The Evolution of DockerSlim: New Name, New Capabilities and Closer Alignment with the Cloud Native Ecosystem

Slim is growing and adding support for new container tools and infrastructure.
Kyle Quest
Jan 04, 2023

Photo by Jakub Skafiriak on Unsplash

DockerSlim was created during one of the global Docker hackathons to solve a problem I had creating production-ready containers. It turned out I wasn't the only one with that problem and the tool got attention and adoption from the developer, DevOps, and security communities. Now the problem is bigger than ever because containers are a fundamental component of the modern cloud native software stack.

The cloud native ecosystem is growing and there are a lot more container tools and infrastructure these days. The user community has been asking to support this growing container infrastructure ecosystem and we are finally getting there. The journey has already started and the new name, SlimToolkit, makes it official.

The toolkit part of the name shows that Slim is doing more than just minifying container images. The xray command wasn't there originally, but now it's one of its most powerful capabilities in the tool giving you visibility into your containers when you need to understand and troubleshoot them.

Slim is also addressing the debugging problem when you use minimal container images (created with Slim, other tools, or manually) because the traditional container debugging tools and techniques no longer work. In most cases you can't even docker exec / nerdctl exec / podman exec / kubectl exec to the target containers you are trying to debug because those containers don't have shells.

Thanks to the recent GA status of ephemeral containers in Kubernetes minimal, container images will go mainstream and Slim will make it easier to debug them allowing you to have your debugging tools when you need them without permanently bloating the application images and increasing their potential attack surface.

There are a lot more interesting capabilities and integrations (current and future) and the best way to continue the journey is to have a closer alignment with CNCF and the cloud native community in general.

One of the goals for 2023 is to move the project closer to the CNCF ecosystem, first by submitting it as a Sandbox project and then by pursuing Incubation status. I've always wanted the project to be part of the CNCF ecosystem. When the project just started I submitted it to be a part of the CNCF landscape, but initially there was no logo and then later there was a concern with the name. Now that the project has a new name we are in a good place to continue that journey. There are lot more plans for 2023, so stay tuned for more updates later.

The Github org name and the project repo names are also changing ("https://github.com/slimtoolkit/slim"), but thanks to the transparent redirect capability in Github the project will still be accessible through the old URL. The old landing page URL will also redirect you to the new landing page URL ("https://slimtoolkit.org"). The new release packages will have symlinks for the old name app name, but it's a good idea to update your scripts to use the new app binary name ("slim"). Transitioning to the new project name should be mostly smooth for the Slim app users. Please create a Github issue if you have any problems and we'll figure out how to help you.

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