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Canonical Removes LXD From’s Care

After spending eight years as a Linux Containers project, Canonical says it wants to bring the project back home to Ubuntu.

Container ship and tug
Source: Pixabay

Canonical’s taken LXD back. The company behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution has decided that the project it created, and to which it is the largest contributer, will “be better served directly under Canonical’s own set of projects,” according to a notice posted by, the organization that’s hosted the project for the past eight years.

Linux Containers is the umbrella project behind LXC, the popular Linux container runtime that consists of tools, templates, and library and language bindings. Users like it because of its flexibility, and because it covers almost all features supported by the Linux kernel.

In addition, the organization hosts a variety of other software projects related to LXC, such as LXCFS (a userspace filesystem), distrobuilder (an image building tool for containers and virtual machines), libresource (a library of interfaces for obtaining system resource information), and lxcri (an LXC wrapper that’s used as a drop-in container runtime replacement).

Development of LXC was initially started by IBM in collaboration with several other entities for the purpose of adding namespaces to the kernel. LXC provides operating system-level virtualization through a virtual environment that has its own process and network space, instead of creating a full-fledged virtual machine.

“Our focus is providing containers and virtual machines that run full Linux systems,” the organization says on its website. “While VMs supply a complete environment, system containers offer an environment as close as possible to the one you’d get from a VM, but without the overhead that comes with running a separate kernel and simulating all the hardware.”

LXD, the project that Linux Containers is losing, is a Linux container manager that’s built on top of LXC to provide a better user experience. It’s essentially a container hypervisor providing an API to manage LXC containers. Canonical probably wants to bring the project in-house in order to have more control over its development, as Ubuntu works to beef-up its stack to better take on Red Hat and SUSE, its two largest competitors.

“While the team behind Linux Containers regrets that decision and will be missing LXD as one of its projects, it does respect Canonical’s decision and is now in the process of moving the project over,” Linux Containers said in its statement, which also offered a list of things that will change:

  • will now become
  • will disappear and be replaced with a mention directing users to
  • The LXD YouTube channel will be handed over to the Canonical team
  • The LXD section on the LinuxContainers community forum will slowly be sunset in favor of the Ubuntu Discourse forum run by Canonical
  • The LXD CI infrastructure will be moved under Canonical’s care
  • Image building for Linux Containers will no longer be relying on systems provided by Canonical, limiting image building to x86_64 and aarch64.

The good news from the short list of “what will not be changing” is that most users will still access images from the same location, at least for x86 and aarch64 images.

  • The rest of the Linux Containers projects remain unaffected
  • The image server, currently used by both LXC and LXD will keep operating as normal, though with less architectures available as mentioned above

One subscriber to noted that it appears that the Linux Containers team seems to be opposed to the move, which also requires much cooperation from Linux Containers to make the move happen, and asked, “Why didn’t they refuse to help Canonical take over?”

Another LWN subscriber answered, “[E]ven if they’d rather have kept the project, they may still consider an orderly move to another project better than an acrimonious split with a hostile fork.”

Amen to that.

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