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Is this indeed the light-house top I see? Microsoft updates its container Linux, CBL-Mariner

Stripped-down OS prepares to unroll the birthday bunting

Microsoft has updated its internal-use (and now public) container Linux, CBL-Mariner.

The update brings the kernel version to and enables /dev/mcelog. As well as a raft of security fixes, cronie and logrotate have been added to the images as has a Microsoft repo. Moby-containerd has been updated to version 1.4.4 and swig to 4.0.2.

Microsoft's CBL-Mariner Linux is nearing the first anniversary of its stable release on GitHub and its developers have been toiling away ever since, emitting a release on a more or less monthly cadence (there was a May Update 2 in July to deal with a kernel boot issue on physical machines.)

CBL (Common Base Linux) Mariner is not aimed at desktops. Rather, it is targeted as server applications and intended for Microsoft's cloud infrastructure and edge products. It will, according to the Windows giant, "aenhance Microsoft's ability to stay current on Linux updates."

The regular updates are testament to the team's determination to keep things close to the cutting edge and CBL-Mariner, for those willing to build it, makes a decent fist of being a container or container host.

Microsoft also reckons the stripped-back nature of the OS makes for better security: "By focusing the features in the core image to just what is needed for our internal cloud customers there are fewer services to load, and fewer attack vectors."

In honour of the impending anniversary of the platform's initial release on GitHub, we took it for a spin to see how things have improved over the months.

While an ISO image is not provided, building one from pre-compiled RPM packages is trivial and installation (to a VM in our case) was a breeze. Both the Photon OS Project and Fedora get a nod in the acknowledgements, and with good reason.

The result was a solid OS with some intriguing possibilities for customisation - certainly an alternative to something like CoreOS.

While the Windows Subsystem for Linux may grab the glory on the desktop, CBL Mariner remains worthy of consideration for behind-the-scenes container work. ®

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