Docker Makes Moby Its Open-Source Brand


Docker’s open-source efforts will no longer carry its name. Instead, the company is launching a new brand, Moby, which will nonetheless still be based on its tech.

If you’re currently running an open-source Docker project, it will continue to work normally. On a technical level, nothing is changing, which should help lower that sysadmin blood pressure.

Moby’s stated goal is to make containerization more ubiquitous. It’s described as a “Lego set” of components, a framework for assembling those Legos, and a forum where Docker-Moby-Lego enthusiasts can “experiment and exchange ideas.” I’m not even being glib; the company says “think of Moby as the ‘Lego Club’ of container systems.”

Side note: The Lego Group does not use Docker.

Docker Moby
This is the Moby logo. Potato-quality image credit: Docker

Moby has three main components. A library will house things like a builder, logging, volume management and networking tools to make containers a bit more approachable. It also has its own Framework, so you can arrange those components into something a bit more workable, then test and deploy your new instance. After you’re ready to get rolling, a new reference assembly (named Moby Origin) is at your service. In a way, it’s a sort of best practices for containerization using Moby tools.

And you might be thinking: “Hey, that sounds like Docker.” You’d be right, too. Moby is not introducing new technology. There are some propositions on the table that may help you tell the difference between the two, though.

The idea for Moby is to split up the container engine into smaller, more consumable chunks. The company wants to yank the actual Docker UI and SDK from Moby to differentiate it. It also wants to clarify Moby “is not limited to the engine, but to the assembly of all the individual components” of the platform. Via Moby, Docker intends to open-source new tools and components already in use at the company, which may benefit the open-source community while providing strong governance.

Confused yet? Everyone seems to be, so you’re not alone. Docker isn’t saying as much, but it feels like the company wants to accelerate its monetization efforts. It may be dividing Moby into more consumable chunks for the uninitiated, but the core functionality is the same. By spinning its open-source efforts into a standalone brand, Docker can position itself as a polished version of Moby worth paying for.

Moby may also be a testing ground. Docker Community Edition (CE), the company’s free version for small teams, isn’t going anywhere. Its Enterprise Edition (EE), the paid tier, is also staying put. Moby doesn’t seem to be affecting either, but opening things up to the developer community is always a good choice, especially if a company wants to see how kids build new toys with old Legos.

We’ve seen similar efforts recently from GitHub and Twitter. Both altered their API environment to be friendlier to users who can’t pay, which bolsters their paid tiers when things scale to that level. In Docker’s case, Moby may also help to demystify containerization for a general audience.