5 Kubernetes distributions with something extra

There is more than one way to do Kubernetes. These five distros take unique approaches to solving specific problems

5 Kubernetes distributions with something extra
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The Kubernetes container management system has been described as “the new Linux” because of how it transforms the way software is deployed. But there is another way Kubernetes is akin to Linux: the sheer number and variety of distributions, incarnations, and re-packagings of Kubernetes out there.

Many of the most well-known Kubernetes distributions come from companies—such as Canonical, Red Hat, and Suse—that also provide Linux distributions. But these aren’t the only game in town. A number of other Kubernetes-powered products offer useful ways to do container management in specific scenarios. Here are five significant products that offer Kubernetes with a twist.


Containership is a Kubernetes distribution designed for multi-cloud use. Multiple Kubernetes clusters can be provisioned and managed on multiple cloud environments using a single toolset. Containership taps Kubernetes’ native monitoring and reporting technology to return details about resource usage across each cloud, as a way to determine which applications will run best, or cheapest, on which cloud.

Containership’s open source community edition is available for free. The business edition ($500 per month) adds enhanced audit logging and platform support, and the enterprise edition ($2500 per month) adds on-premises operations, enterprise authentication, and a platform SLA guarantee.

Mesosphere DC/OS

Mesosphere DC/OS uses Apache Mesos to turn a cluster of machines into a pooled resource that can be dynamically partitioned for multiple applications. Kubernetes is supported as one of many application packages on DC/OS, allowing you to install, run, and update Kubernetes across a DC/OS cluster.

Mesosphere Kubernetes Engine (MKE) allows a DC/OS administrator to manage multiple Kubernetes clusters in different locations and on different providers, side by side with other DC/OS-managed resources. It even supports hosting multiple Kubernetes nodes on the same bare metal servers, virtual machines, or cloud instances. And Mesosphere uses the mainline community distribution of Kubernetes to ensure a high degree of compatibility with native and third-party tools.

Mirantis Cloud Platform

Mirantis Cloud Platform incorporates OpenStack, Kubernetes, or a combination of the two as the substrate for an “agile infrastructure platform,” as Mirantis puts it. In a nutshell, Mirantis Cloud Platform is a single, integrated solution for orchestrating virtual machines, containers, and bare-metal servers. Apps deployed on the platform are managed across the lifecycle in “devops style,” using Salt as the configuration management tool, with integrated CI/CD support to ensure apps deploy correctly.

Mirantis Cloud Platform can run Kubernetes directly on bare metal, in OpenStack clusters, or on public clouds. Mirantis claims that Mirantis Cloud Platform makes it easier to work with Kubernetes because the work of provisioning the infrastructure underneath Kubernetes doesn’t fall to the end user.

Platform9 Managed Kubernetes

Most Kubernetes distributions focus on making Kubernetes manageable from the inside out and the top down. Platform9 Managed Kubernetes runs in any environment you choose for deployment—local bare metal, remote public cloud—but is remotely managed as a service by Platform9 engineers.

Platform9 rolls out updates to Managed Kubernetes approximately every six weeks under customer supervision. Functions that would normally have to be added to you Kubernetes cluster by hand, like user quotas for multi-tenancy scenarios, are provided by Platform9. Also included is integration with Platform9’s Fission project, a serverless compute aka function-as-a-service system that works with most any programming language with a containerized runtime.

For those who roll their own Kubernetes, Platform9 offers Klusterkit, three open-source tools for simplifying the setup process.


HyperHQ, providers of the Hyper.sh cloud service for running containers, have developed Stackube, a “Kubernetes-centric OpenStack distro.” Normally, OpenStack uses a component called Nova to provision and manage compute nodes; Stackube uses Kubernetes instead. Other than that, Stackube pairs “vanilla” OpenStack and Kubernetes, with all of the additional details handled by OpenStack plug-ins.

The big advantage HyperHQ claims for Stackube is that it can support varying degrees of multi-tenancy, depending on which container runtime is used. For “soft” multi-tenancy, there’s Docker. For more industrial-strength separation of resources, there’s HyperContainer, which uses hypervisor-level isolation.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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