Canonical pushes LXD, its new mysterious drug for Linux containers

We take the hype out of Ubuntu maker's non-hypervisor hypervisor

Analysis Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, says it's working on a new "virtualization experience" based on container technologies – but just how it will operate remains something of a mystery.

Canonical founder and erstwhile space tourist Mark Shuttleworth announced the new effort, dubbed LXD and pronounced "lex-dee," during a keynote speech at the OpenStack Expo in Paris on Tuesday.

"Take all the speed and efficiency of docker, and turn it into a full virtualisation experience," Canonical beams on the LXD homepage. "That's the goal of Canonical's new initiative to create the next big hypervisor around Linux container technologies."

With LXD, the company says, admins will be able to spin up new machine instances in "under a second" and launch hundreds of them on a single server, all with airtight security. The LXD software itself will provide a RESTful API for managing these container images with easy-to-use command line tools, either locally via a Unix socket or over the internet.

Sprinkle liberally with magic dust

It starts to get a little murky from there, though. Canonical is calling this new tool a "hypervisor," yet elsewhere on the same page it says it "isn't a hypervisor." It also claims that LXD will offer "complete operating system functionality within containers, not just single processes" – but that sounds a lot like virtualization, which would seem to negate some of the benefits of containers.

"Not at all," Canonical's Dustin Kirkland told El Reg via email, adding that LXD is both a culmination of Canonical's work implementing OpenStack clouds for enterprise customers and a response to demand from customers who aren't satisfied with current virtualization solutions.

"Other customers want the experience of a full Ubuntu operating system, within a container environment," Kirkland said. "And that's where LXD fits. We're shooting for the 'virtualized' experience, but within a container."

Canonical says this will only work for Linux instances running on Linux. You can't run Windows in a container on Linux, for example. But the company claims you will be able to run multiple instances of Debian, Red Hat, Ubuntu, or any other Linux distro on a host that's running a different variant – even though LXD, it says, is not strictly virtualization.

"All of this work is aimed at giving you the full experience of virtual machines, the full security of a hypervisor, but much, much faster," the LXD homepage explains. "Without all that virtualization overhead, you get the full underlying performance of your host environment."

Other stories you might like

  • FTC urged to protect data privacy of women visiting abortion clinics
    As Supreme Court set to overturn Roe v Wade, safeguards on location info now more vital than ever

    Democrat senators have urged America's Federal Trade Commission to do something to protect the privacy of women after it emerged details of visits to abortion clinics were being sold by data brokers.

    Women's healthcare is an especially thorny issue right now after the Supreme Court voted in a leaked draft majority opinion to overturn Roe v Wade, a landmark ruling that declared women's rights to have an abortion are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution.

    If the nation's top judges indeed vote to strike down that 1973 decision, individual states, at least, can set their own laws governing women's reproductive rights. Thirteen states already have so-called "trigger laws" in place prohibiting abortions – mostly with exceptions in certain conditions, such as if the pregnancy or childbirth endangers the mother's life – that will go into effect if Roe v Wade is torn up. People living in those states would, in theory, have to travel to another state where abortion is legal to carry out the procedure lawfully, although laws are also planned to ban that.

    Continue reading
  • Zuckerberg sued for alleged role in Cambridge Analytica data-slurp scandal
    I can prove CEO was 'personally involved in Facebook’s failure to protect privacy', DC AG insists

    Cambridge Analytica is back to haunt Mark Zuckerberg: Washington DC's Attorney General filed a lawsuit today directly accusing the Meta CEO of personal involvement in the abuses that led to the data-slurping scandal. 

    DC AG Karl Racine filed [PDF] the civil suit on Monday morning, saying his office's investigations found ample evidence Zuck could be held responsible for that 2018 cluster-fsck. For those who've put it out of mind, UK-based Cambridge Analytica harvested tens of millions of people's info via a third-party Facebook app, revealing a – at best – somewhat slipshod handling of netizens' privacy by the US tech giant.

    That year, Racine sued Facebook, claiming the social network was well aware of the analytics firm's antics yet failed to do anything meaningful until the data harvesting was covered by mainstream media. Facebook repeatedly stymied document production attempts, Racine claimed, and the paperwork it eventually handed over painted a trail he said led directly to Zuck. 

    Continue reading
  • Florida's content-moderation law kept on ice, likely unconstitutional, court says
    So cool you're into free speech because that includes taking down misinformation

    While the US Supreme Court considers an emergency petition to reinstate a preliminary injunction against Texas' social media law HB 20, the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday partially upheld a similar injunction against Florida's social media law, SB 7072.

    Both Florida and Texas last year passed laws that impose content moderation restrictions, editorial disclosure obligations, and user-data access requirements on large online social networks. The Republican governors of both states justified the laws by claiming that social media sites have been trying to censor conservative voices, an allegation that has not been supported by evidence.

    Multiple studies addressing this issue say right-wing folk aren't being censored. They have found that social media sites try to take down or block misinformation, which researchers say is more common from right-leaning sources.

    Continue reading
  • US-APAC trade deal leaves out Taiwan, military defense not ruled out
    All fun and games until the chip factories are in the crosshairs

    US President Joe Biden has heralded an Indo-Pacific trade deal signed by several nations that do not include Taiwan. At the same time, Biden warned China that America would help defend Taiwan from attack; it is home to a critical slice of the global chip industry, after all. 

    The agreement, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), is still in its infancy, with today's announcement enabling the United States and the other 12 participating countries to begin negotiating "rules of the road that ensure [US businesses] can compete in the Indo-Pacific," the White House said. 

    Along with America, other IPEF signatories are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Combined, the White House said, the 13 countries participating in the IPEF make up 40 percent of the global economy. 

    Continue reading
  • 381,000-plus Kubernetes API servers 'exposed to internet'
    Firewall isn't a made-up word from the Hackers movie, people

    A large number of servers running the Kubernetes API have been left exposed to the internet, which is not great: they're potentially vulnerable to abuse.

    Nonprofit security organization The Shadowserver Foundation recently scanned 454,729 systems hosting the popular open-source platform for managing and orchestrating containers, finding that more than 381,645 – or about 84 percent – are accessible via the internet to varying degrees thus providing a cracked door into a corporate network.

    "While this does not mean that these instances are fully open or vulnerable to an attack, it is likely that this level of access was not intended and these instances are an unnecessarily exposed attack surface," Shadowserver's team stressed in a write-up. "They also allow for information leakage on version and build."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022