusively down this path. The future remains exciting.

The Author

Martin Gerhard Loschwitz is Cloud Platform Architect at Drei Austria and works on topics such as OpenStack, Kubernetes and Ceph.

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