Chainguard Images FAQs

Chainguard ImagesFAQProduct

Which Linux distribution is used as base for Chainguard Images?

Chainguard images are based on Wolfi, a Linux undistro we built specifically to address software supply chain security issues. We do have some images with Alpine-based variants in order to support musl or unusual architectures.

How do Chainguard Images relate to the Google Distroless Images?

The Google distroless images follow a similar philosophy to many of our images: they are minimal images that don’t include package managers or shells. The main difference is in the implementation. The Google distroless images are built with Bazel and based on the Debian distribution, whereas Chainguard Images are built with apko based on the Wolfi or Alpine distributions. We believe our approach is more maintainable and extensible.

What is an “undistro”?

We call Wolfi an undistro because unlike a typical Linux distribution, Wolfi is a stripped-down distribution designed for the cloud-native era. Most notably, we don’t include a Linux kernel, instead relying on the environment (such as the container runtime) to provide this.

Which images are available?

You can check which images are already available at our Images Catalog, through the Chainguardy Registry, or in our GitHub Repository.

What is an SBOM and why is it important?

An SBOM is a Software Bill of Materials, which is a list containing detailed information about all software that is included within a software artifact, whether it’s an application, a container image, or a physical appliance.

SBOMs provide visibility into the software you depend on. They can allow automated systems to quickly identify issues such as unpatched vulnerabilities, since SBOMs typically include the version of each dependency listed.

Who maintains Chainguard Images?

Chainguard Images are officially maintained by Chainguard employees, but they are also open source, which means any community member is welcome to suggest improvements.

Can I simply replace my current base image with a Chainguard Image and it will work out of the box?

Chainguard Images are designed to be minimalist, and many of them are distroless, which means they don’t come with a package manager. Depending on your stack and specific dependencies, you may need to include additional software by combining development images and distroless images in a multi-stage Docker build.

How often are Chainguard Images updated?

Chainguard Images are rebuilt every night to ensure that new package versions and security updates in upstream Wolfi are quickly applied.