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BCI-Base, BCI-Minimal, BCI-Micro, and BCI-BusyBox

Publication Date: 05/24/2022

1 Environment

This document applies to the following products and product versions:

  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP4

2 Decision card


An overview of differences between BCI-Base, BCI-Minimal, BCI-Micro, and BCI-BusyBox.


Because you'd want to use the right SLE Base Container Image for the project at hand.




It only takes 10 minutes of reading time.


Understand the differences and pick the right SLE Base Container Image for your projects.

3 Introduction

SUSE offers several general-purpose SLE Base Container Images that are intended as deployment targets or as foundations for creating customized images: BCI-Base, BCI-Minimal, BCI-Micro, and BCI-BusyBox. These images share the common SLES base, and none of them ship with a specific language or an application stack. All images feature the RPM database (even if the specific image does not include the RPM package manager) that can be used to verify the provenance of every file in the image. Each image includes the SLES certificate bundle, which allows the deployed applications to use the system's certificates to verify TLS connections.

4 Quick overview

The table below provides a quick overview of the differences between BCI-Base, BCI-Minimal, BCI-Micro, and BCI-BusyBox.

5 BCI-Base and BCI-Init: When you need flexibility

This SLE Base Container Image comes with the Zypper package manager and a free SLE-BCI repository. This allows you to install software available in the repository and customize the image during the build. The downside is the size of the image. It is the largest of the general-purpose SLE Base Container Images, so it is not always the best choice for a deployment image.

A variant of BCI-Base called BCI-Init comes with systemd preinstalled. The BCI-Init container image can be useful in scenarios requiring systemd for managing services in a single container.

6 BCI-Minimal: When you do not need Zypper

This is a stripped-down version of the BCI-Base image. BCI-Minimal comes without Zypper, but it does have the RPM package manager installed. This significantly reduces the size of the image. However, while RPM can install and remove packages, it lacks support for repositories and automated dependency resolution. The BCI-Minimal image is therefore intended for creating deployment containers, and then installing the desired RPM packages inside the containers. Although you can install the required dependencies, you need to download and resolve them manually. However, this approach is not recommended as it is prone to errors.

7 BCI-Micro: When you need to deploy static binaries

This image is similar to BCI-Minimal but without the RPM package manager. The primary use case for the image is deploying static binaries produced externally or during multi-stage builds. As there is no straightforward way to install additional dependencies inside the container image, we recommend deploying a project using the BCI-Minimal image only when the final build artifact bundles all dependencies and has no external runtime requirements (like Python or Ruby).

8 BCI-BusyBox: When you need the smallest and GPLv3-free image

Similar to BCI-Micro, the BCI-BusyBox image comes with the most basic tools only. However, these tools are provided by the BusyBox project. This has the benefit of further size reduction. Furthermore, the image contains no GPLv3 licensed software. When using the image, keep in mind that there are certain differences between the BusyBox tools and the GNU Coreutils. So scripts written for a system that uses GNU Coreutils may require modification to work with BusyBox.

9 Approximate sizes

For your reference, the list below provides an approximate size of each SLE Base Container Image. Keep in mind that the provided numbers are rough estimations.

  • BCI-Base ~94 MB

  • BCI-Minimal ~42 MB

  • BCI-Micro ~26 MB

  • BCI-BusyBox ~14 MB