Kinvolk, the Flatcar Container Linux developer is Microsoft’s latest acquisition since ZeniMax Media

Work on improving the OS continues but under Microsoft Azure’s auspices.


Microsoft on April 29, 2021, announced the acquisition of the company developing Flatcar Container Linux, Kinvolk GmbH. The Linux distribution is officially under Azure’s ranks further stamping Microsoft’s dominion in the open source community.

Microsoft Azure users can now scale and manage clusters easily for the first time
Microsoft Azure users can now scale and manage clusters easily for the first time
Key Facts
  1. 1

    Azure cluster scaling and management have been made easier for the first time.

  2. 2

    Kinvolk stands to improve Azure Arc.

  3. 3

    Flatcar Container Linux already has a significant number of users on Microsoft Azure, including other cloud services.


After repelling the open source horizon for almost 20 years, Microsoft has been making strides and catching up with the big guns. This is no surprise considering the volume of resources, financial and innovation the organization has access to. However, Microsoft is now very familiar with the open source environment these days. Azure’s workloads are dominated by Linux-based projects, over half of it. Microsoft even proceeded with its very own Linux distribution called CBL-Mariner, a light scale Linux distribution that remains in Microsoft running its first-party Azure Services and edge appliances.

Kinvolk GmbH, the developer and distributor of the Flatcar Container Linux, is the latest statement the Tech Giant has made in building a domineering name in the open source landscape. Its cloud computing portfolio, Microsoft Azure, has always been looking to enrich users with the ability to run and deploy Kubernetes anywhere, be it on-premises or in the cloud. Open source developers are now brewing focus on the benefits of container optimization and operating systems, easier operations, platform resilience, and application modernization. Microsoft is answering with the acquisition of Kinvolk GmbH.

First launched in preview-only during 2017, Azure Kubernetes service is Microsoft’s way of equipping cloud customers with automatic upgrades, self-healing proficiency, and a hosted control plane. Microsoft Azure users can now scale and manage clusters easily for the first time.

The new acquisition is no stranger to the cloud native distributed computing community history books. It has acquired ample experience over the years across Kubernetes, eBPF, container optimization in Linux, community development, and early collaboration with the rkt container runtime and CoreOS Container Linux developer, CoreOS, before deciding to develop a widely embraced alternative in Flatcar Container Linux.

Microsoft intends to induct the retained Kinvolk team into the engineering team in charge of the development of Microsoft’s hybrid cloud environments management service, Microsoft Arc, where they will be key contributors increasing Microsoft’s open source activity in the Kubernetes and container landscape, according to Michael Burns, Corporate Vice President of Azure Compute.

Though it goes without saying, Microsoft acquired the rights to access Kinvolk’s team's wealth of knowledge, which they intend to maintain and build with their abundant resources. The kinvolk’s team's existing projects pre-acquisition will not hit any obstruction either but will continue to be built as part of Microsoft Azure’s property. This collaboration is pivotal in attracting a larger audience in the open source community to Microsoft Azure.

Kinvolk’s origins date back to Berlin, 2015, where it was founded. It proceeded to launch Flatcar Container Linux in 2018.

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