Podman for DevOps - Book Review

(Book cover image courtesy of Amazon)


My Background

My current job title is DevOps Engineer and I spend quite a bit of time "designing" and deploying Docker/OCI images. I've been doing this for multiple years but it has been a while since I've read a book on Docker-related best practices. A lot has happened recently so I thought I might get something out of this very new book.

Thankfully I can say that this book was definitely worth my time and I would highly recommend it to any DevOps Engineer ๐Ÿ˜

What I Liked

First, it shows how most DevOps engineers can replace the proprietary Docker suite on their desktop with Podman, Buildah, and Skopeo. This is a big win for many people since Docker started charging licensing fees for small-scale usage.

Another nice thing about this book is that is spends a good amount of time explaining how containerization on Linux works "under the hood". For example, I knew very little about how storage for a container was actually implemented on a filesystem. This knowledge is helpful regardless of the tools that you use for creating and running containers.

An example of something new I learned was how images are a huge layer of abstraction on top of containers and namespaces. A Dockerfile is a good way of creating one but you also have lots of other options for creating a new image, like:

  • Shell scripts that use the buildah CLI

  • Go apps that use the podman and buildah libraries

The book also shows you common patterns, images and tools for building small, fast images. This information was fairly new to me and I'm eager to see how I can use it to improve things in my future projects.

The book also gives good information on building a image from a container using buildah. I've done this before and found the examples to be very helpful.

What I Disliked

The short answer is not much!

Honestly, the only gripe I have about this book (and it's not a proper one in my opinion) is that it is almost exclusively works with Red Hat and Fedora-based images. This makes sense because Red Hat is a huge supporter of podman and its related tools, and their distributions offer excellent support. Also, many containerized shops are Red Hat shops.

However, I mostly work with Ubuntu-based images. I therefore had to spend a little time re-implementing some of the examples to work on an Ubuntu-based host or create an Ubuntu-based image. It wasn't that difficult and I event learned some cool stuff in the process, but it may be a larger obstacle for container newbies.