Open Source Collaboration – Bringing Singularity & SIF to the OCI Ecosystem

Aug 11, 2022 | Blog

As a company born out of an open source project, and committed to open source development, we’re always excited when we have the opportunity to work with others, share ideas, and help bring support for Singularity images to other projects. Singularity, and the SIF container format, are used throughout the high performance computing (HPC) world and in other performance intensive compute workflows, due to their unique benefits. While we’re committed to developing Singularity and SIF to provide solutions that are optimized for these environments, we recognize the need to fit neatly into the broader Open Containers Initiative (OCI) ecosystem.

Our open roadmap for SingularityCE, and recent posts, detail our strategy for closing the gap between Singularity itself and OCI runtimes, in terms of user-facing compatibility. On the other side of the coin we’re proud to share that we have been working with and assisting OCI projects to support SIF. This is an area where we’re definitely looking forward to doing more in the future.

We’ve recently successfully collaborated with Anchore, to bring first class support for SIF to Syft, an open source tool to generate a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) for a container. Syft is rapidly being adopted as a key tool in processes to ensure supply chain security for containerized workflows. We’re proud that the open collaboration between Sylabs and Anchore means the benefits of easy SBOM generation and vulnerability scanning can now be realized by Singularity users. 

Elsewhere, we were very happy to assist Red Hat with efforts to add basic support for execution of SIF containers to podman. While not all features of SIF images are supported in podman, this is another important step in supporting users who work in mixed Singularity / OCI environments. 

Sylabs is also becoming more involved in community spaces, where the meeting of the worlds of HPC and OCI is actively discussed. Our presentations at the recent ISC HPC Containers Workshop, and renewed participation in the HPC Containers Advisory Council calls, are examples of this.

If you use or are involved in developing tooling that you wish could support Singularity containers, please reach out to us. We’d love to explore how we can make core open source code such as SIF closer fit the needs of others, and assist you if we are able.

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