Podman: Managing pods and containers in a local container runtime
People associate running pods with Kubernetes. And when they run containers in their development runtimes, they do not even think about the role pods could play—even in a localized runtime. Most people coming from the Docker world of running single containers do not envision the concept of running pods. There are several good reasons to consider using pods locally, other than using pods to naturally group your containers.
For example, suppose you have multiple containers that require the use of a MariaDB container. But you would prefer to not bind that database to a routable network; either in your bridge or further. Using a pod, you could bind to the
localhost address of the pod and all containers in that pod will be able to connect to it because of the shared network name space.
Podman Pods: what you need to know
Every Podman pod includes an “infra” container. This container does nothing, but go to sleep. Its purpose is to hold the namespaces associated with the pod and allow podman to connect other containers to the pod. This allows you to start and stop containers within the POD and the pod will stay running, where as if the primary container controlled the pod, this would not be possible. The default infra container is based on the
k8s.gcr.io/pause image, Unless you explicitly say otherwise, all pods will have container based on the default image.
Most of the attributes that make up the Pod are actually assigned to the “infra” container. Port bindings, cgroup-parent values, and kernel namespaces are all assigned to the “infra” container. This is critical to understand, because once the pod is created these attributes are assigned to the “infra” container and cannot be changed. For example, if you create a pod and then later decide you want to add a container that binds new ports, Podman will not be able to do this. You would need to recreate the pod with the additional port bindings before adding the new container.
In the above diagram, notice the box above each container, conmon, this is the container monitor. It is a small C Program that’s job is to watch the primary process of the container, and if the container dies, save the exit code. It also holds open the tty of the container, so that it can be attached to later. This is what allows podman to run in detached mode (backgrounded), so podman can exit but conmon continues to run. Each container has its own instance of conmon.
The CLI: podman pod
We expose most of the interaction with pods through the
podman pod commands. Among other actions, you can use
podman pod to create, delete, query, and inspect pods. You can see all the pod related commands by running
podman pod without any arguments.
$ sudo podman pod NAME: podman pod - Manage container pods. Pods are a group of one or more containers sharing the same network, pid and ipc namespaces. USAGE: podman pod command [command options] [arguments...] COMMANDS: create Create a new empty pod exists Check if a pod exists in local storage inspect displays a pod configuration kill Send the specified signal or SIGKILL to containers in pod pause Pause one or more pods ps, ls, list List pods restart Restart one or more pods rm Remove one or more pods start Start one or more pods stats Display percentage of CPU, memory, network I/O, block I/O and PIDs for containers in one or more pods stop Stop one or more pods top Display the running processes of containers in a pod unpause Unpause one or more pods OPTIONS: --help, -h show help
Create a pod
The traditional way to create a pod with Podman is using the
podman pod create command.
$ sudo podman pod create --help NAME: podman pod create - Create a new empty pod USAGE: podman pod create [command options] [arguments...] DESCRIPTION: Creates a new empty pod. The pod ID is then printed to stdout. You can then start it at any time with the podman pod start <pod_id> command. The pod will be created with the initial state 'created'. OPTIONS: --cgroup-parent value Set parent cgroup for the pod --infra Create an infra container associated with the pod to share namespaces with --infra-command value The command to run on the infra container when the pod is started (default: "/pause") --infra-image value The image of the infra container to associate with the pod (default: "k8s.gcr.io/pause:3.1") --label value, -l value Set metadata on pod (default ) --label-file value Read in a line delimited file of labels (default ) --name value, -n value Assign a name to the pod --pod-id-file value Write the pod ID to the file --publish value, -p value Publish a container's port, or a range of ports, to the host (default ) --share value A comma delimited list of kernel namespaces the pod will share (default: "cgroup,ipc,net,uts")
In its most basic context, you can simply issue
podman pod create and Podman will create a pod without extra attributes. A random name will also be assigned to the pod.
