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Before we explore why packagecloud is a well-suited package manager for Alpine Linux, let's take a look at what Alpine Linux is and why you should use it.
Alpine Linux was originally built as a fork of LEAF (Linux Embedded Appliance Framework). LEAF was a collection of Linux distributions and was a fork from the Linux Router Project (LRP) distribution (now a defunct networking-centric micro-Linux distribution).
Alpine Linux was curated to serve as a lightweight distro that could fit on a single floppy disk and run on RAM. Basically, Alpine Linux is a technical concept, designed for people with technical skills that need innovative ways of solving problems.
In 2016, when Docker switched its image library from Ubuntu to Alpine, Alpine entered the limelight and started to gain popularity. Alpine Linux is a general Linux distribution designed with a security-oriented, lightweight Linux distribution approach for power users who appreciate the simplicity and recurse efficiency.
Alpine Linux is said to be small as it is built upon musl libc and BusyBox. This makes Alpine smaller than traditional GNU/Linux distributions but more resource efficient. It uses OpenRC as its init system and grsecurity/PaX patched Linux kernel. Alpine Linux was created with proactive security features to prevent exploitation. It compiles all the userland binaries as PIE (Position-Independent Executables) with stack smashing protection to ensure the security of the binaries.
Packagecloud is a cloud-based service for distributing different software packages in a unified, reliable, and scalable way, without owning any infrastructure. You can keep all of the packages that need to be distributed across your organization's machines in one repo, regardless of OS or programming language. Then, you can efficiently distribute your packages to your devices in a secure way, without having to own any of the infrastructure involved in doing so.
This enables users to save time and money on setting up servers for hosting packages for each OS. Packagecloud allows users to set up and update machines faster and with less overhead than ever before.
Sign up for the packagecloud free trial to get your machines set up and updated easily!
Why choose Alpine Linux?
One of the major advantages of Alpine is the size it offers. The unique feature of Alpine—its size—makes it extremely efficient and secure. In an interview, Natanael Copa, the creator of Alpine Linux said, “in comparison to other big competitors like RedHat Enterprise Linux or SUSE Enterprise Linux server, Alpine is no less.” In fact, he stated “these distribution systems are more polished and easy to use for many things, but comparatively, Alpine has the same functionality and takes no more time than others in performing any function.”
For instance, he added, “the ‘apt-get update’ takes likely the same time to update package index cache as Alpine would take to perform the entire system installation or upgrade. So there is no reason to not choose Alpine Linux above others.”
When it comes to security, as mentioned above, the Alpine Linux distro uses PIE to randomize the program location in the memory. This way, as images have a smaller footprint, it has a smaller surface for attack. Thus, with hardened security, it helps to avoid attackers taking over the machine or exploiting the quirks in the memory.
Furthermore, to reduce vulnerability, Alpine never installs the extra stuff that users will not use but might be handy. They argue that using the BusyBox as the default shell helps Alpine install no Bash by default. Thus, with this, the configuration is minimalist, and no Alpine system can be affected by Shellshock Bash attacks. Additionally, to keep the pre-installed components lower in number, Alpine has several more layers of security; however, they aren’t automatically enabled.
This is contrary to many other distros, as they not only do a lot of installation by default but have many things enabled without consent. So, when you have Alpine, the sysadmin can enable and adjust the security features from the start and does not have all layers enabled by default.
As is evident, the functions mentioned above are reason enough to choose Alpine if you’re concerned about security issues and need a small Linux distro.
Package management for Alpine Linux
Alpine uses its own package manager known as ‘apk-tools’ and avoids using the others. Do not confuse apk with Android’s .apk, as Alpine’s apk stands for Alpine Package Keeper. Indeed, apk and .apk were in use with Alpine before Google bought Android Inc.
Now, the specialty of Alpine is its size, and developers wanted a distro that could fit in the memory. Thus, Alpine Linux was created to be as small as possible. Besides, according to Copa, Alpine built its own Linux distro because they wanted it to run from RAM, needed a fast manager that could set up initfs and tmpfs roots, and aimed to provide a low overhead for the installed package database.
