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Docker vs rkt: What are the differences?

Docker vs rkt: Key Differences

Docker and rkt are both container runtimes used to create, deploy, and manage containerized applications. However, there are several key differences that set these two tools apart:

  1. Container Image Format: Docker uses its own container image format called Docker Image, which includes the application code along with its dependencies bundled together. On the other hand, rkt uses the App Container (ACI) format, which separates the application code and its dependencies into different layers. This allows for better security and easier management of container images in rkt.

  2. Architecture and Design Philosophy: Docker is built around a client-server architecture, where the Docker daemon runs on the host system and manages the containers. In contrast, rkt follows a decentralized design philosophy, where each rkt instance is independent and self-contained. This makes rkt more lightweight and less reliant on a central daemon for operations.

  3. Security Model: Docker has a relatively complex security model, where containers are run with elevated privileges by default. Although Docker has made significant improvements in security, the attack surface area is larger compared to rkt. On the other hand, rkt implements a simpler and more secure security model, by running containers with minimal privileges and using features like namespaces and seccomp for isolation.

  4. Networking: Docker provides a built-in networking solution called Docker Networking, which allows containers to communicate with each other and the outside world. Docker Networking supports multiple networking drivers and provides features like port mapping and overlay networks. In comparison, rkt does not include a built-in networking solution. Instead, it relies on external tools like CNI (Container Network Interface) plugins for networking configurations.

  5. Integration with Orchestration Tools: Docker has gained widespread popularity and has a strong ecosystem with excellent integration with orchestration tools like Kubernetes and Docker Swarm. Many containerized applications and tools have been developed specifically for the Docker ecosystem. While rkt has started gaining popularity, it has limited integration with orchestration tools and a smaller ecosystem compared to Docker.

  6. Ease of Use and User Experience: Docker has invested heavily in providing a user-friendly and intuitive interface for building, deploying, and managing containers. The Docker CLI (Command Line Interface) is well-documented and widely adopted by developers and system administrators. On the other hand, rkt offers a more minimalistic and command-line focused user experience. Although rkt is straightforward to use, it may require a slightly steeper learning curve compared to Docker for beginners.

In summary, Docker and rkt differ in their container image format, architecture, security model, networking capabilities, integration with orchestration tools, and user experience. While Docker has a larger ecosystem and a more user-friendly interface, rkt offers better security and a decentralized design philosophy.

Decisions about Docker and rkt
Florian Sager
IT DevOp at Agitos GmbH · | 3 upvotes · 429.8K views

lxd/lxc and Docker aren't congruent so this comparison needs a more detailed look; but in short I can say: the lxd-integrated administration of storage including zfs with its snapshot capabilities as well as the system container (multi-process) approach of lxc vs. the limited single-process container approach of Docker is the main reason I chose lxd over Docker.

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Pros of Docker
Pros of rkt
  • 823
    Rapid integration and build up
  • 691
  • 521
    Open source
  • 505
    Testa­bil­i­ty and re­pro­ducibil­i­ty
  • 460
  • 218
  • 185
  • 106
    Upgrading / down­grad­ing / ap­pli­ca­tion versions
  • 88
  • 85
    Private paas environments
  • 34
  • 26
    Limit resource usage
  • 17
    Game changer
  • 16
    I love the way docker has changed virtualization
  • 14
  • 12
  • 8
    Docker's Compose tools
  • 6
    Easy setup
  • 6
    Fast and Portable
  • 5
    Because its fun
  • 4
    Makes shipping to production very simple
  • 3
    Highly useful
  • 3
    It's dope
  • 2
    Very easy to setup integrate and build
  • 2
    HIgh Throughput
  • 2
    Package the environment with the application
  • 2
    Does a nice job hogging memory
  • 2
    Open source and highly configurable
  • 2
    Simplicity, isolation, resource effective
  • 2
    MacOS support FAKE
  • 2
    Its cool
  • 2
    Docker hub for the FTW
  • 2
  • 0
  • 5
  • 3
    Robust container portability
  • 2
    Composable containers

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Cons of Docker
Cons of rkt
  • 8
    New versions == broken features
  • 6
    Unreliable networking
  • 6
    Documentation not always in sync
  • 4
    Moves quickly
  • 3
    Not Secure
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    What is Docker?

    The Docker Platform is the industry-leading container platform for continuous, high-velocity innovation, enabling organizations to seamlessly build and share any application — from legacy to what comes next — and securely run them anywhere

    What is rkt?

    Rocket is a cli for running App Containers. The goal of rocket is to be composable, secure, and fast.

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    Blog Posts

    Jul 9 2019 at 7:22PM

    Blue Medora

    DockerPostgreSQLNew Relic+8
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    What are some alternatives to Docker and rkt?
    LXC is a userspace interface for the Linux kernel containment features. Through a powerful API and simple tools, it lets Linux users easily create and manage system or application containers.
    Kubernetes is an open source orchestration system for Docker containers. It handles scheduling onto nodes in a compute cluster and actively manages workloads to ensure that their state matches the users declared intentions.
    Cloud Foundry
    Cloud Foundry is an open platform as a service (PaaS) that provides a choice of clouds, developer frameworks, and application services. Cloud Foundry makes it faster and easier to build, test, deploy, and scale applications.
    Vagrant provides the framework and configuration format to create and manage complete portable development environments. These development environments can live on your computer or in the cloud, and are portable between Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
    Red Hat OpenShift
    OpenShift is Red Hat's Cloud Computing Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering. OpenShift is an application platform in the cloud where application developers and teams can build, test, deploy, and run their applications.
    See all alternatives