$ sudo podman pod create 9e0a57248aedc453e7b466d73ef769c99e35d265d97f6fa287442083246f3762
We can list the pods using the
podman pod list command:
$ sudo podman pod list POD ID NAME STATUS CREATED # OF CONTAINERS INFRA ID 9e0a57248aed youthful_jones Running 5 seconds ago 1 6074ffd22b93
Note that the container has a single container in it. The container is the “infra” command. We can further observe this using the
podman ps command by passing the command line switch *–pod*.
$ sudo podman ps -a --pod CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES POD 6074ffd22b93 k8s.gcr.io/pause:3.1 3 minutes ago Up 3 minutes ago 9e0a57248aed-infra 9e0a57248aed
Here we can see that the pod ID from
podman ps matches the pod id in
podman pod list. And the container image is the same as the default “infra” container image.
Add a container to a pod
You can add a container to a pod using the *–pod* option in the
podman create and
podman run commands. For example, here we add a container running **top** to the newly created *youthful_jones* pod. Notice the use of *–pod*.
$ sudo podman run -dt --pod youthful_jones docker.io/library/alpine:latest top 0f62e6dcdfdbf3921a7d73353582fa56a545502c89f0dfcb8736ce7be61c9271
And now two containers exist in our pod.
$ sudo podman pod ps POD ID NAME STATUS CREATED # OF CONTAINERS INFRA ID 9e0a57248aed youthful_jones Running 7 minutes ago 2 6074ffd22b93
Looking at the list of containers, we also see each container and their respective pod assignment.
$ sudo podman ps -a --pod CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES POD 0f62e6dcdfdb docker.io/library/alpine:latest top 14 seconds ago Up 14 seconds ago awesome_archimedes 9e0a57248aed 6074ffd22b93 k8s.gcr.io/pause:3.1 7 minutes ago Up 7 minutes ago 9e0a57248aed-infra 9e0a57248aed
Shortcut to create pods
We recently added the ability to create pods via the
podman run and
podman create commands. One upside to creating a pod with this approach is that the normal port bindings declared for the container will be assigned automatically to the “infra” container. However, if you need to specify more granular options for pod creation like kernel namespaces or different “infra” container image usage, you still need to create the pod manually as was first described. Nevertheless, for relatively basic pod creations, the shortcut is handy. As this feature was recent added, it isn’t available in the version of Podman included with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 and 8 Beta.
To create a new pod with your new container, you simply pass *–pod*:
new:<name>. The use of **new:** indicates to Podman that you want to create a new pod rather than attempt to assign the container to an existing pod.
To create a nginx container within a pod and expose port 80 from the container to port 32597 on the host, you would:
$ sudo podman run -dt --pod new:nginx -p 32597:80 quay.io/libpod/alpine_nginx:latest ac8839fc7dead8e391e7983ad8d0c27ce311d190b0a8eb72dcde535de272d537 $ curl http://localhost:32597 podman rulez
And here is what it looks like when listing containers:
$ sudo podman ps -ap CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES POD ac8839fc7dea quay.io/libpod/alpine_nginx:latest nginx -g daemon o... 4 minutes ago Up 4 minutes ago happy_cray 3e4cad88f8c2 c2f7c5651275 k8s.gcr.io/pause:3.1 4 minutes ago Up 4 minutes ago 0.0.0.0:32597->80/tcp 3e4cad88f8c2-infra 3e4cad88f8c2
The following asciinema demo shows how to create a pod via the shortcut method. The container being run is a MariaDB container image and I bind only to its 127.0.0.1 address. This means only containers in the same pod will able to access it. I then run an alpine container, install the MariaDB-client package, connect to the database itself, and show defined databases.
Pods and container management
In Podman, the status of the pod and its containers can be exclusive to each other meaning that containers within pods can be restarted, stopped, and started without impacting the status of the pod. Suppose we have a pod called
demodb and it contains two containers (and an “infra” container) running a MariaDB and a nginx session.
$ sudo podman pod ps POD ID NAME STATUS CREATED # OF CONTAINERS INFRA ID fa7924a5196c demodb Running About a minute ago 3 3005ed8491d0 $ sudo podman ps -p CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES POD 02e37a3b9873 quay.io/libpod/alpine_nginx:latest nginx -g daemon o... 4 minutes ago Up 4 minutes ago optimistic_edison fa7924a5196c 2597454063f8 quay.io/baude/mariadbpoddemo:latest docker-entrypoint... 4 minutes ago Up 4 minutes ago eloquent_golick fa7924a5196c
If we wanted to stop and start the nginx container, the status of the MariaDB container and the pod itself will remain unchanged.
