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Finch 1.1.1: AWS Enhances Windows Compatibility for Open Source Container Development Tool

MMS Founder
MMS Aditya Kulkarni

Article originally posted on InfoQ. Visit InfoQ

AWS recently announced the general availability of Windows support for Finch, an open-source CLI tool. Finch enables developers to create, execute, and distribute Linux containers on both Windows and macOS. It streamlines container development by combining a minimalistic native client with select open-source components. With the new support, Windows developers who develop containers can now easily set up Finch and use it to create, run, and share containers using the same easy-to-use command line available to macOS users.

Justin Alvarez, Software Engineer, and Phil Estes, principal engineer at AWS talked about the new feature in a blog post. The team behind Finch was aiming to enable Windows support by developing and contributing a test version of a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2) driver to Lima, which is a key part of Finch’s infrastructure. Support for Windows has been a frequently requested feature for Lima, as requested through these pull requests.

Adding Windows support to Lima involved exploring alternatives beyond just a WSL2 driver. Initially, the contributors engaged with Lima’s maintainers to evaluate the pros and cons of utilizing HyperV, QEMU for Windows, or WSL2. A key advantage of opting for WSL2 is its compatibility with any recent Windows version. Despite reaching a consensus on using WSL2, integrating its driver into Lima presented some challenges due to the significant changes required and the differences from existing Lima drivers.

Over the past few months, the team at Finch dedicated their efforts to integrating Windows support into Finch. Now, Finch offers command-line developer tools across both macOS and Windows, enabling a uniform experience regardless of the operating system developers use. This first version featuring Windows support introduces a WSL2 Linux distribution called finch-lima, where Finch’s commands and features can be used. However, these functionalities are limited to the finch-lima distribution and are not available across other WSL2 distributions the user may have. There is a plan to extend the availability of Finch commands to all WSL2 distributions in a future update to Windows support. Windows installation packages can be downloaded from Finch version 1.1.1.

Towards the conclusion of 2023, when AWS revealed that Finch 1.0 was generally available, an intriguing conversation happened on Reddit about Finch’s competitors. A Reddit user mentioned in the conversation that a Docker Desktop alternative from a large company such as Amazon might become the favored option among developers.

To install Finch on Windows, ensure WSL2 is active on your computer. On the latest Windows 10 and 11 versions, you can enable it by executing wsl --install in the terminal. Once WSL2 is set up, navigate to the Finch “Releases” page on GitHub and download the MSI installer for the most recent Finch version. Execute the installer, then restart your terminal to ensure your PATH is updated after installation, and consider checking out the Getting Started guide.

Interested readers can join the CNCF Slack workspace’s #finch channel to engage with the Finch community for any feedback or ideas.

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