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Open source software vendor Red Hat has launched a purpose-built application container host based on its enterprise-grade Linux distribution.

The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Atomic Host is a lightweight OS that provides all of the components necessary to easily package and run apps in the Docker format.

Unlike the ‘vanilla’ Docker version, Atomic Host offers advanced security features, automatic updates and support for ‘super-privileged’ containers which can be used to install third-party software.

Liniux container

Pack it in

Linux-based application containers wrap apps and their binaries into individual virtual environments that require a lot less overhead than virtual machines. This approach promises faster deployment and simplified maintenance, without sacrificing performance or security.

A popular example of container-based architecture is Docker – an open source project managed by the eponymous Docker, Inc.

Atomic Host includes all the tools necessary to build and run container images in Docker format, while removing all non-essential RHEL components. Lars Herrmann, senior director of product strategy at Red Hat, was quick to point out to DatacenterDynamics that his company has no intention of competing with Docker.

“Docker is several things - a format for Linux containers, which we fully support and help drive as an industry standard; a runtime tool (the Docker engine) which we ship with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 and with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Atomic Host; lastly, Docker is a company with whom we collaborate and an upstream project where Red Hat is the second leading code contributor behind Docker [the company],” he explained.

Atomic Host is a part of the Red Hat ecosystem, something that ensures containers will remain easily portable between bare metal servers, virtualized environments and private and public clouds built with RHEL.

“Ultimately, security and certification are where Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Atomic Host stands out, from enhanced security out-of-the-box with SELinux to support for super-privileged containers - we know that the basic needs of application security and provenance will not change for the enterprise, no matter the level of innovation, and we’ve built Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Atomic Host with those requirements in mind,” said Herrmann.

Atomic Host is available for download immediately on the Red Hat website.

In December 2014, Red Hat’s competitor Canonical made a similar move, launching a ‘snappy’ version of its Ubuntu Core OS designed for containerized application deployment in the cloud.