$ sudo podman stop optimistic_edison 02e37a3b987300e9124b61820119ae425c5e496b907800ecaf1194a3f50e5dcc
With the nginx container stopped, we can still observe the
demopod is running and the MariaDB container remains unchanged.
$ sudo podman pod ps POD ID NAME STATUS CREATED # OF CONTAINERS INFRA ID fa7924a5196c demodb Running 5 minutes ago 3 3005ed8491d0 $ sudo podman ps -p CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES POD 2597454063f8 quay.io/baude/mariadbpoddemo:latest docker-entrypoint... 5 minutes ago Up 5 minutes ago eloquent_golick fa7924a5196c
And we can start the nginx container to restore the pod back to its original state.
$ sudo podman start optimistic_edison optimistic_edison $ sudo podman ps -p CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES POD 02e37a3b9873 quay.io/libpod/alpine_nginx:latest nginx -g daemon o... 8 minutes ago Up 6 seconds ago optimistic_edison fa7924a5196c 2597454063f8 quay.io/baude/mariadbpoddemo:latest docker-entrypoint... 8 minutes ago Up 8 minutes ago eloquent_golick fa7924a5196c
We can also stop the pod and all of its containers using the
podman pod stop command.
$ sudo podman pod stop demodb fa7924a5196cb403298ad2ce24f0db30a3790e80729c7704ef5fdc27302f7ad0 $ sudo podman ps -ap CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES POD 02e37a3b9873 quay.io/libpod/alpine_nginx:latest nginx -g daemon o... 10 minutes ago Exited (0) 21 seconds ago optimistic_edison fa7924a5196c 2597454063f8 quay.io/baude/mariadbpoddemo:latest docker-entrypoint... 10 minutes ago Exited (0) 19 seconds ago eloquent_golick fa7924a5196c 3005ed8491d0 k8s.gcr.io/pause:3.1 10 minutes ago Exited (0) 19 seconds ago 0.0.0.0:43871->3306/tcp fa7924a5196c-infra fa7924a5196c
And if we look at the status of the pod, it will show a state of “Exited”.
$ sudo podman pod ps POD ID NAME STATUS CREATED # OF CONTAINERS INFRA ID fa7924a5196c demodb Exited 13 minutes ago 3 3005ed8491d0
Likewise, we can also start the pod and all of its containers back up. After which, all the containers in the pod should be running and the pod should show a status of “Running”.
$ sudo podman pod start demodb fa7924a5196cb403298ad2ce24f0db30a3790e80729c7704ef5fdc27302f7ad0 $ sudo podman ps -p CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES POD 02e37a3b9873 quay.io/libpod/alpine_nginx:latest nginx -g daemon o... 14 minutes ago Up 5 seconds ago optimistic_edison fa7924a5196c 2597454063f8 quay.io/baude/mariadbpoddemo:latest docker-entrypoint... 14 minutes ago Up 4 seconds ago eloquent_golick fa7924a5196c $ sudo podman pod ps POD ID NAME STATUS CREATED # OF CONTAINERS INFRA ID fa7924a5196c demodb Running 14 minutes ago 3 3005ed8491d0
There is also a
podman pod restart command that will restart all the containers within a Pod.
The ability for Podman to handle pod deployment is a clear differentiator to other container runtimes. As a libpod maintainer, I am still realizing the advantages of having pods even in a localized runtime. There will most certainly be more development in Podman around pods as we learn how users exploit the use of them.
Podman is included with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 as well as Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 beta.
More about Podman on the Red Hat Developer Blog
- Containers without daemons: Podman and Buildah available in RHEL 7.6 and RHEL 8 Beta
- Podman – The next generation of Linux container tools
- Intro to Podman (New in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6)
- Managing containerized system services with Podman
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