Peter von Oven – Founder & Chief Executive Officer

It does not seem long ago that I was writing about a new version of our container software, yet here I am, a few months down the road, writing about our latest release. So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to version 1.3 of the Droplet Container App (DCA), designed to build on the feature set of the previous version to help customers run their Windows applications on the platform of choice, and all regardless of being connected or not.

Throughout the lockdown period, the development team here at Droplet Computing has been hard at work adding new features to make the container app both more secure and more performant. So, let me start by talking about the new security feature – the enhanced container firewall.

Enhanced Container Firewall

Even though our container technology has been penetration tested by the NCC Group, and deemed as being secure, we felt we could do even more to help secure applications. The enhanced container firewall delivers just that. It adds additional protection by blocking all ports by default and then providing a simple UI that allows administrators to open specific ports depending on app requirements. The option is only available when the container is unlocked and in administration mode, where the firewall button will appear.

Such is the granularity of the configuration, you can configure the firewall feature to block or allow specific ports as exceptions to the blanket on or off, allow or block configuration. For example, if you have the default rule set to Block, which blocks all outbound traffic, you can then configure an independent rule that allows a specific port to be unblocked, while all other ports remain blocked.

Equally, you can set the default rule to be set to Allow, which allows all outbound traffic, and then configure a specific port to be blocked, while all other ports remain open.

What else is new in V1.3?

Container to host file sync

The other big news, in terms of features, is a brand-new file sync engine. The original idea behind the file sync feature was purely to allow end users to be able to copy their document files into the shared folder and so making them available on the host device when the container was powered off. However, as always, customers decided on their own use case for this feature, and that was using it to copy large installation files. This was not something it was originally designed to do, so to meet that customer demand and expectation, we redesigned the file sync engine from the ground up.

What has changed? First of all, there is now no limit on the size of file you can sync between the container and the host. Previously the limit was set to 250MB. Next, the sync process starts instantaneously rather than polling every 10 seconds or so, meaning the overall sync time is lower, which helps the overall performance.

On the subject of performance, we ran a couple of benchmark tests to give you an idea:

  • 256MB single file – 3 seconds
  • 5GB single file – 1 minute
  • 600MB made up of 60K files – 2 minutes

Another small, but useful feature, is an enhancement to our DirectLaunch feature for the Windows platforms. As a reminder, DirectLaunch allows you to automatically start the DCA, power on the container, and then launch a specific app from within the container.

The new feature added to the v1.3 release now allows you to just start the DCA and power on the container, presenting the end user with the Droplet Workspace. IT admins can now add this to the Windows Startup folder so that the container automatically starts when Windows starts thus making it quicker to launch apps for the end-user.

Along with the new enhanced container firewall, the new file sync feature, and the enhancement to DirectLaunch, version 1.3 also includes a number of the usual bug fixes and enhancements. I’ve highlighted these in the bullet points below:

  • New file sync engine, enabling syncing of larger files, with much lower syncing delay and lower memory usage
  • New – configurable firewall for administrators to enable them to open specific ports if required. By default, all ports are blocked
  • DirectLaunch now supports launching and starting the container without having to specify a particular app
  • Persist the screen resolution when set from container UI so that if you change the resolution of a running container app, that setting will be applied every time you launch that app
  • Move the shared directory to the home folder on Chrome OS, so that it can be accessed via Linux files in the file manager
  • Automatically fix the updater on DCI-M images which updated the container tools
  • Remove the hard-coded image folder, images can now be stored anywhere on the host device or network
  • Disable UI elements that cannot be changed while the container is running
  • Fix an issue with apps.json not exporting on some platforms
  • Disable file sync by default, profiles with existing settings.json are not affected
  • Remove unused network ports
  • Fix several issues related to keyboard handling (fix ctrl, alt, shift, and Windows keys being ‘stuck’ when switching between container and other apps on the host)
  • Added a build date in the About menu
  • Upgrade to the Droplet Container Engine with many bug fixes and security fixes, including an issue with Intel HAXM on certain hardware platforms

Version 1.3 of the Droplet Container App is generally available from today, July 9, 2020, and is available via our channel partners.

All things being well, I will be back in a few months to tell you all about the next exciting development of our container solutions.

In the meantime, please feel free to contact us, our partners, or visit the website at

https://www.dropletcomputing.com

For more technical details on delivering containerized applications, visit the documentation pages on our website at:

https://www.dropletcomputing.com/product-guides-documentation/