[Chicago-talk] Alpine Linux distribution

Joel Berger joel.a.berger at gmail.com
Mon Sep 26 07:37:53 PDT 2022

In a container you basically bundle up each "layer" of your OS and
application together and ship it off to downstreams to run. The base layers
are shared between projects that use that same base, usually from an OS or
language or even library that provides that base (and those of the latter
still use those of the former too). Containers only need as much of the OS
as is required to run, unlike a true OS of a bare metal box. Therefore to
reduce storage and shipping size of the final images, saving space on base
and intermediate layers can be crucial. After all you usually cannot reduce
the size of your application very much, but if you can whittle out parts of
the OS that aren't necessary then that is data that doesn't need to be
stored by container registries or downloaded by end users.

Major OSes have several versions of their official container image
depending on what they are intended to do. Ubuntu and Debian have images
that are essentially full OSes for if you're using the image more as a VM
than a base, say for testing. However they have others that are stripped
down, meaning almost anything you need you need to apt-get install first.
Alpine and some other similar OSes make various choices to further reduce
the size. This means cutting space in areas that might even seem necessary.
One such choice is Alpine's use of musl libc (https://musl.libc.org/) vs
gnu's and while in theory (
https://wiki.alpinelinux.org/wiki/Running_glibc_programs) this is fine, in
practice it results in many of the problems you see in the p5p list. That
lack of C compatibility, especially for a project like Perl (with its noted
"lexer and parser and smoke and mirrors") and it strick C89 compatibility
target make it ripe for conflicts, even, or perhaps especially unusual ones.

I don't know if this helps at all, but perhaps it just shines a bit more
light on it.


On Mon, Sep 26, 2022 at 6:50 AM James E Keenan <jkeenan at pobox.com> wrote:

> On 9/25/22 21:10, Steven Lembark wrote:
> >
> > https://alpinelinux.org/about/
> >
> > Alpine Linux is an independent, non-commercial, general purpose Linux
> distribution designed for power users who appreciate security, simplicity
> and resource efficiency.
> >
> >
> > The catch is that "power users" means it's not intended for
> > anyone doing anything usual; it's intended for people who
> > have a specific need and know how to work around any issues
> > that arise.
> >
> > This makes it un-suitable for general testing.
> >
> Unfortunately, that doesn't stop people from sending failure reports to
> CPANtesters or to Perl 5 Porters. :-(
> jimk
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