Cloud Computing, DevOps

3 Mins Read

The Power of runC and OCI in Containerization


The containerization revolution has swept the tech world, enabling efficient application deployment and management. At the heart of this lies a dynamic duo: runC and OCI. While often mentioned in the same breath, understanding their distinct roles and interplay is crucial for navigating the container landscape. So, grab your virtual cup of coffee, and let’s dive into their fascinating world. In the fast-paced world of containerization, understanding the core components is crucial. Two key players in this ecosystem are runC and the Open Container Initiative (OCI). While closely related, they serve distinct purposes. Let’s delve into their individual roles and how they work together.

About runC

Imagine a conductor expertly orchestrating a complex symphony. That’s what runC does in the container world.

This lightweight, CLI-based tool serves as the core execution engine for containers.

It adheres to the Open Container Initiative (OCI) runtime specification, ensuring consistency and portability across different container platforms. runC’s primary responsibility is to:

  • Execute container images: It takes an image, unpacks its contents, sets up namespaces and cgroups for isolation, and then executes the specified process within the container.
  • Manage the container lifecycle: runC can start, stop, pause, and resume containers, offering granular control over their execution.
  • Provide minimal functionality: Unlike frameworks like Docker, runC focuses solely on low-level execution, making it lean and versatile.

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Now, imagine the sheet music that binds the orchestra together. That’s the role of OCI. This industry-backed initiative defines open standards for container images, runtimes, and registries. By establishing these standards, OCI ensures:

  • Interoperability: Containers built for one platform can run seamlessly on another, fostering ecosystem diversity and vendor independence.
  • Portability: Developers can share and deploy containerized applications effortlessly across different environments.
  • Innovation: Standardization stimulates healthy competition and continuous improvement within the container ecosystem.

Steps to install skopeo to run OCI and Docker Container

Step 1: Update the VM with the following command


Step 2: Run the following command to install skopeo



Check the version


Step 3: Now you can run OCI containers on your machine to check the layout


runC and OCI

runC plays a critical role in fulfilling OCI’s vision of standardization. By adhering to the OCI runtime specification, runC guarantees consistent container execution across platforms, regardless of the higher-level container management tools used (e.g., Docker, containerd). This synergy between runC and OCI empowers developers and organizations to:

  • Build once, deploy anywhere: Eliminate vendor lock-in and optimize workflows with platform-agnostic container images.
  • Choose the right tools for the job: Select container management tools based on specific needs without worrying about underlying execution compatibility.
  • Benefit from continuous innovation: Leverage ongoing advancements in the OCI ecosystem, ensuring containers remain at the forefront of technology.


As we reach the crescendo of our exploration, it’s clear that runC and OCI are not just individual players but rather a harmonious duet shaping the future of containerization. runC, the powerful yet minimalist maestro, faithfully executes the container symphony, while OCI, the standardization sheet music, ensures consistency and portability across the orchestra. The future of runC and OCI is bright, with ongoing development focused on security, performance, and seamless integration with emerging technologies. By embracing this dynamic duo, you’re not just joining a trend but actively shaping the future of application development and deployment. So, keep your conductor’s baton close, follow the rhythm of the OCI score, and let runC orchestrate your containers to success.

Drop a query if you have any questions regarding runC and we will get back to you quickly.

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1. Is runC the same as Docker?

ANS: – No, runC is a lightweight tool focused on the core execution of containers, while Docker is a comprehensive platform offering image building, management, and registry integration on top of runC.

2. What are the benefits of using runC directly?

ANS: – RunC offers maximum control and flexibility for advanced users who want to manage container lifecycles directly. However, for most users, container management tools like Docker provide a more user-friendly experience.

3. What are the future trends for runC and OCI?

ANS: – Both projects are actively evolving, with a focus on improving security, performance, and integration with emerging technologies like cloud native platforms and serverless functions.

WRITTEN BY Swapnil Kumbar

Swapnil Kumbar is a Research Associate - DevOps. He knows various cloud platforms and has working experience on AWS, GCP, and azure. Enthusiast about leading technology in cloud and automation. He is also passionate about tailoring existing architecture.



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