The Atomic Future is here!

Oakland Tribune, 1946, Cover
Atomic Future, 1946

The atomic future in the 1940-50s was all about flying cars, farming deserts, super trains, and a better way of life through atomic power.  Right now, the atomic future is Project Atomic!

I first ran into Project Atomic at Red Hat Summit this year, and while it sounded nifty it didn’t make a huge impact on me.  Until I started down the Docker path with everyone else (read at OSCON ’14).  Then I realized the Project Atomic folks were miles ahead of all of us, looking at real world impacts of Docker on computing.

First off, what is Project Atomic?

Project Atomic isn’t a single set of code you can grab and run to start managing Docker based environments.  The design is more like OpenStack: it’s an umbrella for several different projects being pulled together to solve for a particular problem of operationalizing Docker.

The “atomic” part of Atomic is the Docker container enabled OS itself.  This isn’t your typical OS either, this layer is based on OSTree and rpm-tree to provide something in between a packaging system and a disk image for the OS bits.  This changes the way you do OS updates to look something along the lines of Docker (at least, as far I see it).  Colin Walter‘s been seen to call the approach “git for operating system binaries”.

GearD gets pulled in from OpenShift Origin to manage the runtime aspects of Docker containers.  This hits the highlights of a lot of the online musing: how do we start and stop apps within Docker, how do we pull logs out, how do we connect exposed ports easily, etc.  These are all things that at higher levels of orchestration (and that’s a point of Docker, neh?) need to be easily automat-able.

Cockpit looks pretty slick, offering up a GUI to manage services and atomic hosts.  According to the project, they’re still in rapid development and not ready for prime time, but it’s looking like it’s moving in a good direction.  Good look at the containers and the host system process.

Project Atomic is still fairly new, but there’s pre-built VMs you can download and kick the tires.  And as open source, patches always welcome!  Take a look at Project Atomic and tell me what you think.

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