A Brief Encounter With Docker

Docker, an application-container distribution automation software using Linux-based virtualization, has gained a lot of momentum since it was released in 2013. I never had a chance to try it out but a current project has prompted me to bubble it up my ever-growing To-Do list. Below is a re-cap of my first two hours of experimenting with Docker.

First thing first, get a quick grasp of Docker’s basics. I was going to test it on a MacBook and decided to go for its beta version of Docker for Mac. It’s essentially a native app version of Docker Toolbox with a little trade-off of being limited to a single VM, which can be overcome if one uses it along side with Docker ToolBox. The key differences between the two apps are nicely illustrated at Docker’s website.

Downloading and installing Docker for Mac was straight forward. Below is some configuration info about the installed software:

Next, it’s almost illegal not to run something by the name of hello-world when installing a new software. While at it, test run a couple of less trivial apps to get a feel of running Docker-based apps, including an Nginx and a Ubuntu Bash shell.

While running hello-world or Ubuntu shell is a one-time deal (e.g. the Ubuntu shell once exit is gone), the -d (for detach) run command option for Nginx would leave the server running in the background. To identify all actively running Docker containers and stop them, below is one quick way:

It’s also almost illegal to let any hello-world apps sitting around forever, so it’s a perfect candidate for testing image removal. You’ll have to remove all associated containers before removing the image. Here’s one option:

Note that the above method only remove those containers with description matching the image name. In case an associated container lacking the matching name, you’ll need to remove it manually (docker rm ).

Adapted from Linux’s Cowsay game, Docker provides a Whalesay game and illustrates how to combine it with another Linux game Fortune to create a custom image. This requires composing the DockerFile with proper instructions to create the image as shown below:

Next, to manage your Docker images in the cloud, sign up for an account at Docker Hub. Similar to GitHub, Docker Hub allows you to maintain public image repos for free. To push Docker images to your Docker Hub account, you’ll need to name your images with namespace matching your user account’s. The easiest way would be to have the prefix of your image name match your account name.

For instance, to push the fortune-whalesay image to Docker Hub with account name leocc, rename it to leocc/fortune-whalesay:

Finally, it’s time to try actually dockerize an app of my own and push it to Docker Hub. A Java app of a simple NIO-based Reactor server is being used here:

The Dockerized Java app is now at Docker Hub. Now that it’s in the cloud, you may remove the the local image and associated containers as described earlier. When you want to download and run it later, simply issue the docker run command.

My brief experience of exploring Docker’s basics has been positive. If you’re familiar with Linux and GitHub, picking up the commands for various tasks in Docker comes natural. As to the native Docker for Mac app, even though it’s still in beta it executes every command reliably as advertised.

One thought on “A Brief Encounter With Docker

  1. Pingback: Self-contained Node.js Deployment | Genuine Blog

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