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What are Linux Containers?

You might have heard of Linux containers if you're closely related to the Linux operating system.

This guide will answer everything related to Linux containers, their advantages, and their benefits.

According to Wikipedia, Linux Containers is an operating-system-level virtualization method for running multiple isolated Linux systems on a control host using a single Linux kernel.

In other words, Linux containers consist of applications that isolate them from the system they are already hosted on. Using Linux containers, users can create a separation layer between the operating system and kernel application layer.

Linux containers

Linux containers act much like virtual machines. While the outside of the machine looks exactly like a complete system, the inside of the container does not need to replicate the entire operating system.

Brief History of Linux Containers

Linux or system containers first came into practice in 1999 as the BSD. BSD technology system allows the partition of a Free BSD system into jails or multiple subsystems.

A system admin can use jails to easily share files inside or outside of the organization with ease.

Linux container's foundation was laid down by Jacques Gélinas’ VServer project when he set multiple controlled userspace.

Why should you use Linux Containers?

Linux containers facilitate an isolated environment for developing and creating application containers and systems.

Here are the major benefits of these containers:

  • They work perfectly in the cloud environment.
  • Applications created in containers are scalable.
  • It can also be used as a deployment unit for microservices.

Here's an example; Let's say you are developing a Linux application. Your system has a different configuration. The development of the application requires a different environment configuration that is suitable for other developers working in your team.

Also, your business has specific configurations and supporting files that are accustomed to some development and production environment. To succeed, you need to replicate the environment without bearing the charges and loads of the server environment.

That's where Containers come in.

These containers have all the necessary libraries, dependencies, and files to move them through production.

What is the difference between Application & System Containers?

Application containers (such as Docker) are containers running a single process per container. These types of containers are not available for a long period of time.

They are short-lived.

What is a docker

Users here create stateless workloads where they can modify or delete them anytime.

On the other hand, a system container works much like a physical or a virtual machine. You'll manage the system container much the same way you manage a virtual machine. In the system container, you can install packages as well as manage and monitor services like a physical or virtual machine.

System containers are comparatively long-lasting.

The major difference between the two is that Dockers focuses on OS containerization whereas system containers will focus on application containerization. There's a lot that system containers would do that a docker won't be able to perform.

For instance, users can see all the processes that are running within the host system. Above all, you can also share a system of files or specific files directly. You can also restrict or increase the use of resources within the system file.

When should you use Linux Containers?

The major USP of Linux container is that they can easily replace virtual machines or physical setups. Without needing any system or hardware, you can easily pass or remove any device that you have in your container.

Thus, Linux containers are highly coveted if you are looking to save large resources and workloads without disrupting the system configuration.

Linux containers can be used anywhere where portability, configurability, and isolation are most needed. The major goal of these containers is to speed up the development and application creation process.

The best part about these containers is that they can be used on-premise and in the cloud environment.

What is LXC?

LXCs or Linux container project is an open-source container platform containing various tools, libraries, and language bindings for creating Linux apps.

These platforms have a simple command interface that makes it easy to start containers.

LXC includes the operating-system-level virtualization environment that can be installed on many Linux systems.

What is LXD?

LXD is yet another platform that runs at the top of LXC enhancing the experience. It also accounts for easier access to containers.

While LXC is a command interface, LXD is an image-based platform that provides images for various Linux distributions. By getting this command in-line tool, you can quickly and efficiently manage the instances and also integrate them with third-party management tools.

Is Linux container the same as virtualization?

Virtualization is not the same as Linux containers. In fact, the two complement each other.

Virtualization vs Linux containers

Virtualization runs like a virtual machine where your operating system runs on a single hardware system.

On the other hand, containers share the same operating system but they isolate the application processes from the rest of the system. Linux containers function on various operating systems efficiently sharing across the containers keeping your apps light and fast.


In a nutshell, Linux containers are system containers that work much like virtual machines, The only difference lies in the VM overhead cost and faster deployment.

LXCs are efficient for running all types of workloads in the system.

I hope you have got the differences between LXC and LXD and the clear definition of Linux containers.

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