Data Centers

The latest Windows Server beta has a surprising feature: Support for Linux containers

According to a Windows blog, the beta for Windows Server version 1709 will allow developers to run Windows and Linux containers on the same machine.

It seems that Microsoft and Linux are slowly shifting from their positions as sworn enemies to that of infrastructure allies. In a Wednesday Windows blog post, Microsoft unveiled that the beta for Windows Server version 1709 would offer support for Linux containers.

Since the appointment of CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft's position on Linux has gradually softened, and changes in infrastructure trends are likely playing a role. In addition to supporting Linux as Hyper-V virtual machines and creating its Linux-based Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), the Redmond giant recently gave certain users the ability to run a host of Linux distributions with Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

Now, Microsoft is attempting to lock arms with Linux on containers. The impetus, as noted by Windows Server senior program manager Patrick Lang in the blog post, was the eagerness of developers to run Windows or Linux containers on the same machine.

SEE: IT pro's guide to working smarter with Linux (Tech Pro Research)

"This feature uses Hyper-V isolation to run a Linux kernel with just enough OS to support containers," Lang wrote in the post. "Since then, we've been hard at work building this technology with new functionality in Hyper-V, joint work with the Linux community, and contributions to the open source Moby project on which Docker technology is built."

As long as a user has a Windows 10 or Windows Server Insider Preview build 16267 or later, a build of the Docker daemon based off the Moby master branch, and a compatible Linux image, they can get started today. According to ZDNet's Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, the feature will come to ordinary users sometime in October.

More information on how to run Docker Linux containers on Windows was posted in the Docker blog. Additionally, Ubuntu's Dustin Kirkland detailed how users could run Ubuntu containers with Hyper-V Isolation here.

The move to officially support Linux containers in Windows Server is a logical next step for Microsoft as it attempts to build itself out as a resource for next-generation infrastructure pros. With the continual blurring of the lines between the two camps, one can't help but wonder if the next generation of "hybrid infrastructure" will refer to Linux and Windows instead of on-premises and in the cloud.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. According to a Windows blog, the beta for Windows Server version 1709 will support Linux containers and Windows containers.
  2. Hyper-V isolation is utilized to run the Linux containers, relying on just enough of the OS to support containers themselves.
  3. The move is a logical next step for Microsoft as it deepens its Linux integrations in order to support a broader group of developers and operations professionals.

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Image: iStockphoto/Pannawat

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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