Kubernetes and LXC. What are the differences?

Kubernetes & LXC

Kubernetes and LXC (Linux Containers) are virtualization technologies used for the containerization of Linux-based server infrastructures. Find out what are the differences between them. This will help you to choose the one that works better for your infrastructure.

Container Orchestration

Kubernetes can be considered a “native container orchestration” software platform. It offers a number of features for managing and scaling containerized applications such as automated scaling, rolling updates, load balancing, and self-healing. It has a rich ecosystem of extensions and integrations.

LXC (Linux Containers) is containerization platform that provides OS-level virtualization through the Linux kernel. However, it doesn’t feature built-in container orchestration capabilities like Kubernetes.

Containerization Model

Kubernetes uses a containerization model based on container images. They are portable, self-sufficient, and encapsulated packages that contain all the necessary components for running an application, including the runtime, libraries, and dependencies. Kubernetes uses container images to deploy and manage containers across a cluster of virtual or physical servers.

LXC uses a system-level virtualization model, where containers are created as lightweight virtual private servers (VPS) with their own file systems, processes, and network stacks. This provides better isolation compared to process-level containerization used by Kubernetes.

Abstraction Level

Kubernetes provides a higher level of abstraction compared to LXC. Kubernetes abstracts the underlying infrastructure and provides a declarative way to define the desired state of a containerized application using YAML manifests. It then uses its API to reconcile the actual state with the desired state, providing automation and management capabilities at a higher level of abstraction.

In the LXC virtualization approach the containers are managed as lightweight virtual servers with their own file systems and processes, and are configured using system-level tools and commands.

Scalability and Cluster Management

Kubernetes is designed to manage and scale containerized applications across a cluster of virtual or physical servers. It provides features for managing nodes, networking, storage, and other resources in a distributed system. Among the important Kubernetes features are auto-scaling, rolling updates, and load balancing. These features make it suitable for large-scale deployments.

LXC technology’s focus is on creating and managing individual virtual environments (containers) on a single physical server. It doesn’t provide built-in features for cluster management or scalability.


Kubernetes is designed to work with various container runtimes, including Docker, Containerd, and Cri-o. It provides flexibility in choosing the underlying container runtime and allows for interoperability and portability across different container runtimes.

LXC is a server containerization technology that is tightly integrated with the Linux kernel. LXC does not feature the same level of flexibility in choosing different container runtimes.

Community and Ecosystem

Kubernetes has a large community of developers that create various useful extensions, tools, and integrations. As of 2023, it is a de facto standard for container orchestration. For this reason, many cloud hosting providers offer Kubernetes-based infrastructure solutions.

LXC has a smaller community and ecosystem than Kubernetes. Still, the technology is widely used in various IT hosting scenarios based on system-level server virtualization.

To summarize. If you need to create a dedicated IT infrastructure for hosting traditional apps, LXC is the better choice. If you need any of the so-called cloud-native apps, then you’d better use Kubernetes.

About the Author

Dimitar A.
Dimitar is founder of the global Cloud & Infrastructure Hosting provider HostColor.com & European Cloud IaaS company RAX. He has two Decades-long experience in the web hosting industry and in building and managing Cloud computing infrastructure and IT ecosystems. Dimitar is also political scientist who has published books "The New American State" and "The New Polity". "The New American State" is one of the best current political books. It is focused on the change of the American political process. It offers a perspective on how the fourth industrial revolution, also called the Digital Revolution and Industry 4.0, marks the beginning of an era of deterritorialization.