Photo by Nathan Cima on Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Cima on Unsplash

Containers made simple

Fully Automated

Article from ADMIN 74/2023
The Portainer graphical management interface makes it easy to deploy containers, relieving you of huge amounts of routine work you would normally have to handle with Docker, Podman, or Kubernetes. However, the licensing structure leaves something to be desired.

Container virtualization is not a new invention; in fact, it wasn't that even 10 years ago when Docker made it socially acceptable on Linux. Much to the chagrin of many administrators, there is still have a long way to go to achieve everything positive claimed by the container vendors. Many system administrators dealing with containers for the first time give up in frustration: It seems you have to learn a new language to find your way around the dictionary of container terms, and each platform has individual concepts that need to be understood. No matter how you spin it, not much is left of the once loudly trumpeted promise of easy container handling on Linux.

That complexity doesn't have to be the case, claims Portainer, which provides administrators a tool that, according to the manufacturer, keeps them more or less blissfully unaware of the entire container circus. With a simple web-based interface, you tell Portainer which containers to roll out and in what state. According to the advertising material, the program then takes care of the rest autonomously, supporting a variety of solutions from plain vanilla Docker to a deployment with Kubernetes. Support for ready-made Kubernetes distributions from the major hyperscalers is explicitly part of the package, which means you no longer have to deal with Kubernetes itself in detail.

These claims are reason enough to take a closer look under the Portainer hood: Is it really the panacea for administrators who need to deliver containers quickly? What are the differences between the available Portainer editions? How easy is the setup? How much does this fun cost? How quickly does it deliver results?

The Basics

One of the big problems with the container universe on Linux is the enormous number of (supposedly) helpful third-party tools. You'd be hard pressed to keep track of everything, so it makes sense to start the investigation of

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