The concept of containerization is not new but has gained much popularity in recent times due to the immense benefits offered by it. Most companies are now focusing on running their applications as containers using commonly used container platforms.
Today, we have got various container technologies like Docker, Kubernetes, and many best practices to implement. These technologies help to containerize different types of applications. Many big companies like Amazon and Google are now focusing on container technology that can be used by other organizations for adopting and using the containers. This technology will help in leveraging the benefits of containers for increasing portability and enhancing efficiency.
After getting into the container technology, the next thing is to choose the container-centric operating system. Currently, we have two leading operating systems as container-based OS- AWS Bottlerocket and Google container-optimized OS. The most frequent question being asked is what is the actual difference between them and where we can use which operating system.
AWS bottle rocket is a Linux-based operating system that is designed majorly for running the containers on various virtual machines or bare-metal hosts.
In the below article, we will highlight the difference between the AWS Bottlerocket and the Google container-optimized OS.
What is AWS Bottlerocket?
AWS bottle rocket was introduced as an open-source, Linux distribution that is much similar to Google’s container-optimized operating system option. It is a single-step update process, helping in reducing the overhead due to the management of containers. Currently, the AWS bottle rocket OS is in its developer preview phase which is ready to be tested as Amazon Machine Image for EC2.
It supports Docker images as well as images that conform to the open container image format, enabling it to run all Linux-based containers. One of the key features of Bottlerocket is that it comes with a package-based update system. The model uses an image-based approach for efficient and faster updates. Bottlerocket is supported for three years by AWS and is primarily designed for AWS. On GitHub, you can find its source code.
What are the benefits of using Bottlerocket?
Below are the main benefits that are offered by the AWS Bottlerocket operating system.
- Bottle Rocket has a lower footprint for the resources as it includes the required components for running the containers. As compared to other available operating systems, Bottlerocket has a security attack surface. Due to reduced storage, compute, and networking resources, it helps in reducing the cost. The container primitives also reduce the overhead associated with management.
- In Bottlerocket, all the updates are done as a single unit which can be easily rolled back whenever required, reducing the risk of botched updates that can leave the system in an unstable state. In the case of other general operating systems, the updates failures are common during updates. But in Bottlerocket, updates will be implemented as soon as they are available and can be rolled back in case of failure.
- As it is available as an open-source, it is available to all customers and users to make design changes to the Bottlerocket.
- You will get extensible support and services like Amazon EC2, Amazon EKS, Amazon ECR, etc.
What are the core components of Bottlerocket?
Below, we have mentioned the primary components of Bottlerocket:
- It has a minimal operating system, including the Linux kernel (5.4), various system softwares, and container runtime.
- It comes with an atomic update mechanism that you can implement and rollback the updates in a single step.
- You can easily integrate it with container orchestrators like Amazon EKS for managing and orchestrating the updates.
- You can even run an admin container that helps in advanced troubleshooting and debugging.
What is Google Container-Optimized OS?
Google container-optimized is an operating system for Google computes engine Virtual Machine that is optimized to run Docker containers. You can run Docker containers on the Google cloud platform securely and quickly with this OS. Google is leading and maintaining this open-source project.
The container-optimized OS helps the developers to speed up the process of running the higher throughput workloads ensuring better security and uptime of the system. By running AWS on Bottlerocket, customers can leverage the benefits of the increased scaling.
What is its features and benefits?
Container-Optimized OS comes with the following mentioned benefits:
- Running containers- with this OS, you will get a pre-installed Docker runtime and cloud-init with the container-optimized OS. using this OS, you will be able to start your Docker container at the time you create the virtual machine. For this, there is no requirement for setting up the host.
- Limited attack surface- this OS comes with a smaller footprint, reducing the chances for potential attacks for your instance.
- It comes with a lockdown firewall along with other security settings to ensure maximum safety for your instance.
- You can configure these OS instances for automatically downloading the weekly updates running in the background. To get the latest updates, you need to reboot the system.
Limitations of Google container-optimized OS
These Google-container-optimized operating systems come with the limitations listed below.
- This containerized operating system might not have support for some of the features that are mostly supported by other operating systems.
- This operating system does not come with the package manager, making it difficult for installing software packages directly on your instance. But, you can use the CoreOS toolbox for installing and running admin tools within an isolated container.
- It will not support the deployment of non-containerized applications.
- It does not let you install third-party kernel modules or drivers.
- You cannot use this operating system outside the Google Cloud platform environment.
Use cases for Container-Optimized OS
You can use the containerized OS for running the Docker containers. It can also be used for compute engine instances if you meet the following requirements-
- You will require the minimum need for the setup of Docker containers and Kubernetes.
- It should have a small footprint for resources making it secured for containers.
- It should be tested and verified to run the Kubernetes on your computer engine instances.
But, Google container-optimized OS does not work all the time and is not suitable in the following cases-
- If your application is non-containerized, you may be able to run it on this OS.
- For proper handling, you will require a skilled IT team having strong Linux knowledge.
Challenges with a host OS
Running a container will definitely require an operating system. Some of the containers can be run on the general OS, as container-based host environments support running thousands of containers, making it easy to scale. Such scalability may cause various problems like overhead, updates failure, and security attacks, etc. and as a solution, Bottlerocket and Google container-optimized OS comes into the picture.
This OS helps in enhancing the speed and efficiency for running the workloads ensuring better uptime and security. Using Google’s computer engine, you can deploy containers on Google cloud. Additionally, you can run the containers in a familiar virtual machine environment.
Using the GCE VM, you will be able to specify the image you want to use from the container section. In the boot section of the Docker container, you can select an OS optimized for running containers. While with the Bottlerocket, you can host your containers in Amazon infrastructure.
AWS Bottlerocket vs Google Container-Optimized OS
Bottlerocket helps in reducing the chances of the surface attack, protecting against the outside attacks. It helps in reducing the vulnerability impact from the system and ensures inter-container isolation. The isolation can be done with the help of kernel namespace and container control groups.
On the other hand, Google container-optimized OS achieves this by moving all the required services and applications out of the OS system/userspace within a container. Apart from this, you can enable its auto-upgrading feature by default. It will keep the nodes updated in the cluster as per the cluster master version. In this way, both OS will help in improving the security and reducing the overhead due to maintenance.
AWS Bottlerocket simplifies the development process for developers and makes them more involved by using GitHub as their platform of choice. This enables the end-users to create operating systems with their own features.
On the other hand, Google container-optimized OS does not require you to create and deploy customized images on a cluster. If you want to create a container-optimized OS, you will need Chromium scripts and a toolchain. It provides development images that help the engineers for creating, debugging, and testing the system.
Both operating systems are useful but in some different aspects. These operating systems are helpful for running containers on various platforms. You can choose any of the above-mentioned operating systems based on your project or business requirement. We have mentioned some of their features, benefits, and use cases that can help you in deciding on the right operating system for you.