Like the various Linux server and desktop distributions, the container-oriented Linux distributions mix and match various projects and components to construct a complete container infrastructure. These distros generally combine a minimal OS kernel, an orchestration framework, and an ecosystem of container services. RancherOS not only fits the mold, but takes the minimal kernel and the container paradigm to extremes.

RancherOS is a container infrastructure platform that runs Docker directly on top of a reduced footprint (20MB) Linux kernel. Rancher’s take on a minimalist OS is unique in that even the init process is a Dockerized service container. Likewise, traditional system level services, like NTP and DNS, have been replaced with containerized equivalents.