Docker Acquires Kitematic for Desktop Container Deployment Technology

Kitematic, an open-source project that received funding from the government of Canada, could help to push Docker technology onto more systems.


Docker Inc., the lead commercial sponsor behind the Docker open-source container application virtualization technology, today announced that it has acquired privately held Kitematic. Financial terms of the deal are not being publicly disclosed.

Kitematic is an open-source project that enables users to easily deploy and run Docker containers on a desktop operating system. Although Kitematic currently supports Apple's Mac OS X only, its development roadmap includes plans for a Windows version in the coming months.

As a project, Kitematic doesn't have any venture funding, but rather was jump-started by way of winning a competition at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Sean Li, co-founder of Kitematic, explained that the University of Waterloo has a competition, called Velocitiy, for new company ideas every school term, with the winner being awarded $25,000. Kitematic won the prize in 2013 and was able to secure an additional $25,000 by way of a Government of Canada Jumpstart grant.

The name Kitematic is intended to be descriptive of what the technology is all about.

"The kite part is that you're on the ground, and you have strings that you can control something that is in the cloud," Li told eWEEK. "Kitematic is something on your computer, and you're controlling the cloud in a way, with the 'matic' part implying that it's automated."

The Kitematic technology is built with several open-source components. Li explained that Kitematic is largely built in Atom Shell, which is an open-source cross-platform framework for writing desktop applications.

"Kitematic is basically a Web application that is put inside a shell that makes it feel like a native desktop application," Li said.

Kitematic also leverages the open-source Oracle VirtualBox technology as the virtualization hypervisor layer on which Kitematic runs. On top of VirtualBox, Kitematic is also leveraging the open-source boot2docker project in order to get the Docker engine running.

The Kitematic application presents users with a functional interface that enables application discovery from the Docker Hub registry of dockerized applications. Applications can be downloaded from Docker Hub and directly installed to run inside of Kitematic's Docker host.

As a Docker deployment tool, there is a lot of potential for Kitematic's technology, Li said. "Right now, our focus is to get people on Windows to be able to use Docker and make it really easy so that users can be up and running with Docker within a couple of minutes," Li said.

Now that Kitematic is part of Docker Inc., Li is more enthusiastic than ever about the future of the technology project he helped to start. "We're an autonomous team still running a community open-source project, but now we have lots of awesome people at Docker to help us out, which is great," Li said.

Kitematic is the second acquisition that Docker Inc. has made so far in 2015. On March 4, Docker announced the purchase of Docker software-defined networking (SDN) vendor SocketPlane.

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

Editor's Note: This story was updated to correct the spelling of SocketPlane.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.