Docker has pushed out a new version of its Desktop product, adding WSL 2 support, in its first big release since the container pioneer bifurcated itself last year.
The company popularised containers but struggled to build a convincing revenue model even as Kubernetes overtook its Swarm product at the orchestration level. It sold off its enterprise assets to Mirantis last year, being recapitalised to the tune of $35m in the process, to focus on its Docker Desktop development platform and Docker Hub.
So what have the remaining 80 odd Docker team-mates produced?
Docker Desktop 2.2 includes WSL 2 as a technical preview. This allows users to use Kubernetes on the WSL 2 back end, and gives them the option to “work with just WSL 2/turn off the traditional HyperV VM while working with WSL 2.”
At the same time, the firm promises, users will be able to ”Continue to work as they did in the traditional Docker Desktop with a friendly networking stack, support for http proxy settings, and trusted CA synchronization.” More prosaically, it promises to start Docker Desktop in less than five seconds, and to use Linux Workspaces. It’s worth noting WSL 2 requires Windows 10 Insider Preview build 19018 or greater.
The new release overhauls the file sharing implementation for Windows, which Docker reckons will improve “the developer inner loop user experience”. The Samba protocol used to manage interaction between the Linux file system working with Docker file system has been replaced with gRPC FUSE. This should reduce page loading times, and brings Linux inotify support, amongst other benefits, as well as reducing the amount of code running as administrator. Docker does warn of an “issue” with the gRPC FUSE implementation, in the shape of not supporting connecting to new drives added after Desktop starts.
The new version also brings a new interactive dashboard, with “a single user interface across Mac and Windows.” This covers all running, stopped and started containers, and their status, and allows users to “inspect, interact with, and manage your Docker objects including containers and Docker Compose-based applications”. Previously this was all handled by Kitematic, which will be archived later this year.
There are an array of bug fixes and minor changes, and there are half a dozen “known issues”, including the WSL 2 requirements and gRPC FUSE issues mentioned above.