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Docker Pauses Image Expiration Enforcement, Announces Subscription Tiers

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Docker announced that they are pausing enforcement of the changes related to image retention until mid-2021. Earlier, they had announced a change in policies to reduce overall resource consumption on Docker. Docker had set the change to take effect on November 1, 2020, which would result in the deletion of images for free Docker account users after six months of inactivity.

Jean-Laurent de Morlhon, vice president of software engineering at Docker, stated that Docker would not enforce image expiration on November 1. Instead, Docker will be focusing on consumption-based subscriptions that meet the needs of all the users. Developers will get a base level of consumption to start and can extend their subscriptions as per their requirements, only paying for what is actually needed.

Anonymous free users will be limited to 100 pulls per six hours, and authenticated free users will be limited to 200 pulls per six hours. Docker Pro and Team subscribers can pull container images from Docker Hub without restriction as long as the quantities are not excessive or abusive.

With varying user needs, the new model will allow each developer or organization to scale their usage and consumption along the dimensions that make the most sense.

Morlhon also announced that Docker would be adding new capabilities to help users understand and manage their various resources on the platform. For instance, Docker hub will soon release an experimental Hub CLI tool, a Hub Dashboard, and new APIs for image storage.

Explaining this further, Morlhon mentioned that the goal is to give developers the insights required to understand and manage their image storage in Docker Hub effectively. Docker will announce the timeline for new image retention policies in early 2021.

When it comes to abusive/excessive usage for Pro and Team subscriptions, there will be a process where an email will inform the customer about the usage overage through email and response headers from Docker Hub. In case of continued abuse, there will be a hard restriction in usage. For additional details about Docker subscription levels and differentiators, our readers can refer to the Docker pricing page.

Twitter user and cloud engineer at Google, Abdellfetah Sghiouar, tweeted, "I bet a big part of the issue they have with consumption is that in the free tier people are using fat containers and pushing them over and over and over again. If everyone would move to slim containers we will be in a better place."

As a response to this announcement, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is planning to create its own public container image registry. Amazon is also planning to create a new website that anyone can browse through and pull available images from, including anonymous users.

An observed pattern with developers is that they don't develop containers for typical applications they use. Instead, they pull one from Docker Hub or another repository and start running it immediately. Amazon's short fix is to copy the public images to the Amazon Elastic Container Registry or any other registry to deal with Docker's rate limiting.

Morlhorn emphasized that feedback and suggestions from the Docker community are always appreciated.

Readers can also refer to the subsequent blog posts providing updates on Hub rate limits and answering common questions.

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