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But this type of virtualization can be resource-intensive and inefficient.

When running multiple virtual machines on a single computer, you might quickly run into the limits of the physical machine by allocating large disk drives or carving out multiple Gigabytes of dedicated RAM for each VM instance.

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Although virtualization in the modern sense actually happened as early as the 1960s with VMs for IBM System/360 machines [2], and both the 286 and 386 chips contained some species of virtualization [3], it wasn’t until 2001 when VMWare introduced its x86 virtualization products that Linux-based virtualization really took off.

With technologies like KVM [4] and Xen [5] looming large for local deployment and products like Amazon Web Services [6] and the Open Stack [7] framework claiming the cloud, the jumbled, messy, white-box-PC-and-CDROM-tower-laden server room is more or less extinct; today, you can create multiple virtual machines out of minimal physical machines.

It’s a very simple Docker container and is built with two components.

The first of which, the statement defines a default program to run inside the container if no specific command is given; here, we want containers to run the file using /bin/bash.

Machine-level VMs are about faithful recreation of hardware — right down to RAM allotment, how many CPUs to assign, emulating NICs, and so forth — and operating system level virtualization is about , not machines [21].

Most of the time when we’re developing, testing, and releasing software we care about applications and not really the specific hardware environment — real or virtual — that we’re developing in, perhaps except with emulating historical hardware [22] and other edge cases.

As much as possible, these would be drop-in replacements for those old white boxes. Anything that makes this process more efficient lets developers spend more time doing the specific work that they’re good at.

Some instances, like for a given ILS, would be bound by convention or licensing to have as little deviation from a traditional install as possible. The popular Virtualbox [8] software, for instance, is very heavily GUI-oriented [9] and has therefore had an entire framework [10] built around it designed to make the creating and destroying of Virtualbox VMs scriptable.

Docker is a relatively new method of virtualization available natively for 64-bit Linux.

Compared to more traditional virtualization techniques, Docker is lighter on system resources, offers a git-like system of commits and tags, and can be scaled from your laptop to the cloud.

A listing of virtual machines on a single server at the author’s workplace.

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