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What is rkt?

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rkt is an application container engine developed for modern production cloud-native environments. It features a pod-native approach, a pluggable execution environment, and a well-defined surface area that makes it ideal for integration with other systems.

The core execution unit of rkt is the pod, a collection of one or more applications executing in a shared context (rkt's pods are synonymous with the concept in the Kubernetes orchestration system). rkt allows users to apply different configurations (like isolation parameters) at both pod-level and at the more granular per-application level. rkt's architecture means that each pod executes directly in the classic Unix process model (i.e. there is no central daemon), in a self-contained, isolated environment. rkt implements a modern, open, standard container format, the App Container (appc) spec, but can also execute other container images, like those created with Docker.


Following the unix tools philosophy, rkt is a single binary that integrates with init systems, scripts, and complex devops pipelines. Containers take their correct place in the PID hierarchy and can be managed with standard utilities.

Customizable isolation

Use containers as a standard, more secure deployment object, and choose the appropriate level of isolation using rkt’s pluggable runtime architecture, known as stages.

Pods built-in

The atomic unit in rkt is the pod, a group of related containers that share resources. This allows for easy stacking of related components, and maps directly to cluster management concepts.

Since its introduction by CoreOS in December 2014, the rkt project has greatly matured and is widely used. It is available for most major LinuxⓇ distributions and every rkt release builds self-contained rpm/deb packages that users can install. These packages are also available as part of the Kubernetes repository to enable testing of the rkt + Kubernetes integration. rkt also plays a central role in how Google Container Image and CoreOS Container Linux run Kubernetes. Red Hat has donated the project to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) is now home to rkt.

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