CoreOS review: Linux for containers and Kubernetes

CoreOS Container Linux provides a safe, consistent, and reliable foundation for container clusters—but it’s not easy

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At a Glance

CoreOS Container Linux is an open-source container operating system designed to support Kubernetes. The CoreOS flavor of container infrastructure management uses the Rocket or Docker container engine, Etcd for service discovery and configuration, Flannel for networking, and Kubernetes for container management. Unique among container operating systems, CoreOS offers a continuous stream of automated updates that, in theory, do not affect running applications. That’s because they run in containers.

Container Linux is all-in on containers and large-scale orchestration. You won’t find a package manager or traditional Linux administration tools. As a result, Container Linux is not as easy to get started with as some of the other container-oriented Linuxes, or as easy to play around and experiment with. It is a decidedly production-oriented system, focused on providing a stable foundation for clusters of container hosts.

For companies just beginning their container journey, a survey of some other container operating systems might be in order. In particular, I found VMware Photon OS and RancherOS much easier to use.

CoreOS Container Linux installation and configuration

Installation of CoreOS Container Linux is not straightforward. CoreOS has created a custom provisioning engine called Ignition that handles disk setup and drives the various units of the Systemd initialization system. It does this via a JSON configuration.

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