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How to explain containers are friends of scientists? Are they?

This was an unconference session, a discussion added to the agenda during the workshop.

Questions and comments

  • Mentioning where containers are used and what are the the alternative and competing tools. Conda was mentioned many times.
  • A story of advertising Containers at an institution to scientists, in particular by organising a semminar giving overview of containers and brief intro into them, including documentation where and how can be used at the institute. But even such activities has not resulted in a serious adaption from the scientists side. On the other side it found other paplication, e.g. where isolation is needed for dividing conservative stable software for controlling scientific instruments and up-to-data data analysis environment. Mentioned that in early times, containers were presented in way expressing only limitted view and applications of them.
  • Mentioned that application in the instrument control, requiring isolation, are interesting.
  • There are different type of containers (docker, singularity, proto???mark) that are appropriate for different situations: service deployment, HPC, isolation etc. A proper one should be choosen depending on the application case.
  • There are many possible options how the given container technology can be adapted/used. One should think it is a versatile technology.
  • Other particular cases where containers were used: a) glibc issues, b) on CentOS
  • Expressing a thought that if containers (or other tools) are not widely used/adopted in the given community (scientists) it can die out.
  • View from BioInformatics: Conda was used a lot (Bioconda), nowadys many computing intensive pipelines are packed into Singularity