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Chainguard releases Wolfi, a Linux ‘undistribution’

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There are various Linux distributions designed expressly for containers. Even Microsoft has one, Frequent Base Linux (CBL)-Mariner. Others embody Alpine Linux, Flatcar Container Linux, Crimson Hat Enterprise Linux CoreOS (RHCOS), and RancherOS. Now Chainguard, a cloud-native software program safety firm, has a brand new tackle this standard cloud-friendly type of Linux: Wolfi, an “undistribution.” 

I requested Chainguard CEO and founder Dan Lorenc at Open Supply Summit Europe in Dublin what he meant by an “undistrbution.” He defined, “We name it an undistribution as a result of that is technically right. Inside a container, you may have every thing however Linux, proper? So, though it is primarily based on Linux, it is probably not right to name it a Linux distribution.” 

What most individuals name a Linux container, Lorenc continued, is “a distro that boots up on {hardware} and will get you to a container runtime. Alpine might be essentially the most closely used such distro. Wolfi is the alternative of this. It is distroless. It is minimal to the purpose of not even having a package deal supervisor.” It has simply sufficient to run your containerized software, and that is it.  

To make this new Linux variant, Lorenc stated, “We employed a bunch of the unique Alpine group. However, Alpine was by no means designed for containers. It was initially designed for routers, firmware, and that type of factor. What made it enticing for containers was its dimension and safety.” Wolfi takes that minimal method to an excessive for the sake of safety. 

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Lorenc defined, “We consider in minimizing dependencies as a lot as attainable, which simplifies auditing, updating, and transferring photos, in addition to lowering the potential assault floor. Wolfi [named for the smallest and most flexible octopus] is designed from the bottom as much as take full benefit of those containerized environments whereas maximizing safety.”  

Wolfi does extra than simply minimize out all of the fats to safe itself. It additionally comes with built-in software program provide chain safety measures. Particularly, key options are: 

  • Primarily based on the Alpine Package deal (APK) format 
  • Packages are of an applicable granularity and independence to help minimal photos 
  • Comes with a high-quality, build-time software program invoice of supplies (SBOM) for all packages
  • Absolutely declarative and reproducible construct system 

In apply, Chainguard’s distroless photos are rebuilt each day from upstream sources. The photographs are signed through Sigstore, the usual for signing and verifying code, and described in an SBOM. This signature could be verified to point out that the picture is the one you wished and is freed from any tampering.  

Chainguard claims that each single package deal in these photos is reproducible by default. In different phrases, you may get the identical picture in case you construct the package deal your self from the supply code. That is additionally assured by Provide Chain Ranges for Software program Artifacts (SLSA, pronounced salsa). It is a source-to-service safety framework for making certain the integrity of software program artifacts by defending towards unauthorized software program package deal modifications.  

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All these signatures, provenance, and SBOMs are saved in a brand new Open Container Initiative (OCI) registry alongside the pictures. You possibly can then verify on them with Sigstore’s cosign instruments so you’ll be able to belief the pictures.   

Sarcastically, Lorenc stated, “By protecting every thing up-to-date and minimizing the variety of dependencies,” Chainguard makes it in order that “code safety scanners resembling grype, Snyk, and trivy report so few vulnerabilities for our photos, folks typically suppose their scanners aren’t working. However this discount dramatically reduces the burden on groups accountable for investigating and mitigating potential safety points.”  

Moreover Wolfi, Chainguard is updating its Chainguard Photographs, together with base photos for stand-alone binaries, purposes like Nginx, and improvement toolings resembling its Go and C compilers.   

So, in case you like the thought of getting the latest code and full provide chain safety baked into your photos, I strongly counsel you give Wolfi a strive. You are able to do that by shopping and deciding on photos from the Wolfi GitHub repository, They arrive with how-to documentation and could be built-in simply into your current manufacturing pipelines. And, in fact, you’ll be able to verify the safety signing and SBOMs with the cosign instrument.

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