Docker carves up a running linux system into small containers, each of its own sealed little world, with its own programs and its own everything. All isolated from anything else.

  • These containers are designed to be portable, so they can be shipped from one place to another, and Docker does the work of getting these containers to and from your systems.
  • Docker also builds these containers for you, and its a social platform to help you find and share containers with others who may have build similar work that you can build on top of.
  • Docker is not a virtual machine. There’s only single operating system running. That operating system is just carved up into isolated spaces.

What is a container?

  • A container is a self contained sealed unit of software.
  • Contains everything to run the code.
  • Includes batteries and the operating system
  • A container includes
    • Code
    • Configs
    • Processes
    • Networking enough to talk to other containers
    • Dependencies
    • OS(Just enough to run the code)

  • So the way it works, it takes all the services that make up a linux server : Networking, storage, code, interprocess communication, the whole works and it makes a copy in the Linux kernel for each container.

  • So each container has its own little world it can’t see out of and other can’t see in. You might have one container on a system running Red Hat Linux, serving a database, through a virtual network to another container running Ubuntu Linux running a web server that talks to the database, and that web server might also be talking to a caching server that runs in SUSE Linux based container.

  • The important part to understand is it doesn’t matter which linux each container is running on, it just has to be linux.

  • And docker is the program that manages all of this. Sets it up, monitors it, and tears it down when it’s no longer needed.

  • Docker is a client program, named Docker, it’s a command you type at the terminal.

  • It’s also a server program that listens for messages from that command, and manages a linux running system.

  • Docker has a program which builds container from code. It takes your code along with its dependencies and bundles it up and then seals it into a container.

  • And its a service that distributes these containers across the internet and makes it so you can find others work, and right people can find your work.

  • Its also a company that makes all of these.

Docker Flow : Images to Containers

  • In Docker it all begins with an image, An image is every file that makes up just enough of the operating system to do what you need to do.

  • Traditionally, you’d install a whole operating system with everything for each application you do. With docker you pair it way down so that you have a little container with just enough of the operating system to do what you need to do, and you can have lots and lots of these efficiently on a computer.

  • To list images

    docker images
    OUTPUT : 
    REPOSITORY    TAG       IMAGE ID       CREATED         SIZE
    ubuntu        latest    f643c72bc252   5 weeks ago     72.9MB
    hello-world   latest    bf756fb1ae65   12 months ago   13.3kB
    • REPOSITORY : Where the image came from TAG : Version number

      IMAGE ID : Internal docker representation of this image.

      In any docker command i can refer to the image as ubuntu:latest i.e REPOSITORY:TAG OR by its IMAGE ID

  • To run an image

    docker run -ti ubuntu:latest bash

    t stands for terminal, i stands for interactive. The above command will open a bash shell

    docker run command takes an image and turns it into a living container with a process

  • To exit an image type exit or ctrl + D

  • To check running images/containers

    docker ps 
    OUTPUT : 
    CONTAINER ID   IMAGE           COMMAND   CREATED          STATUS          PORTS     NAMES
    810fba31196d   ubuntu:latest   "bash"    40 seconds ago   Up 38 seconds             lucid_noyce
    • CONTAINER ID : Unique container id. Different from IMAGE ID. Cannot be interchanged

Here’s the difference between docker and virtual machines or running things on a real computer. When you’re inside a container you start from an image and it doesn’t change. When i make a container from the image, i don’t change the image.

So if i make some changes in a running container let’s just say create a file named a.txt and in a new parallel terminal window i run the image again(which will make a new container) than a.txt will not be in that container.

Even if i exit the container in which i created the file and run the image again in a new terminal window than the it will start fresh and a.txt will not be in that container because that will be a fresh new container.

Docker Flow : Containers to Images

So we went from an image to a running container. When we ran that container again, we got the same thing we got the first time. And that’s the whole point of images, it’s they are fixed points where you know everything’s good and you can always start from there.

  • Now when you’ve got a running container, you make changes to that container, you put files there, its very useful when you want to be able to actually save those.

  • The next step in docker flow is a stopped container. When the process exits, the container is still there. When we create a file and exit the container, it’s still there. We can go back and find it. It didn’t get deleted. It’s just that it’s currently in a stopped container.

  • To see all containers

    docker ps -a
  • To see last created container

    docker ps -l
  • Alright so let’s say we have a stopped container that has a file we want to use for the future. We have made our changes installed our software. The next step is docker commit command. That takes containers and makes images out of them.

    It doesn’t delete container, the container is still there. Now we have an image with the same content that was in that container. So docker run and docker commit are complimentary to each other. docker run takes images and to container and docker commit takes containers back to images. It doesn’t overwrite the image that the container was made from.

