AWS Finch: The Minimal Local Container Solution

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Bret and Nirmal are joined by Phil Estes of AWS to show us the Finch project, which bundles the best open source tools for building and running containers locally. Now it runs on macOS and Windows WSL2.

We've been talking with Phil about this show for months, and now that Finch has come to Windows, we thought it was the best time to clue you in as to why AWS created the Finch project and what it does.

You've probably heard of containerd, the most popular container runtime on the planet and BuildKit, the best way, in my opinion, to build container images. Those two work hand in hand in Docker and many other container tools. But you might not have heard of nerdctl or Lima, which are also open source tools that work with containerd and BuildKit to help you run containers locally in a virtual machine. Well, AWS had the idea of making an easy installer for these four tools. That's how Finch was born.

Finch is not meant to be a replacement of your existing way to run containers. The tools it installs are a bit of a minimum feature set, if you will, and more focused on providing people the exact tools AWS uses in its container platforms, mainly containerd and BuildKit, which are everywhere in AWS. Rather than building something that's feature equivalent to other local container solutions like Docker Desktop and Rancher Desktop, Finch keeps it simple and does the bare minimum. 

If you just want an easily installable and minimal way to build and run local containers at the command line with no goofy, high-end fancy features, pure open source and just on Mac and Windows, at least at this point, you should give Finch a try.

Be sure to check out the live recording of the complete show from February 22, 2024 on YouTube (Ep. 255).

Finch Website
Bret's local container runtime spreadsheet

  • (00:00) - Intro
  • (00:35) - What is Finch?
  • (03:53) - Phil's History with Docker and Finch
  • (07:59) - Deep Dive into AWS Finch Project
  • (11:41) - How do the Components Tie Together
  • (25:31) - Finch's Position in the Container Ecosystem
  • (26:47) - Finch's Capabilities and Comparisons
  • (27:45) - VM Management and Lima Integration
  • (37:51) - Finch's Roadmap and Community Engagement
  • (41:49) - How Does Finch Connect to Lima?
  • (42:45) - Potential Lima Conflicts with Finch
  • (46:38) - Getting Started wtih Finch

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Creators and Guests

Bret Fisher
Bret Fisher
Cloud native DevOps Dude. Course creator, YouTuber, Podcaster. Docker Captain and CNCF Ambassador. People person who spends too much time in front of a computer.
Nirmal Mehta
Nirmal Mehta
Principal Specialist Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Beth Fisher
Beth Fisher
Producer of DevOps and Docker Talk podcast since 2019. Assistant producer on Bret Fisher Live show on YouTube. Business and proposal writer by trade.
Cristi Cotovan
Cristi Cotovan
Video editor and educational content producer. Descript and Camtasia coach.
Phil Estes
Phil Estes
Principal Engineer for @AWS, #CNCF Ambassador, @containerd OSS maintainer, @OCI_ORG TOB, ex-@IBMCloud, father, husband, worship leader/guitarist, cyclist
AWS Finch: The Minimal Local Container Solution
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