ECS 2020: The Container is a Lie!

Larry Garfield
January 7, 2021

Containers are all the rage these days. They’re fast, they make deployment easy, they handle dependencies, they slice, they dice, they make julienne fries! But... what are they?

What exactly is a container and how does it work? Just how does a container differ from the “old” silver bullet, virtual machines? Here’s a hint: It has nothing to do with boats, or whales, or shipping. That’s all marketing fluff. Containers are simply a shorthand name for leveraging newer features of operating system kernels that let the OS lie to programs about how they’re running. In fact, all the modern software is built on lies. That’s what’s useful about it!

To understand how that works, why it’s so useful, and where it’s not, let’s dive into how the software actually works on a modern Linux system to see how those kernel features fit into the big picture, building up to “containers” along the way. Pull back the veil of lies and see how your computer really works.

Larry Garfield

Larry Garfield

I build things: Systems, communities, knowledge.
I'm a teacher: Sharing knowledge and understanding is in my nature. I'll happily take the time to help someone understand something if they truly want to learn.
I connect things: The IT world is rapidly changing, and I seek to stay on top of what is going on in my industry to steer organizations to where they need to be.
I believe in Free Software: Not just Open Source, but Free Software. Access to information, and participation in the digital world, is a right of every person.

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