  • To commit : making image from a container

    docker commit CONTAINER ID

    It will return a sha and make an image. To give name to that image you can do

    docker sha image_name

    After this you can check by running docker images and you will find your image there

  • We can simplify the above process by doing this. It was just to demonstrate what is going on under the hood.


Running Processes in Containers

Now that we’ve got the Docker flow in mind let’s talk about running steps in docker because that’s what it’s all about.

  • docker run starts a container by giving an image name and a process to run in that container.

  • This is the main process to a container. When that process exits, the container’s done.

  • If you start other processes in a container later which we’ll cover, the container still exits when that main process finishes.

  • So Docker containers have one main process and they can have names. If you don’t give it a name it’ll make one up.

  • docker run --rm -ti ubuntu sleep 5

    --rm means when you want to run something in your container but don’t wanna keep the container afterwards . This says that delete the container when it exits.

  • docker run --rm -ti ubuntu bash -c "sleep 3; echo all done"

    Very often we want to start a container that says first run this. When it finishes, run the second thing. This pattern is extremely common for that. So in the above command container will first sleep for 3 seconds than will echo “all done”.

  • docker run -d -ti ubuntu bash
    OUTPUT : 

    Docker has this idea of detached containers. You can start a container running and just let it go. It’ll print an identifier by which you can attach to this identifier. You don’t have to use this identifier as you can use the docker ps command to see the name and attach the container.

  • docker attach CONTAINER_NAME

    It’ll attach you to the container which was running in background.

  • To detach from the container press Ctrl + p, Ctrl + q. It exits you out of the container by detaching from it.

  • So say if you want to run more processes in a container because until we were only using one process in a container. We can do this by using docker exec command.

  • So say in one terminal window you have your container running. Now open a new window and run

    docker exec -ti CONTAINER_NAME bash

    It’ll start the same container you have in your first terminal window assuming the container name is same. You can verify it by creating a file in one window and doing the ls in other window as you’ll see it there.

    If you exit from one window, the other window will also exit the container.

Manage Containers

  • Looking at a container output of something that’s already finished can be very frustrating. You start up a container, it didn’t work, you want to find out what went wrong.

  • docker logs command is the key for this. Docker keeps the output of the container available. It keeps it around as long as you keep the container around.

  • You can use docker logs CONTAINER_NAME to look at what the output was. For eg.

    docker run --name example -d ubuntu bash -c "llll"

    Suppose we accidentally executed a command which is wrong and it won’t work. Later when we see its not running we can check what went wrong by running

    docker logs example
    OUTPUT : 
    bash: llll: command not found

    You can view the logs of a container as many times you want as long as it is there.

  • Don’t let the output of your docker containers get really really huge. It’s very convenient, being able to go back and look at it. And if you’re writing tons and tons of data to the output of the process in your docker container, you can really bog down docker to the point where your whole system becomes unresponsive.

Stopping and Removing Containers

  • You can kill a running container. And when you’ve killed it, it goes to the stop state. And when you’re done with a container in the stopped state, you remove it.
  • docker kill CONTAINER_NAME makes it stop.
  • docker rm CONTAINER_NAME makes it gone.
  • Stopped containers still exist until you remove them.

Resource Constraints

  • One of the big features of docker is the ability to enforce on how many resources a container is going to use.

  • You can limit it to a fixed amount of memory.

    docker run --memory maximum-allowed-memory IMAGE_NAME command 
  • You can equally limit the CPU time

    docker run --cpu-shares relative to other containers

    You can limit relative, you can give this container half of the total CPU time, and other one the other half, so if one’s not busy, the other can use more CPU, but they’ll enforce it that they’ll have equal access.

    You can also give them hard limits

    docker run --cpu-quota to limit in general

    You can say this container only gets to use 10% of the CPU even if the other 90% is idle.

  • Most of the orchestration systems require you to state limits of a particular task or a container.

Exposing Ports

Docker offers a wide variety of options to connect containers together and connect containers to the internet.

  • For connecting them together, it offers private networks where you can put each container on a network and they can talk to each other, but still be isolated from the rest of the containers running on your computer.

  • For getting data into and out of the system as a whole, Docker offers the option of exposing a port or publishing a port. That makes the port accessible from outside the machine on which docker is being hosted.


    If we don’t mention the host machine port then docker will choose a random port. We can check the ports assigned of the container using

    docker port CONTAINER_NAME
  • If we want to mention the protocol such tcp or udp then we can do it like this


Container Networking

When we expose a container’s port in docker, it creates a path from essentially, the outside of that machine down through networking layers and into that container. That’s very well and other containers can connect to it by going out to the host, turning around, and coming back in along that path. It’s useful but there are more efficient ways to go about it.

