Google has adopted for use in its cloud a streamlined version of the Canonical Ubuntu Linux distribution tweaked to run Docker and other containers. Ubuntu Core was designed to provide only the essential components for running Linux workloads in the cloud. An early preview edition of it, which Canonical calls “Snappy,” was released last week. The new edition jettisoned many of the libraries and programs usually found in general use Linux distributions that were unnecessary for cloud use.
Canonical’s “snappy” new formulation of Ubuntu has gained the support of another major public cloud vendor, with Google making the lightweight Linux available for customers of its Compute Engine IaaS offering. Announced earlier this month, Ubuntu Core is a stripped-down version of the OS designed specifically for large-scale cloud deployments running applications in Docker containers. Developed based on lessons learned from Canonical’s efforts to get Ubuntu running on phones, its compressed boot image clocks in at around 100MB. Unusually, Microsoft was the first cloud vendor to get on board with the new effort, offering support for launching Ubuntu Core instances via its Azure command-line tools. With Tuesday’s announcement, Google, too, joins the party. The idea of offering a no-frills Linux variant for Docker deployments isn’t unique to Ubuntu. It arguably originated with CoreOS, and even Red Hat has since come up with a bare-bones version of its Enterprise Linux.