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Chiselled Ubuntu images for containers

Smaller container images can save on storage costs, improve the security and even minimise the carbon footprint of our apps.

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Chiselled Ubuntu is Canonical’s take on Distroless container images built using the supported packages from the Ubuntu distribution. Chiselled Ubuntu images are carefully crafted to only fit the strictly required dependencies.

But they aren’t just pre-built images. Chiselled Ubuntu images are tailored to the end-user needs using a developer-friendly package manager called “Chisel”, which is only used at build time and not shipped inside the final image.

Chisel is able to reuse the upstream knowledge and maintenance work from the Ubuntu distribution to only extract the precise slice that is needed to run the production workloads. This makes them smaller and more secure than traditional Ubuntu container images, which often include many additional libraries and utilities. This also means that developers can craft their own chiselled Ubuntu base images, or customise the ones provided by the Canonical team, seamlessly moving from their development environment to production.

These images inherit the advantages of the Ubuntu distribution: regularly updated and supported, offering a reliable and secure platform for creating and operating applications. On the other hand, they suppress the security and efficiency downsides of using a “distro-full” image when shipping to production.

With no doubt, the top benefit using chiselled Ubuntu container images is their smaller size. For applications that are deployed at scale and much more so in distributed and edge computing environments, this can result in significant storage and deployment cost savings.

But size isn’t just a matter of efficiency. Adopting chiselled Ubuntu containers significantly improves the security of your cloud and containerised applications. Chiselled images are secure by design. Besides saving on storage and network costs, their ultra-small image size greatly reduces the attack surface, making them less likely to be affected by vulnerabilities. As a counter-intuitive side effect, chiselled Ubuntu images require less updates (simply because they have less content to update).

Chiselled Ubuntu images come with many performance benefits. Thanks to their optimised footprint, they observe much shorter startup times and use less server memory. A practical consequence is to allow for faster and higher scaling rates — at the same or less cost. And when your application can be scaled down, chiselled Ubuntu images save on energy and resources, diminishing your carbon footprint and cloud spendings.

Chiselled Ubuntu containers for .NET and ASP.NET runtime are now also available on Arm-based platforms, enabling at-scale and cross-platform deployments anywhere. These ultra-small Ubuntu containers can be downloaded from the Microsoft Artifact Registry (MCR).

Check out the video from .NET Conf 2022 below to learn more.

There are many other benefits of using these images in your containers.
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