Parsing Technology: Software Collections and Containers

Software Collections logo Even working at Red Hat, it can be very challenging to keep up on all the latest technologies that permeate through our upstream projects and downstream products. No sooner than you can get your head wrapped around the notion of virtual datacenters vs. cloud computing, now all of a sudden you have to learn about containers. And don’t even get me started on tools like Atomic App and Nulecule.

One of the things that’s always bothered me a little bit about containers is that, on the surface, they seem to overlap a lot with the functionality of other technologies. When I hear someone talking about containerizing something like Fedora or openSUSE, it’s pretty easy to think of containers as just fancy portable virtual machines—even though there is not a speck of hypervisor technology anywhere inside of container architecture. But from an initiate’s point of view, it is easy to see how the overlapping functionalities can blur the perception between containers and virtual machines.

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A Containers-Eye View of LinuxCon EU

Atomic Logo I recently attended LinuxCon Europe 2015 from 5-7 October, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. I came with high expectations and goals and I am pleased to be able to say they were met.

The conference was combined with two other conferences (CloudOpen and Embedded Linux Conference Europe) and I expected it to be a painful to navigate a huge venue, where I wouldn’t be able to find anyone. Instead, at about 1500-2000 people, the combined conference was very addressable, allowed for easy crossing of tracks, and presented a fantastic "hallway track." The organizers, sponsors, and venue did a fantastic job.

Rather than recap every talk I attended, I’ll talk about the event from the perspective of a software engineer working with container-related technologies. In my $dayjob I focus on Project Atomic, a collection of container-related technologies that make containers easier to implement and deploy. While the project focuses on Docker containers and tends to use the Kubernetes orchestrator, Atomic is really container-technology agnostic.

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Don’t Skeumorph your Containers, Use Microservices Instead

The genesis of this article was a financial industry luncheon in New York City a couple of years back at which I was invited to speak. The topic was this new "containers" thing: what it was, where it was going, and how it could best be used. Of particular interest was how containers related to virtual machines (VMs).

At this point, it’s worth remembering the context in which server virtualization and its VMs became such a popular technology, fundamentally changing how many datacenters were operated and spawning a mini-industry of complementary vendors and products. Although initially introduced as primarily a tool for developers, virtualization rapidly became instead a way to carve out multiple virtual servers from a single physical server. This server consolidation was initially driven by cost-cutting, a popular pasttime after the dot-com bubble popped.

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Foreman and Katello at FOSDEM and Config Management Camp

The Satellite team spent the first parts of February meeting and working with users of their upstream projects Foreman and Katello.

We started the week in Brussels at FOSDEM. As a first time attendee, I was impressed with how many passionate open source developers were at this conference. Danial Lobato (@eLobatoss) gave talks on how developers could contribute to Foreman, and then showed how to use Katello and Foreman together to manage and deploy Docker containers. Petr Chalupa (@pitr_ch) discussed improvements in concurrent-ruby based on his work in Foreman.

The real action was in the central hall. The team commandeered some booth space and spent two days meeting with users. They answered questions, showed future features, and helped to debug issues in running systems. The team topped off the two days with a community dinner at Drug Opera in the lower town. The community discussed things ranging from UI improvements to strategies to tie pony tails with only one hand.

The team then moved on to Ghent, to attend Config Management Camp. This is a two-day conference that brings users and developers of configuration management tools from around the world. Foreman was the third most requested room, and it was busy the whole weekend. Ohad Levy (@ohadlevy) organized two great days of talks in the Foreman room. After two days, we were glad to be heading home, but energized by such a strong community.

Foreman: Join the Foreman community on the project website, the mailing lists foreman-users and foreman-dev, or on IRC at #theForeman or #theForeman-dev.

Katello: Learn more about Katello at the project website or the mailing lists and IRC channels for Foreman.

