Docker is a tool used for container creation for software applications. We have all been aware of the existence of containers for some time, but Docker creates a standard for describing these packages. Docker is used for three things: Build, Ship & Run your software.


Creation of a predefined container in a standardized way using the Docker CLI. Use a dockerfile containing a list of commands. The FROM command specifies an OS and additional software packages, eg. FROM jboss/wildfly. All commands are compressed into one, customized image using the Docker CLI.


Share the container via DockerHub or your private repository.

Sharing = caring!


Docker runs on a minimal operating system and uses the Union File System. On the bottom level, there’s the Bootfs kernel, on which the chosen base image or OS runs and finally, the user images ontop of that. Hosts running Docker are very environment variables oriented, so by using variables in the commands or on the machine itself you configure your application. Any other communication is usually done over HTTP/REST. The Docker images are stored on the Docker host so the actual client is very thin. A Docker app runs on the Docker engine; this is in contrast with regular VMs, running on full-blown operating systems.

Docker Machine

Docker Machine allows you to get started with Docker on Mac or Windows. It features the docker-machine CLI and uses the boot2docker image (32Mb small) under the hood.

Docker Machine is preferred over boot2docker for development purposes, but it is not production-ready (yet!)

Easy way to set up a Docker host with docker-machine: docker-machine create --driver=virtualbox myhost

Listing all the installed Docker images: docker-machine ls

Listing all the environment variables of a newly created Docker container: docker-machine env myhost

Docker Machine is also used to start, stop or restart containers. It even allows to update Docker itself. Many existing plugins provide support for various cloud platforms.


An earlier version of docker-machine. As said above, it is being used by docker-machine under the hood.

My advice: migrate to docker-machine, at least for development purposes.

Docker Toolbox

Easily the best tool to get started with Docker.

Hands-on Docker

  • docker helpfor all your docker needs!
  • docker psto check the running containers
  • docker imagesto check your images
  • docker buildfor quick build
  • docker run -it ubuntu sh for quick running an image in a shell

Docker images are like diapers: if they get shitty, throw’em away and take a fresh one.

Docker Compose

Allows you to define and run multi-container applications. It has all the commands the regular Docker has and more. It provides a new way to link containers.

Configuration is defined in one or more docker-compose.yml (default) or docker-compose.override.yml (default) files. It is a great tool for setting up Development, Staging and Continuous Integration (CI) environments.

Docker container linking is so passé

A problem with container linking was that there was no possible way to work with different hosts. Docker Compose solves this by using volume mapping. It can help with running multi-host environments:

  • Bridge network span single host
  • Overlay network spans multiple hosts

Software defined networking is possible and preferred! Docker Compose solves this problem but it should still be used cautiously in production!

Starting a set of Docker images using Docker Compose is easy: docker-compose up -f docker-compose.yml -f production.yml -d

Docker Swarm

Docker Swarm provides native clustering for Docker, fully integrated with Machine & Compose. It either uses Etcd, Consul, Zookeeper or other solutions to store the cluster ID. Whenever you create a Docker Machine, you can add it to the cluster. It also serves the standard Docker API so anything that works on Docker, will work on multi-host environments.

They say the new Docker Swarm v1.0.0 release is production ready: I still have my doubts!


Questions or Remarks

  • Contact @arungupta or @Turbots on Twitter
  • Create an issue or start a discussion on the Github repository (or on Gitter)

Dieter is a Principal Java Consultant at Ordina, passionate about all Java- and JavaScript related technologies. Aside from his day-to-day occupation as a consultant, he helps fellow developers as a Competence Leader for the Cloud & PaaS Competence Center by giving workshops, talks and courses about the newest technologies. In his spare time, Dieter enjoys playing soccer, running, (online) gaming and fiddling around with all kinds of fancy new software.