Red Hat Docker-Centric Atomic Host Linux Distro Debuts

By Sean Michael Kerner  |  Posted 2015-03-05 Print this article Print


While Red Hat Atomic Host is an optimized host for Docker containers, the new release doesn't quite yet include the latest technologies from the upstream open-source Docker project. Docker 1.5 was released Feb. 10, but that's not the version of Docker that Red Hat Atomic Host currently includes. Docker 1.5 includes a number of important new capabilities such as improved IPv6 support, security improvements and a statistics API for container visibility.

"The version of the Docker engine in Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host is 1.4.1," Ghosh said. "Docker 1.5 was not available in time for this release, but we plan to make Docker 1.5 features available in an update release in a few weeks."   

The upstream Docker project has also been active in recent weeks with the launch of the Docker Machine, Swarm and Compose efforts which entered public beta Feb. 26. Docker Machine is a technology that enables the Docker Engine—the application virtualization piece of Docker—to be quickly deployed on any server. Docker Swarm provides Docker container clustering capabilities, and Docker Compose enables multiple containers to be pulled together to run a single logical application.

"At this time, Red Hat Enterprise Linux does not support Machine, Swarm or Compose, although we are reviewing the capabilities of these frameworks with our customers and keeping an eye on activities and progress within upstream projects," Ghosh said. "We made a strategic decision for Kubernetes as our orchestration engine across our platform portfolio to enable enterprise container portability."

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1

Alongside the Red Hat Atomic Host launch, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 is generally available today. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 first entered public beta in December 2014 and includes new security features.

Among the features is a new security certificate authority as part of the identity management system. Support for two-factor authentication has also been improved in the new release as well.

Ghosh noted that Docker can also run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1; however, the benefit of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host is that it's optimized purely for running containers out of the box.

"From storage tuning to kernel settings, everything about Atomic Host is centered on the container from the get-go," Ghosh said, "as opposed to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1, which provides general support for Linux containers while remaining flexible enough to support other infrastructure needs."

Another benefit of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host for Linux container deployments is that, as a minimal footprint container host, it contains significantly fewer packages that must be managed and updated, Ghosh said.

Red Hat sells its platform product on an enterprise subscription model basis.

"Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host is a deployment option for most Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server subscriptions and is not a stand-alone offering," Ghosh said. "Customers can choose to deploy via RPMs [Red Hat Package Manager files] if they want the full control and flexibility of a Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 installation, or they can deploy Atomic Host to take advantage of Linux containers."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.


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