Docker offers an extensive set of networking options to connect containers with each other.

To check existing networks, we see three networks by default

docker network ls

3ce38069cd9c   bridge    bridge    local
e08529dd4dd2   host      host      local
833eb8d13090   none      null      local
  • bridge is used by the containers that don’t specify a preference to be put into any other network.
  • host is when you want a container to not have any network isolation at all. This does have some security concerns.
  • none is for a container when it should have no networking.

To create a network

docker network create learning

Names are very useful when using private networks in Docker, because different containers inside the network can refer to each other by those names, so it makes it very easy for them to find each other.

To define network while creating container use --net option

docker run --rm -ti --net NETWORK_NAME --name CONTAINER_NAME ubuntu bash

To connect a container to a network after creation

docker network connect NETWORK_NAME CONTAINER_NAME


To list images

docker images

redis        latest    cc69ae189a1a   8 weeks ago    105MB
alpine       latest    e50c909a8df2   2 months ago   5.61MB
postgres     latest    4ea2949e4cb8   2 months ago   314MB
ubuntu       16.04     8185511cd5ad   3 months ago   132MB
ubuntu       latest    f63181f19b2f   3 months ago   72.9MB
ubuntu       18.04     c090eaba6b94   3 months ago   63.3MB
mysql        latest    c8562eaf9d81   3 months ago   546MB
ubuntu       14.04     df043b4f0cf1   7 months ago   197MB

As these images share a lot of underlying data, you don’t sum up the size of these images to get the total space docker is using. Docker is much more space efficient than it would look like

To tag images :

  • docker commit tags images for you

  • This is an example of name structure for naming the images

    We can leave out the parts we don’t need.

    Usually Organization/image-name is often enough

Getting images :

  • docker pull
  • Run automatically by docker run
  • Useful for offline work
  • Opposite : docker push

Cleaning Images :

  • Images can accumulate quickly

    docker rmi image-name:tag

    docker rmi image-id


Volumes are sort of like shared folders, they’re virtual discs that you can store data in and share them between the containers and between containers and the host, or both.

So there are two main varieties of volumes.

  • Persistent : You can put data there and it will be available on the host, and when container goes away, the data will still be there.
  • Ephemeral : These exist as long as container is using them, but when no container is using them, they evaporate. So they’re sort of ephemeral, they’ll stick around as long as they’re being used, but they’re not permanent.

These are not part of images, no part of volumes will be included when you download/upload an image. They’re for your local data, local to the host.

Sharing data with the host

Make a folder in your home directory named example and put some files in there. And run the given command

docker run --rm -ti -v ~/example:/shared-folder ubuntu:14.04 bash

When we’ll run the container the shared-folder in root directory will have those files and if we’ll create new files in shared-folder it’ll automatically reflect in example immediately and vice versa is also true. Both folders are in sync state and any change in one will be reflected in the other folder.

Sharing data between containers

First create a container and create a volume like this

docker run --rm -ti -v /shared-data --name rdb ubuntu:14.04 bash

Then create one more container and use that shared volume using --volumes-from param

docker run --rm -ti --volumes-from rdb --name rdb2 ubuntu:14.04 bash

Both the containers will have the directory named shared-data and any change in directory in one container will automatically be reflected in other container.

And as we exit all the containers, it’s gone.

Docker Files

Docker files are small programs designed to describe how to build a docker image.

You run these programs with

docker build -t name-of-result .
  • So each step produces a new image. It’s got a series of steps, start with one image, make a container out of it, run something in it, make a new image. The previous image is unchanged, it just starts from that, make a new one with some changes in it.

  • The state is not carried forward from line to line. If you start a program on one line, it only runs for the duration of that line.

  • So as a result if your build process is download a large file, do something with it, and delete it, if you do all that in one line, then resulting image will only have result of that.

  • If you download it in one line, it will get saved into an image. The next line will have that image saved there, and the space occupied by your big downloaded file will be carried all the way through and your docker file can get pretty big.

  • In Docker file, caching is done at each step. If we re run the file, it will only re run the steps changed and steps after that.

  • Processes you start on one line, will not be running on the next line. You run them, they run for the duration of that container, then that container gets shut down, saved into an image, and you have a fresh start on the next line.

  • Environment variables do persist across line if you use ENV command to set them.

  • Just remember that each line is its own call to docker run and then its own call to docker commit


  • ‚Äč Don’t let your containers fetch your dependencies when they start. If you’re using something like Node.js and you have your node starts up when the container starts it fetches it’s dependencies. Then, someday somebody’s gonna remove some library from node repos and suddenly everything stops working. Make your containers include dependencies inside them, saves a lot of pain.
  • Don’t leave important things in unnamed stopped containers.