Red Hat Buildah Tool Streamlines Container Build Process

Red Hat continues to move to make it easier to build container images with the release of version 1.0 of Buildah, an open source utility for building Docker and Open Container Initiative (OCI) images in a Kubernetes environment that can be stored in container registries so they can be used across multiple container runtimes.

Dan Walsh, consulting software engineer for Red Hat, says in addition to reducing the number of manual steps required to create an image, Buildah 1.0 eliminates the need to create a separate daemon for each image. Buildah also eliminates the need to set up special infrastructure on the host or “leaking” host sockets into the container, he says.

New capabilities added to version 1.0 of Buildah, which previously was made available as part of Red Hat Linux (RHEL), include support for external read/write volumes during builds, which enables users to build container images that reference external volumes while being built without having to ship those external volumes in the completed image. That approach allows images to be created without unnecessary and unwanted artifacts being included when deployed in a production environment.

Buildah also now supports multi-stage builds, also known as “build farms.” Walsh described current multi-stage build processes using containers as an “abomination,” largely because of the way the Docker command line interface works today.

Walsh notes that while there’s been a lot of focus on container orchestration, the processes associated with building containers have remained cumbersome. Streamlining these processes will serve to make containers more approachable to developers, which in turn will help accelerate application development within the context of a larger continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) environment, says Walsh, adding that because the current process requires so many daemons to be spun up, it’s not too long before developers encounter a significant number of bottlenecks that can be eliminated by making use of directories to pull and share container images.

Finally, Buildah 1.0 complies with Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS), computer systems standards required by the U.S. federal government for government operations outside the military.

While millions of developers have already embraced containers, there are still millions of developers who have not, for one reason or another. To make building and deploying container images even easier, Walsh says Red Hat will tighten integration between Buildah and the playbooks that are generated by the open source Ansible automation framework that Red Hat provides for managing IT operations.

Adoption of tools such as Buildah will be driven largely by developers within enterprise IT organizations looking to eliminate rote tasks. But as organizations continue to focus on making developers more efficient as part of a concerted effort to increase the number of applications being created per developer team, utilities that increase developer efficiency are going to gain the attention of senior IT managers as well.

Naturally, it’s only a matter of time before various standards bodies turn their attention to container development tools. In the meantime, however, developers that are hard-pressed for time will be looking for any help they can get.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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