Building a base image starts with choosing a Linux distribution image. There are quite a few options:
- gliderlabs/alpine is by far the smallest and minimalist. Google search: 499,000 results.
- debian is used by the Docker Ruby and Rails community, which it will require the least maintenance. Google search: 32,900,000 results.
- ubuntu is used by the Docker populous at large, which means a large community. Google search: 65,400,000 results.
REPOSITORY TAG VIRTUAL SIZE gliderlabs/alpine latest 5.03 MB debian latest 84.98 MB ubuntu latest 188.3 MB centos latest 210 MB
Our team looked at a number of factors before choosing debian as our base. As ruby is our primary development language, we wanted to base our images on a distro that had strong community support. Debian also provides tooling that our dev ops team is familiar with.
There have been a few shops that are using alpine in production: https://blog.codeship.com/build-minimal-docker-container-ruby-apps/
While alpine isn't something we'll be using, it may be worth revisiting in the future as adoption picks up.
UPDATE: (03/24/2016) Docker just announced that they build their new engine on Alpine Linux. There looks to be some momentum building for Alpine.