Understanding Image Names
Container-Optimized OS is available on three different release channels which are explained below. Since channel names are included in the image names, it’s important to understand Container-Optimized OS names before discussing the channels and release schedule.
A Container-Optimized OS name has the following format:
CHANNEL is the channel name that the image was released on,
RELEASE_MILESTONE is a numeric string, and
RELEASE_VERSION is a string
containing numbers, letters and delimiters such as '-'. A release milestone is
analogous to a major software version, whereas a release version is analogous to
a minor version. For example, the image name
cos-dev-52-8300-0-0 implies the
image is available on the
dev channel at release milestone
52 and release
cos node image uses three release channels for delivering releases
devchannel has all the latest changes the
cosnode image team is working on and is updated frequently.
betachannel is a qualified image in Beta. Images on the
betachannel are updated less frequently than images on the
stablechannel offers a longer tested and supported release with only rare and critical updates (if needed).
The rule of thumb for choosing a release channel is:
- For testing and prototyping, select the latest image from the
- For production deployments, select an image from the
Refer to the Support Policy for the release duration and cadence for each channel.
How do I choose which channel to use?
You choose which release channel an instance runs when creating the instance. It is not possible to change which channel an instance uses after creation.
It is strongly recommended that users set up tiered testing along with
their production environment to utilize the release channels. For
example, a light-weight “nightly” test environment can pick up
the latest releases on the
dev channel to test new features as well
as to catch any potential breakage as early as possible, and a more
involved “staging” or “canary” test environment that mimics
the production environment can pick up latest releases on the
channel. This kind of setup will minimize surprises when switching the
production environment to a newer version on the
Release and Deprecation Schedule
On all of the channels, a major version update is released once every
six weeks. On each of the
beta channels, a minor version
update is released typically once per week. On the
minor version updates are rare and infrequent.
Images on Google Compute Engine have a notion of "deprecation status". A
new image on a channel is always created in ACTIVE state, and older
images on that channel are marked as DEPRECATED. On each of the
beta channels, there is usually one ACTIVE image, which is the
latest released version on that channel. On the
stable channel, there
may be more than one ACTIVE major versions.
Container-Optimized OS uses an active-passive root partition scheme. The OS image is updated in its entirety, including the kernel, as opposed to package-by-package updates on traditional Linux operating systems. The image ships with the auto-update feature enabled, which means that an instance running a version of Container-Optimized OS on a channel downloads a newer version on the same channel and installs it on the passive partition soon after it's released. Note that the update does not take effect until the instance is rebooted, and the auto-updater does not force reboot when an update is installed. After an updated version has been installed, the instance must be rebooted before it can update to a newer version.
Users can check the status of auto-update using the following command on a running instance:
sudo update_engine_client --status
Users can trigger an auto-update using the following command on a running instance:
sudo update_engine_client --update
Disable auto-updates by setting the
cos-update-strategy metadata when
creating a new instance:
gcloud compute instances create ... --metadata cos-update-strategy=update_disabled
add-metadata on an existing instance:
gcloud compute instances add-metadata ... --metadata cos-update-strategy=update_disabled