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Presentation: LinuxKit

Track: Modern Operating Systems

Location: Westminster, 4th flr.

Duration: 10:35am - 11:25am

Day of week: Monday

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What You’ll Learn

  1. Learn about LinuxKit, what it is and what it is helpful for.

  2. Hear about running systems with the simplicity of containers and the isolation provided by VMs


Why aren't operating systems more like applications?
We live in an era of application microservices, even nanoservices. Each application serves precisely its purpose, living for exactly how long it needs. When we need it to do something else, we either create a distinct service, or rebuild and replace the existing one. Applications last seconds to minutes, at best hours.

What's good for the application goose, is great for the operating system gander.

Welcome to LinuxKit, a modern operating system composer. You compose precisely the components you need into a super-lightweight distribution, deploy it, and then throw it away when no longer needed.

In this talk, we will:

  1. Introduce LinuxKit, its history and purpose, and how it differs radically from the operating system distributions with which you likely are familiar.
  2. Delve into LinuxKit's design and architecture.
  3. Explore how LinuxKit offers new ways of operating, plugging operating systems as first-class citizens directly into our deployment pipelines.

And, of course, we will build and deploy immutable, bootable, purpose-built images in minutes live on-stage.


What's the focus of your work today?


I'm playing in a few different areas all related around technology and operations. My focus tends to be where do changes in technology or engineering lead to fundamental changes in how individuals and companies operate. Sometimes it's a little bit more about the tech, sometimes it's a little more about operations and organization, but always somewhere at the nexus of those: operations, finance, technology. f I look at my last year, I've got everything from: LinuxKit, which for the most part is voluntary, where I'm writing stuff; a client company where we officially deployed once per month, practically  once every quarter, when I started working with them, and now are cloud-native deploying multiple times per day... and that's on a slow day. Some of the work I've done is cloud-native for ARM. At the same time I'm doing some product strategy work for a startup that is selling into that space. I love interesting tech that changes how we operate, that has a practical impact.


What’s the focus of the talk, an introduction to LinuxKit or use cases of applying it in production?


It's more of the former, which is an introduction to LinuxKit, how to use it and perhaps more importantly how you could actually fit it in your supply chain. I will, to some degree, delve into what it is technically and how it's built, but probably I won't get too far into that part because I think it leaves fewer practical lessons for people.


What is a use case that LinuxKit excels in?


Supply chains. Knowing that your distribution is actually what you needed to be. The practical example of that might be a secure environment, which, frankly, I think everything out there should be treated as a secure environment. As part of your supply chain, you want it to be immutable so that you could reproduce it reliably at every stage. You mentioned the financials where they really care exactly what's running, down to highly more secure environments, through to edge and IoT. Additionally, there are optimized environments where I already run 20 VMs on the server. How I get to 200 or 2,000 of them running without interference becomes a real financial question. The sheer size of what you’re running, then, has a very practical impact on how much density you can squeeze out of each server. Overall, I think LinuxKit has a pretty broad use. I have seen it used for CI/CD, Kubernetes,, companies running their SaaS on top of it, to building stuff that runs on tiny edge machines.


Who's the focus of the talk?


Definitely architect, systems engineer, anyone with an interest in reliability, performance, reproducibility and security. I think a kernel developer might find it interesting but I'm not trying to target that group, though, of course, they’re more than welcome. We're not getting into how the kernel is built, what patches has the team done on it. That in itself could be its own talk but the reality is that I will be lost in the face of the crowd that will be well above my head.


In a world of containers do we need LinuxKit?


Definitively, without question, for several reasons. First of all, containers have to run on something. And that's is true especially now when they have become larger and larger even for non-hyperscale companies, i.e. other than AWS, Azure, or Google. Moderately sized companies are dealing with densities that are pretty decent scale. So what you do then? The second piece, and this is really interesting. I think we can thank AWS to some degree for this. There is a growth of interest in 'Here are things that I want to run like their containers but I want the isolation of VMs', and I mentioned VMs because of the whole stir they created with the release of Firecracker. And once you decide to run on VMs, the question is how small can I get that VM to run something with the container experience but with VM isolation?


What do you want people to leave your talk with?


That there are chunks of how they operate, that they've assumed as mutable and could not be improved, yet it was just the way it's been for a long time. They can build on an improvement to take advantage of it.

Speaker: Avi Deitcher

Managing Consultant @Atomic Inc.

Avi Deitcher has been an engineer and businessman for over 20 years, designing and implementing technology, strategy and operations. He loves technology, but most importantly he loves what it enables us to do as individuals and businesses. He uses his time helping clients implement technology solutions that fundamentally change how they operate, and invests time in building and contributing to open-source that has the potential to affect how enterprises operate.

"Tech is cool; useful tech that matters is much cooler." 

Find Avi Deitcher at


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