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Open Container Project renames, says standard is just weeks away

Linux Foundation, Docker and friends opt for Open Container Initiative

By Neil McAllister, 22 Jul 2015

One month after launching an industry-wide consortium aimed at creating a common runtime and image format for application containers, Docker and the Linux Foundation say the effort is making rapid progress.

One big(ish) change is in the name. The group launched in June as the Open Container Project. Henceforth it will be known as the Open Container Initiative (OCI), although we're told the change is mainly to avoid confusion with another effort within the Linux Foundation that bagged the OCP acronym first.

Since it was announced, OCI has nearly doubled its membership and now includes around 30 member organizations, and not all of them are software or IT companies. Twitter, for example, is a web-scale company that wants to use containers as part of its own infrastructure. Also joining are AT&T and Verizon, the two largest US telecom companies.

Another new member is Oracle, which brings a unique perspective on the container concept to the table.

"We want to have a standard that's really multi-OS. So lots of the companies involved have lots of expertise in Linux, and that's where Docker comes from," Docker engineer Patrick Chanezon told The Register in a phone briefing. "Microsoft helps with the Windows aspect of the spec. But Oracle is joining ... and can bring some expertise to the table about Solaris-specific aspects of containers, because containers have been in Solaris for 10 years, with Zones."

At the OSCON conference in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday, Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation announced that the group has a draft version of its charter ready for comment along with a Maintainer's Guide describing the project's day-to-day technical governance.

Maybe the biggest surprise, however, is how quickly the actual technical specifications are coming together – especially given the animosity that appeared to be brewing among the container community before the OCI effort was announced.

"For this one I was kind of expecting really a long time for us to make progress," Chanezon told El Reg. "But we're just one month after the announcement and we nearly have our first draft ready. I've never seen a standard get elaborated so fast."

Chanezon added that the reference implementation of the OCI spec, runc, is tracking the specification effort very closely, and developers can download it from the project's GitHub repository and play with it beginning on Wednesday.

They can also start to comment on the current version of the specification, which is rapidly approaching a first draft.

"At that time, it's kind of a first draft to say, hey, we have covered most of the issues that we wanted to solve when we decided to create that project; now we are open for wider community comments for what we need to do in order to get that into a 1.0 version that will be stable for quite a while," Chanezon explained.

He added that at the rate the OCI effort is going now, he expects that first draft of the specification to be ready within the next two to three weeks. ®

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