News/Tech News

Open-Source Container Management Tool from AWS

Published on Dec 25, 2022

Amazon Web Services has released Finch, an open-source, cloud-agnostic, command-line client for building, running, and publishing Linux containers. Finch integrates a number of open-source components, such as Lima, nerdctl, containerd, and BuildKit. As of the time of release, Finch is a native macOS client that supports all Mac CPU architectures.

Phil Estes, principle engineer at Amazon Web Services, and Chris Short, senior developer advocate at AWS, stated, “Finch is our response to the complexity of curating and assembling an open source container development tool for macOS initially, followed by Windows and Linux in the future.”. A core client of Finch will always consist of open-source, vendor-neutral projects curated by the company.

Some have questioned the rationale behind developing another container management tool. Flakmaster92 recently asked on Reddit “what can Finch do today that something like Podman cannot?” Jeongmin Hong, on the CNCF Slack #finch channel, also wondered, “I wonder how different Docker Desktop or Podman Desktop and this project [are]. What is the difference between them?”

Furthermore, Estes stated that, while Finch is based on many of the same components (Lima, containerd, nerdctl) as Rancher and Docker Desktop, it is solely focused on command line usage.

Because Finch is based on nerdctl, most nerdctl commands and options work as they would if the tool were running natively on Linux. Images can be pulled from registries, containers can be run locally, and Dockerfiles can be used to build images. Finch can build and run images for either amd64 or arm64 architectures by using emulation.

Although Finch’s core will remain vendor-neutral, Estes and Short indicated that future plans for Finch will include support for downstream consumers to create their own extensions. AWS-specific extensions will be opt-in to avoid “impacting or fragmenting the open source core or upstream dependencies on which Finch depends”. Extensions will be maintained in their own projects with their own release cycles.

The Finch virtual environment must be initialized via finch vm init once it has been installed. As a result, Finch can be started using the finch vm start command.

The run command will retrieve the image if it does not already exist, then create and start the container. Once the container command has exited, the optional –rm flag will delete the container.

Currently, Finch only supports macOS, although the team has stated that Windows and Linux support is on the agenda for the future. It is necessary to have macOS Catalina (10.15), an Intel or Apple Silicon M1 system, and a minimum configuration of two CPUs and 4 GB of memory in order to run macOS.

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