Jack Wallen kicks the tires on openSUSE Micro, a modern container-specific OS, and shares his thoughts (both good and bad) with you.
openSUSE Micro is a new Linux distribution aimed at hosting containerized workloads with automated management and patching. With this open-source purpose-built operating system, you get an environment specifically designed for workloads that benefit from transactional updates. This rolling release distribution is exactly what your company needs.
openSUSE Micro aims to be predictable, scalable, reliable and flexible. This new way of thinking about containerized deployment uses standard openSUSE RPMs, has no size limit, and is easy and repeatable to roll out, so you don’t have to learn a new packaging format.
I installed openSUSE Micro to see what’s what. My impressions were mixed, which is to be expected given that the platform is fairly new. Let’s dive in.
See: 40+ Open Source and Linux Terms You Should Know (TechRepublic Premium)
One of the first deviations from normal openSUSE is system roles. During installation, you can choose which role the OS will play. However, at first glance, these roles are a bit confusing.
- micro OS: Designed for single-purpose systems and optimized for large-scale deployments. By default it does not provide any services. This will install the OS without a desktop environment.
- MicroOS container host: Optimized for containers and installs Podman. It also installs without a desktop environment, but with everything needed to deploy containers.
- MicroOS Desktop (GNOME): Same as MicroOS Container Host, but only includes desktop environment, automatic updates, and rollbacks. This system role is in beta.
- MicroOS Desktop (KDE): Same as MicroOS Container Host, but only includes desktop environment, automatic updates, and rollbacks. This system role is in alpha.
- MicroOS with remote authentication (agent): Same as MicroOS, but with a remote authentication agent. Remote authentication is how a host authenticates its hardware and software configuration to a remote server. This will install the agent part.
- MicroOS with Remote Verifier: Same as MicroOS, but with remote authentication verification. Remote authentication is how a host authenticates its hardware and software configuration to a remote server. This will install the verifier part.
I decided to install the MicroOS Desktop (GNOME) system role just to see how it worked. The install wasn’t perfect in that I had to keep pressing retry because some packages failed to install on the first try.
I just completed a fully functional installation with the vanilla GNOME desktop environment. Since I installed openSUSE Micro as a VirtualBox VM, I was not able to successfully install the Guest Additions or run the VM with a different graphics controller. So my desktop resolution was pretty small. For this reason, if you’re planning to go virtual root, your best bet is to install without a desktop environment.
Another issue I initially discovered was that the filesystem was mounted as read-only, so there was no option to install software. But the good news is that using the Podman container runtime library works as expected.
Please let me explain. The read-only file system is intentionally done for security purposes. It is important to remember that openSUSE Micro is not intended to be used as a standard operating system, but for similar containerized deployments. So there is no need to mount the file system in read/write mode. In fact, you don’t want the file system mounted in any way other than read-only. So with openSUSE Micro as the platform for your containers, you’ll feel instantly at ease.
But there are pitfalls. I prefer to manage my containers via a GUI, but my go-to manager, Portainer, doesn’t yet support Podman. Also, Cockpit could not be installed because the system boots in read-only mode. There is a way around it.
After starting openSUSE Micro, edit fstab with the following command:
Find the line that ends with .
ro change it to
rwOnce that is done, save the file, reboot your machine and install Cockpit with Podman support using the following command:
sudo zypper install cockpit cockpit-podman
It should have worked. However, similar to what I experienced during the OS installation, the installation of the Cockpit Bridge package failed, but no reason was given. No matter how I tried to install it, it didn’t work.
This is fine because you can interact with Podman from the command line. Besides, I don’t want to install anything extra on a platform intended for scalable container deployment. This should be as minimal as possible. My sole purpose was to see what I could do with openSUSE Micro. So I decided to test a simple deployment instead of relying on the GUI. I’m not going to lie. Podman is not as user friendly as Docker. For example, you can easily deploy a WordPress site using Docker. With Podman, not so much.
Nevertheless, I decided to do a simple NGINX deployment with Podman using the following command.
podman pull docker.io/nginx
podman run -d --name docker-nginx -p 8080:80 docker.io/nginx
The rollout went smoothly, but it’s very basic. To take this one step further, he deployed Joomla with Podman using the following command:
odman pod create --name mypod --publish 8080:80
podman run -dit --pod mypod -e MYSQL_DATABASE=joomla -e MYSQL_USER=joomlauser -e MYSQL_PASSWORD=joomlapassword -e MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=rootpw --name mariadb docker.io/library/mariadb
podman run -dit --pod mypod -e JOOMLA_DB_HOST=127.0.0.1 -e JOOMLA_DB_USER=joomlauser -e JOOMLA_DB_PASSWORD=joomlapassword -e JOOMLA_DB_NAME=joomla --name joomla docker.io/library/joomla
Joomla was GUI install ready and running like a champ. I was pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness of the Joomla deployment. This is a testament to openSUSE Micro’s excellent performance, even with a desktop installed.
My conclusion about openSUSE Micro
openSUSE Micro is a great option for deploying a purpose-built OS for containerized applications. Small, very fast and secure.
Download the openSUSE Micro ISO and give it a try. openSUSE Micro could be your go-to platform for deploying containers.
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