How to Choose Containerd and Docker

Last updated: 2020-02-24 16:37:46

How do you select a container runtime?

As one of the most important components of Kubernetes (K8s), a container runtime manages the lifecycle of images and containers. Kubelet interacts with the container runtime through the Container Runtime Interface (CRI) to manage images and containers.

TKE supports containerd and Docker as a container runtime:

  • (Recommended) Containerd has a shorter calling chain and fewer components and features higher stability and lower node resource consumption.
  • Docker should be used as the runtime component if you need to use the following:
    • Docker in docker;
    • Commands such as docker build/push/save/load;
    • Docker API;
    • Docker compose or docker swarm.

What are the commands commonly used in containerd and Docker?

containerd does not support docker API or docker CLI. However, you can get these features with cri-tool commands.

Image-related Features Docker containerd
Display the local image list docker images crictl images
Download an image docker pull crictl pull
Upload an image docker push None
Delete a local image docker rmi crictl rmi
View image details docker inspect IMAGE-ID crictl inspecti IMAGE-ID
Container-related Features Docker containerd
Display the container list docker ps crictl ps
Create a container docker create crictl create
Start a container docker start crictl start
Stop a container docker stop crictl stop
Delete a container docker rm crictl rm
View container details docker inspect crictl inspect
attach docker attach crictl attach
exec docker exec crictl exec
logs docker logs crictl logs
stats docker stats crictl stats
Pod-related Features Docker containerd
Display the Pod list None crictl pods
View Pod details None crictl inspectp
Run a Pod None crictl runp
Stop a Pod None crictl stopp

What are the differences between the calling chains of containerd and Docker?

  • When Docker is used as the K8s container runtime, the calling chain is as follows:
    kubelet --> docker shim (in the kubelet process) --> dockerd --> containerd
  • When containerd is used as the K8s container runtime, the calling chain is as follows:
    kubelet --> cri plugin (in the containerd process) --> containerd

Although Docker offers more features such as swarm cluster, docker build, and docker API, it may also introduce some bugs and requires one more calling step than containerd.

Stream Service

Commands such as kubectl exec and kubectl logs require the establishment of a stream forwarding channel between the apiserver and the container runtime.

How are stream services used and configured in containerd?

The docker API itself provides a stream service, and the docker-shim inside the Kubelet forwards streams through the docker API.
The stream service of containerd needs to be configured separately:

  stream_server_address = ""
  stream_server_port = "0"
  enable_tls_streaming = false

What are the differences between versions before and after k8s 1.11?

The stream service of containerd has different configurations for different versions of K8s.

  • Before K8s v1.11:
    Kubelet performs redirection but not stream proxying. That is, Kubelet sends the stream server address opened by containerd to the apiserver which then directly accesses the stream service of containerd. You need to authenticate the stream service forwarder for security purposes.
  • K8s v1.11 and later:
    K8s v1.11 introduced kubelet stream proxy, so that the stream service of containerd only needs to listen to the local address.

Other Differences

Item Docker containerd
Storage path Docker saves container logs to a directory such as /var/lib/docker/containers/$CONTAINERID. Kubelet will create a soft link under /var/log/pods and /var/log/containers pointing to the container log files in the /var/lib/docker/containers/$CONTAINERID directory. Kubelet saves container logs to the /var/log/pods/$CONTAINER_NAME directory, and creates a soft link under /var/log/containers pointing to the log files.
Configuration parameters Specify in the Docker configuration files:
"log-driver": "json-file",
"log-opts": {"max-size": "100m","max-file": "5"}
  • Method 1: Specify in the Kubelet parameters:

  • Method 2: Specify in KubeletConfiguration:
    "containerLogMaxSize": "100Mi",
    "containerLogMaxFiles": 5,
Save container logs to the data disk Mount the data disk to "data-root" (/var/lib/docker by default). Create a soft link /var/log/pods to point to a directory under the data disk mounting point.
Selecting "Store containers and images in the data disk" in TKE will automatically create the soft link /var/log/pods.

CNI Network

Item Docker containerd
Component responsible for calling CNI docker-shim inside Kubelet containerd's built-in cri-plugin (in containerd v1.1 or later)
How to configure CNI Kubelet parameters --cni-bin-dir and --cni-conf-dir containerd configuration file (toml):
bin_dir = "/opt/cni/bin"
conf_dir = "/etc/cni/net.d"