Podman 101 at the Middlesex University Mauritius

Thanks to Senior Lecturer and Programme Coordinator, Aditya Santokhee, at the Middlesex University Mauritius, my colleague Chittesh & I got to deliver guest talks at the university today.

Chittesh, also our local Mozillian, spoke about the Internet Health Report and raised privacy concerns surrounding major online platforms. He mentioned the Cambridge Analytica scandal in particular, especially how that raised public awareness about digital privacy. He added that following the enforcement of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulations (EU GDPR), tens of thousands of violation complaints have been filed. Google was fined €50 million for GDPR violations in France.

His talk was more a message to the young students for them to review their online habits and take a moment to think about digital privacy.

On the other hand I had a semi-technical talk about Pods & Containers. Although we had a lecture theatre fully packed with Computer Science students, I was told they were mostly in second year, I realise that not everyone would be acquainted to Linux containers, or yet Linux itself.

Therefore, I started with a gentle introduction about operating systems and where Linux stands. I asked the students whether they are familiar with virtualization and part of the room answered yes. It made it easier to compare between having an "architecture emulator" to run a virtual machine and a simple isolated environment comprising of a bunch of files. That's the simplest explanation I could give to make the students comfortable with the idea of containers.

Then, I moved to the topic of Podman, while doing some demos and helping the students learn how podman run ... could make things easier for them. I asked them a few questions about university assignments such as developing an application and the need of having an "environment" to build or test the application. Instead of having a full Linux environment with a bunch of packages installed & configured simply to serve a web application, a single-line of podman could serve those files in an Nginx container. Especially, doing this without a big-fat-daemon, pun intended! 🤓

I briefly talked about Skopeo and I invited the more adventurous students to peek inside of containers and get a better understanding of what they are made of. The key lesson being, magic is for the users not for the engineer.

I ended the talk with this nice slide copied from my openSUSE MicroOS workshop deck from the openSUSE Asia Summit 2019. 😊

Slides available at speakerdeck.com/ishwon/podman-101.