Podman

Managing containerized system services with Podman

Managing containerized system services with Podman

In this article, I discuss containers, but look at them from another angle. We usually refer to containers as the best technology for developing new cloud-native applications and orchestrating them with something like Kubernetes. Looking back at the origins of containers, we’ve mostly forgotten that containers were born for simplifying application distribution on standalone systems.

In this article, we’ll talk about the use of containers as the perfect medium for installing applications and services on a Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) system. Using containers doesn’t have to be complicated, I’ll show how to run MariaDB, Apache HTTPD, and WordPress in containers, while managing those containers like any other service, through systemd and systemctl.

Additionally, we’ll explore Podman, which Red Hat has developed jointly with the Fedora community. If you don’t know what Podman is yet, see my previous article, Intro to Podman (Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6) and Tom Sweeney’s Containers without daemons: Podman and Buildah available in RHEL 7.6 and RHEL 8 Beta.

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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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Intro to Podman (Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 Beta)

Intro to Podman (Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 Beta)

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.6 Beta was released a few days ago and one of the first new features I noticed is Podman. Podman complements Buildah and Skopeo by offering an experience similar to the Docker command line: allowing users to run standalone (non-orchestrated) containers. And Podman doesn’t require a daemon to run containers and pods, so we can easily say goodbye to big fat daemons.

Podman implements almost all the Docker CLI commands (apart from the ones related to Docker Swarm, of course). For container orchestration, I suggest you take a look at Kubernetes and Red Hat OpenShift.

Podman consists of just a single command to run on the command line. There are no daemons in the background doing stuff, and this means that Podman can be integrated into system services through systemd.

We’ll cover some real examples that show how easy it can be to transition from the Docker CLI to Podman.

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