Red Hat adds muscle to Docker container technology

Red Hat plans to incorporate advanced Linux tools such as systemd and SELinux into Docker

Red Hat is looking to advance the Docker Linux container application for wider enterprise use.

"Containers are all about streamlining the movement of the application to the cloud," said Paul Cormier, Red Hat president for products and technologies, during a press conference at the company's Red Hat Summit in San Francisco Tuesday.

The open-source enterprise software company is planning to release a variant of its flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribution that is customized to run Docker with maximum efficiency. It has also started two community projects to help Docker make better use of new technologies in the Linux kernel and ecosystem.

Docker is an application container that provides a way to package an application in a virtual container so that it can be run across different Linux distributions.

Docker has generated much interest among technologists since its debut a year ago.

Like virtual machines (VMs), Docker containers can be easily moved across different Linux servers without the need for reconfiguration.

Unlike VMs though, which run on hypervisors, a docker container uses the server's own OS kernel, which cuts file size and improves performance. It also reduces the amount of maintenance needed, since fewer OSes need to be patched and maintained in a container environment.

Red Hat's new community effort, called Project Atomic, will concentrate on simplifying maintenance, reducing the footprint, and adding additional layers of verification and control to Docker containers.

Project Atomic will use advanced Linux technologies such as the systemd process manager and the SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux) security controls.

Red Hat will incorporate the Project Atomic work into a variant of RHEL, to be called Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host. This distribution will be issued alongside RHEL 7.

Select customers will be able to test the new technologies prior to their release with RHEL 7, according to the company.

Red Hat has also started a second community project, called GearD, to integrate Docker into its PaaS (platform-as-a-service) hosting software, OpenShift Origin.

GearD will focus on providing ways to integrate application containers with code management tools such as Git. It will also look for ways to better orchestrate the management and movement of containers across multiple hosts.

Red Hat is not alone among Linux distributors in its enthusiasm for Docker. The latest server version of Canonical's Ubuntu distribution, due to be released Thursday, also contains Docker.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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