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AWS Launches Amazon Linux Container Image

| by Steffen Opel Follow 3 Followers on Nov 28, 2016. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

AWS recently launched a Docker container image for its Amazon Linux operating system, complementing the EC2 specific Amazon Linux AMI with a versatile deployment option for custom cloud and on-premise environments. The image is available through the Amazon EC2 Container Registry (Amazon ECR), and also as an official repository on Docker Hub.

The Amazon Linux AMI is a "supported and maintained Linux image provided by Amazon Web Services" that is designed to "provide a stable, secure, and high performance execution environment for applications running on Amazon EC2". It has long been the base image for most of AWS' Linux based offerings, such as the AWS Elastic Beanstalk platforms, the Amazon Elastic MapReduce releases, and the Amazon EC2 Container Service instances.

While Amazon Linux has also been a popular choice for custom Linux workloads on EC2 accordingly, more widespread adoption suffered from lack of support for the dev/prod parity principle, which advocates to "keep development, staging, and production as similar as possible". AWS now addressed this concern by publishing an Amazon Linux container image on the Amazon EC2 Container Registry (AWS' own fully-managed Docker container registry), and also as an official repository on Docker Hub. The image can be pulled as usual:

# Pull Amazon Linux container image from Amazon ECR
region=<regionname>
$(aws ecr get-login --region $region --registry-ids 137112412989)
docker pull 137112412989.dkr.ecr.$region.amazonaws.com/amazonlinux

# Pull Amazon Linux container image from Docker Hub
docker pull amazonlinux

A notable difference between the Amazon Linux AMI and container image is that the AMI comes with frequently used AWS related packages pre-installed, for example the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI). In contrast, according to the AWS team, they have "made the container image as small as [they] can with the bare minimum for portability" (currently 292.3 MB) and "customers are encouraged to configure the container to meet their needs". Given the container image "is built from the same source code and packages", users can install all available Amazon Linux AMI packages.

Support for the Amazon Linux container image is provided via the new Amazon Linux forum, which now also covers the Amazon Linux AMI (it had previously been supported via the Amazon EC2 forum, where respective information remains available). The Amazon ECR user guide details how to pull the Amazon Linux Container Image, and the Amazon Linux AMI user guide features topics that apply to the container image as well, for example repository configuration and adding packages. Release notes are available via the Amazon Linux AMI hub.

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