Tom Sweeney

Working on containers for Red Hat. At home contained by wife and 3 kids, at least some of the time!

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Build and run Buildah inside a Podman container

Build and run Buildah inside a Podman container

This past Christmas I gave my wife a set of nesting dolls similar to Russian Matryoshka dolls. If you’re not familiar with them, they consist of a wooden doll, which opens to reveal another doll, inside which you’ll find another doll, and so on until you get to the smallest and often most ornate doll of them all.  This concept got me thinking about nesting containers.

I thought I’d try building my own nesting container using Podman to create a container in which I could do Buildah development and also spin up Buildah containers and images. Once this Podman container was created, I could move it to any Linux platform that supported Podman and do development on Buildah from it. In this article, I’ll show how I set it up.

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Containers without daemons: Podman and Buildah available in RHEL 7.6 and RHEL 8

Containers without daemons: Podman and Buildah available in RHEL 7.6 and RHEL 8

Kubernetes installations can be complex with multiple runtime dependencies and runtime engines. CRI-O was created to provide a lightweight runtime for Kubernetes which adds an abstraction layer between the cluster and the runtime that allows for various OCI runtime technologies. However you still have the problem of depending on daemon(s) in your cluster for builds – I.e. if you are using the cluster for builds you still need a Docker daemon.

Enter Buildah. Buildah allows you to have a Kubernetes cluster without any Docker daemon for both runtime and builds. Excellent. But what if things go wrong? What if you want to do troubleshooting or debugging of containers in your cluster? Buildah isn’t really built for that, what you need is a client tool for working with containers and the one that comes to mind is Docker CLI – but then you’re back to using the daemon.

This is where Podman steps in. Podman allows you to do all of the Docker commands without the daemon dependency. To see examples of Podman replacing the docker command, see Alessandro Arrichiello’s Intro to Podman and Doug Tidwell’s Podman—The next generation of Linux container tools.

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