What the heck’s a Unikernel? And why should you care

July 1, 2016

Just when the tech world was starting to get their heads around containers, along come unikernels.  Like containers, unikernels have been around in some form or another for quite awhile.  Their resurgence has to do in large part to their container-like functionality.  In a nutshell, unikernels combine an uber-stripped down version of an OS packaged with an individual app or service, providing a unit even smaller and more agile than a container.

Back in January Docker, seeing the strategic importance (threat?) of unikernels, acquired Unikernel Systems.  Unikernel Systems, based in Cambridge in the UK, is made up of former developers of the Xen hypervisor project.

At OSCON I caught up with Richard Mortier formally of Unikernel systems and now a Docker employee, to learn about the wild and wacky world of unikernels.

Some of the ground Richard covers

  • What is a unikernel?
  • How is Docker positioning unikernels within its portfolio?
  • Mirage System and unikernel construction
  • How unikernels augment, rather than replace containers

Unikernels: love em? hate em?

Unikernels are not without their vehement detractors.  Roman Shaposhnik, in his post “In defense of unikernels” does a pretty good job of laying out the good and the bad.  Roman’s conclusion:

….unikernels are not a panacea. Nothing is. But they are a very useful building block that doesn’t need any additional FUD. If you really want to fight something that is way overhyped you know where to find linux containers.

Extra-credit reading

  • Introducing Unik: Build and Run Unikernels with Ease – Linux.com
  • Docker bags unikernel gurus – now you can be just like Linus Torvalds – The Register
  • ‘Unikernels will send us back to the DOS era’ – DTrace guru Bryan Cantrill speaks out – The Register
  • Docker kicks off the unikernel revolution – InfoWorld

Pau for now…

 


Learning about Joyent and Triton, the elastic container infrastructure

January 5, 2016

Here’s another interview from KubeCon back in November.  This one’s a twofer.  Joyent’s CEO and CTO, Scott Hammond and Bryan Cantrill respectively, talk about taking their learnings from Solaris zones and applying them to the world of modern apps and containers.

Some of the ground Scott and Bryan cover

  • Joyent, a software company focused on delivering a container native software infrastructure platform
  • They had been doing containers for 6 years and when Docker came along they focused on that
  • How Solaris zones came about, how Joyent picked it up and ran with it, and how it acted as a foundation for today’s containerized world – How they were in the right place at the wrong time
  • Whats in store for Joyent going forward – supporting the movement to modern app dev and the intersection of containers – taking this new tech and productizing and simplifying them to allow enterprises to roll them out

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…

 


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