[Chicago-talk] Alpine Linux distribution

Sean Blanton sean at blanton.com
Mon Sep 26 09:47:51 PDT 2022

Thanks! That's very informative! I will echo that keeping container sizes
small and cleaning up old, cached versions of containers and images is one
of the maintenance items you have to deal with when doing container
development. It's easier than ordering new hardware, though!


Sean Blanton
sean at blanton.com

On Mon, Sep 26, 2022 at 9:37 AM Joel Berger <joel.a.berger at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.
> Joel
> 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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