Red Hatter Talk Videos from LCA 2015

Linux Conference Australia ( is the Southern Hemisphere’s premier open source conference. For one week a year, open source professionals and enthusiasts gather Down Under at this well-respected technical conference to talk about everything from low-level kernel specifics to high-level project governance principles. Here are 14 talks given by Red Hatters at this year’s LCA:

Cloud and Containers

  • Cloud Herding: Delivering Services Across Multiple Environments – by John Mark Walker

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How to Run a FOSDEM Devroom

FOSDEM is one of the world’s biggest gatherings of free and open source developers, and it takes a lot of work to put the entire thing together. Almost magically, the event is staffed and managed by volunteers and put on free of cost to the attendees. If you were one of the thousands of folks attending FOSDEM this past weekend in Brussels, you might have found yourself sitting in a devroom thinking, "Hey, I’d like to put one of these together next year!" If so, read on.

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Find Us at FOSDEM

At the end of the month, more than 5,000 people from around the world will gather in Brussels for FOSDEM 2015 ( January 31 and February 1). The event is free and registration is not required, so if you’re in the area (or can get there), FOSDEM is a great way to expand your international network and your skillset.

The schedule is now online, but check back before the event to confirm that talks and speakers haven’t been shifted around at the last minute. Here is a sample of sessions you can attend to learn more about our projects:

These are only a few of the many great sessions at FOSDEM 2015. Check out the event website to see what else is going on and who will be there at:

CentOS Dojo Brussels

The CentOS Dojo Brussels will be held January 30th, the day before FOSDEM kicks off. The dojo will have a sys admin and a cloud track, with the following sessions:

  • CentOS Install Methods Review
  • Guide to Software Collections
  • Pulp Project, HowTo Manage RPM Repositories
  • Tuning the Xen Hypervisor for Optimal Performance
  • Optimising Xen Deployments for Storage Performance
  • OpenStack Quickstart with RDO on CentOS
  • Ceph Introduction and Use Cases
  • GlusterFS Quickstart Tutorial

Seating is limited, so register online before it fills up.

If you can’t make it to Brussels, maybe we’ll see you at another upcoming event. Keep an eye on our event calendar for updates on where we’ll be next.

Fedora 21 Makes Headlines

Fedora 21 officially rolled out Tuesday December 9th and made a lot of headlines. Congratulations to the Fedora community on an exciting new release that’s getting rave reviews. Word on the street is Fedora 21 was well worth the wait.

To download Fedora 21 and see the official documentation, visit

Here are a few of the articles that explain what you can expect with the latest (greatest) Fedora release:

And on YouTube:

Have you kicked the tires on Fedora 21 yet? Let us know what you think.

Fedora 21: Fedora Goes Atomic

This week, Fedora 21 (a.k.a., the release that must not be named) hit FTPs mirrors everywhere, with a feature list led by a new organizational structure for the distribution. Fedora is now organized into three separate flavors: Workstation, Server, and Cloud.

Fedora’s Cloud flavor is further divided into a "traditional" base image for deploying the distribution on your cloud of choice, and an Atomic Host image into which Fedora’s team of cloud wranglers has herded a whole series of futuristic operating system technologies.

Applications: Fedora Atomic is built to host applications in docker containers, which provide a simple-to-use means of getting at all the workload-hosting goodness that’s built into Linux, but that tends to require some assembly.

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Open World Forum 2014 Report

Ah, Paris. While seemingly the rest of the tech world was in the City of Lights for the OpenStack Summit, a smaller and more intimate event took place the week prior: Open World Forum.

The Forum is a two-day event in the heart of Paris dedicated to exploring all things open. And I do mean all: open software, open hardware, open data… the concept of open writ large and on display in a cozy little venue near the Arc de Triomphe.

Small, intimate, cozy… you may be sensing a theme here. But the smaller size of Open World Forum actually works in the event’s favor. This was a chance for students, developers, and business people to come together and share what they know. There wasn’t a lot of overt excitement (these are the French after all, and they tend to be cool), but there was a sense of earnestness in the air in the sessions and hallways of this venue.

My own discussion on containers and virtualization was in much the same vein. The audience for the presentation was attentive and full of questions, and this, for me, was one of the best interactive discussions I have had to date.

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