To deliver packages to the users, Alpine uses “aports”. It is a tree for the distro of the ported application, which only a few Alpine package maintainers opt to keep up to date with upstream.
Using this tree, a package repository is built and rsync to the master mirror. This creates a mirror site list which mirrors repositories where end-users use “apk add” to lure out the required packages over HTTP.
To ensure security, packages are signed and verified by the apk add, to validate that they aren't accidentally modified. Alpine currently contains GNOME, Xfce, and Firefox, among others—which are the most commonly used packages.
Package management for Alpine Linux with packagecloud
Since Alpine has its own package management system, certain limitations are posed on the functionality. As Alpine uses the syslinux bootloader, it can only access files that are located in its own portion. It might not go for the multi-file booting that can pose problems for some users.
Secondly, as apk cuts down on the image size, many users are not satisfied with the resulting image, and it can take hours to install the Alpine dpkg packages. Thus, to avoid any such hassles and manage the packages securely, you can switch to packagecloud to manage your packages.
Using packagecloud, you can manage all your packages from one interface and deploy them to any environment without seeing a cut in the size of the images. It is a reliable hosted package repository service, where you can store all the packages without an OS programming language and distribute them to the respective machines repeatedly. You can manage all your packages without owning infrastructure.
Get a free trial of packagecloud to see how it is a better fit for Alpine Linux. This package management platform assists users to avoid package dependency confusion and resolve any vulnerabilities caused in the software supply chain.
So, by integrating this straightforward, secured, reliable, and super-fast package manager, you can manage and deploy all your packages with ease.
Packagecloud just released support for Alpine Linux
Packagecloud, with all its secured features, is pleased to announce that it now supports the Alpine Linux version alpine/v3.13 and onwards.
Regardless of whether you need to Yank or Push a package, upload multiple packages and skip errors, deploy, distribute, and change the repositories, or simply download or install packages from the public or private repo, packagecloud can handle it all. We have public and private repositories for Alpine Linux which are designed for ultra-fast and secured delivery of your Alpine packages.
Packagecloud is a cloud-native, secured, and universal package management system that is made for enterprises with distributed and in-house modern teams. We can handle and keep all your software assets secured and accessible from anywhere in the world without compromising the performance. Packagecloud can also manage and support all the other formats of your packages. Thus, sharing and controlling the software assets becomes easy across the entire enterprise, and, as a result, it helps accelerate the software pipeline, which later improves and alleviates the quality of the end products, unlike (sometimes) the APK that Alpine Linux has for its end results.
Packagecloud: your security-focused package manager
When organizations trust packagecloud with critical information of their packages, we believe it is our responsibility to take care of these business assets with complete care. At packagecloud, the security of packages is paramount—it is the most important thing to us.
Packagecloud complies with the PCI Data Security Standards, as we use Stripe along with end-to-end SSL/TLS across the website to process all credit card payments. In addition, packagecloud.io is strictly HTTPS/SSL. It does not use any plain text for security purposes.
We have blocked access from Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan, and North Korea due to the ongoing economic sanctions in the United States. To share any security concerns or reports, you can reach firstname.lastname@example.org with the encrypted message using the GPG key.
There are more security standards and layers to protect your information. In fact, when you use the on-premises enterprise product, packagecloud:enterprise, it is run on your system by your existing information security controls, which does not allow information to pass to the packagecloud:enterprise installation.
In short, packagecloud with its security features is your secured package manager solution. To understand how packagecloud can eliminate worries regarding scaling, consistency, or security of your packages, check out the free trial.Take the trial to see how easily and reliably packages can be distributed throughout your entire organization.
If you are looking forward to getting a package manager for your business that not only supports Alpine Linux but also Gradle, Maven, Lien, SBT, etc.—simply opt for packagecloud package manager. It works effectively and efficiently and ensures smooth operations.