April 28, 2017

Amazon is offering Amazon Linux AMI, a Linux distribution tailored for the cloud, for offline use—and it’s using Docker to do it.

Amazon Linux AMI is a Linux-based operating system image that Amazon offers for use on virtual servers running in the AWS cloud. The company doesn’t refer to it as a Linux distribution, but that’s essentially what it is: a lightweight Linux environment designed for hosting workloads in the cloud.

On Oct. 31, the cloud behemoth announced that a Docker container image based on Amazon Linux AMI is now available via the public EC2 container registry. This means anyone can pull the image from the registry, then use it to spin up containers on on-premises infrastructure. The image can also be used as the basis for creating other images.

Driving DevOps—and Containers

It might seem a little strange for a company whose main business is cloud hosting to make part of its cloud hosting stack available for on-premises use. That’s kind of like a fancy restaurant giving away ready-to-cook meals for people to make themselves at home.

Amazon says, however, that making Linux AMI available for on-premises use reflects an effort to help users make the image part of their “development and testing workloads.” In other words, the company wants to make it easier for them to write and test apps on the same environment that they will use when they later deploy those apps in the AWS cloud.

The fact that the Linux image is available as a Docker container makes it even more DevOps-friendly. DevOps teams can deploy the image anywhere where a Docker environment is available.

Plus, the offering also could be a move designed to encourage more developers to experiment with Docker. Once they see how easy it is to deploy Amazon’s Linux distribution via containers, they might realize how containers can help streamline other tasks, too.

Christopher Tozzi

Christopher Tozzi has covered technology and business news for nearly a decade, specializing in open source, containers, big data, networking and security. He is currently Senior Editor and DevOps Analyst with Fixate.io and Sweetcode.io.