VMware bulks Fusion up for a lightweight take on containers on Mac

VMware Nautilus

Almost two years after starting Project Nautilus, VMware has offered a first glance at the tool to run OCI compliant containers on Mac in a first technical preview. 

In a blog post detailing the project, the team’s vision for Nautilus is described as offering “A single development platform on the desktop that can bring together VMs, Containers and Kubernetes clusters, for building and testing modern applications.”

More specifically, it creates an “ultra-lightweight virtual machine-like process for isolating the container host kernel from the Host system” which VMware calls native pods. Lightweight herein refers to the tools Nautilus goes up against, such as Docker for Mac.

These often create a Linux VM to basically realise Docker commands and run containers within, which means they are part of a private network which also means exposing services and forwarding ports is on the table. In VMware’s approach, containers get their own pods complete with IP addresses from a custom VMnet, which is meant to at least free devs from configuring port forwarding, if they don’t want to. 


As Nautilus grows, its creators aim at “being able to declare full Kubernetes clusters on the desktop” and more broadly helping devs modernising apps by offering mixed solution deployments with containers, VMs, and Kubernetes clusters from a single file.

Nautilus makes use of Project Pacific, which hit beta last November and looks to transform vSphere into a Kubernetes-native application platform. 
Users interested in taking the tool for a spin should download the newly released 20H1 technical preview of VMware’s Fusion Pro, a tool initially built to run Windows on Mac. The TP includes a CLI tool for Nautilus called vctl, which promises a native container runtime on macOS, ways of pulling and pushing container images between remote registries, as well as quick access to debugging facilities.

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