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Build and run layered root filesystems.

Install / Uninstall

sudo sh -c "curl -Lf | sh"

# uninstall
sudo rm -rf /usr/local/bin/plash /usr/local/bin/plash-exec /opt/plash/


  • python3, bash, make and cc
  • Linux Kernel >= 4.18
  • unionfs-fuse, fuse-overlayfs or access to the kernel's builtin overlay filesystem
  • Optional newuidmap and newgidmap for setuid/setgid support with non-root users


plash --from alpine --apk xeyes -- xeyes


  • Plash processes have the same operating system access rights than the process that started it. There is no security relevant isolation feature. Exactly as with running programs "normally", don't run programs you do not trust with plash and try to avoid using plash with the root user.

  • Plash only runs inside Docker containers started with the --privileged flag, see GitHub issue #51 for details.

  • Nested plash instances are not possible with unionfs-fuse (#69). But fuse-overlayfs and overlay work fine.

Development Guidelines

  • Keep the script character.
  • Don't fall in love with the code, embrace its absence.
  • All dependencies will get unmaintained at some point.
  • Use honest thin wrappers, documented leaky abstractions are better then difficult promises.
  • Don't be a monolith but don't try too hard not to be one.
  • Don't complain or warn via stderr, do it or don't do it.
  • Only be as smart as necessary and keep it simple and stupid (KISS).
  • Still be able to run this in five years without any maintenance work.
  • No baggage, no worries.
  • Define well what this project is and especially what it is not.
  • Say no to features, say yes to solved use cases.
  • Postpone compromises.
  • Ditch everything that turns out too fiddly.
  • Be as vanilla as you can be
  • Be humble, don't oversell your abstraction layer.
  • Sometimes the dirty solution is cleaner than the proper one.
  • Don't differentiate root from non-root users (this is a TODO)
  • Crude is better than complex.
  • Only eat your own dog food if you are hungry.
  • Work towards a timeless, finished product that will require no maintenance.
  • Don't write C just because it looks cool, use the right tool for the right job.
  • The right guidelines for the right situation.

User Interface Guidelines

  • Interface follows code
  • Code supplements documentation
  • Documentation compensates a raw user interface
  • Put effort into documentation
  • If you want fun, go play outside
  • Focus on expert users and automated systems as CLI consumers
  • Don't make difficult things seem easy
  • Don't be too verbose, usually only information about success or failure matter
  • plash will be learned once but used multiple times
  • Avoid too many features slowly getting in
  • The UI is not a marketing instrument
  • Ugly wards testify emphasis on backward compatibility
  • Learning plash should be a valuable skill that lasts
  • Users don't know what they want
  • user errors are the user's fault
  • Rude is better than sorry
  • Technical descriptions do not get outdated, reasoning and interpretations do.


Can I contribute?

Please! Write me an mail, open an issue, do a pull request or ask me out for a friendly chat about plash in Berlin.

Who are you?

A Django/Python software-developer. Since this is an open source project I hope this software grows organically and collaboratively.

Why write a containerization software?

Technical idealism. I wanted a better technical solution for a problem. In my personal opinion Docker is revolutionary but has some shortcomings: awkward interface, reinvention of established software or interfaces, bundling, vendor lock in and overengineering. In a way it kills it's idea by trying too hard to build a huge company on top of it. Plash thrives not to be more than a useful tool with one task: Building and running containerized processes. Ultimately I wanted something I can if necessary maintain by myself.

Are there plans to commercialise this?

No, there isn't. At the same time I don't want to risk disappointing anyone and am not making any absolute guarantees.

What is the Licence?

plash is licensed under the MIT Licence.

How does the code look?

Some python3, some C. Very little code, very maintainable.

How does plash compare to Docker?

Docker is a bloated SUV you have to bring to the car workshop every week, for random alterations, features and new advertising stickers. Plash is a nice fixed gear bike, but the welds are still hot and nobody checked the bolts yet.

Can I run this in production?

You can. It probably still has some warts, what I can guarantee is to enthusiastically support this software and all issues that may come with it and focus on backward compatibility.

Is plash secure?

Plash does not use any daemons or have its own setuid helper binaries. Note that plash does not try to isolate containers (which are just normal processes). That means that running a program inside plash is not a security feature. Running any container software introduces more entities to trust, that is the root file system image with its additional linux distribution and its own package manager. Using a program from alpine edge could be considered less secure than a package from debian stable or vice versa. Also note that keeping containers updated is more difficult than keeping "normal" system software updated. Furthermore note that programs could be not used to run inside semi-isolated containers and behave oddly. Plash uses unmodified lxc images. Using plash as root should be avoided and should not be necessary for most use cases. Until now plash was written by one person and of course I could be wrong about something. But generally speaking it really should be good enough.


Build and run layered root filesystems.







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