BalenaOS shares a lot with cloud operating systems for containers. We share the focus on minimalism, getting out of the user’s way and letting their container do the heavy lifting, and using Docker, which is the standard way of running containers, and well understood by a large developer community. BalenaOS applies the same principles to a different domain, that of embedded Linux devices, sometimes called “connected devices”, “Internet of Things” or “Industrial Internet”, depending on the use case. While some of the cloud operating systems have been made to run on particular embedded devices, their architecture is geared towards the cloud, where they shine.
By applying the container paradigm to the embedded world, the balenaOS team has faced and solved a unique set of challenges that are not common in the cloud and datacentre world, such as:
- The extreme heterogeneity of device types found in the wild;
- Severely restricted resource envelopes in terms of storage, CPU, and networking;
- Devices that are difficult to reach or re-provision upon failure, where power is unstable and may be turned off at any time, or with custom hardware attached.
BalenaOS is built for this world from scratch, and our deepest architectural and feature choices have been made exclusively with embedded devices in mind. BalenaOS is built for embedded devices, and this focus continues to drive our architectural objectives.