This is my first article about Docker based on Feynman Technique. The following article explains Docker basics and summarizes each Docker component with example.

What is Docker?

Docker is a platform or container technology. Docker is an open source engine that automates deployment of any application. Docker consists of a client and server. Client to issue commands and server to do the job and docker daemon listens and execute those commands.

Docker Container Evolution

  • Chroot by UNIX (Filesytem isolation)
  • FreeBSD jail utility
  • Solaris offered containerization tech only limited to Solaris OS
  • Virtuozzo by Parallel INC open sourced in 2005
  • Google CGroups
  • Linux container in 2008
  • Docker finally 2013 all pieces brought together to form containerization to mainstream

Surrounding Technologies

  • Swarm
  • Compose
  • Machine
  • Kitmatic
  • Docker Trusted Registry
  • Networking
  • Service Delivery (To handle dynamic ip address of containers)
  • Orchestration and cluster management (Kubernetes, Mesos)

Docker Container Generation Workflow



Dockerfile a simple text file. Start with any base image, run one or more commands to create a new image. In the below dockerfile base image is ubuntu with version 15.04.

FROM ubuntu:15.04
ENV foo /bar
WORKDIR ${foo}   # WORKDIR /bar
ADD . $foo       # ADD . /bar
COPY \$foo /quux # COPY $foo /quux

Which contains simple below instructions


Dockerfile instructs on how to build image automatically. The dockerfile can be named anything. Best practice to name file ends with filename.dockerfile

Docker build images by reading Dockerfile instructions. $ docker build command is used to build image followed by the file path. Docker daemon validates the docker file and returns error.

$ docker build . #for current directory 
$ docker build -f /path/to/dockerfile #you can specify the path

Docker Hub

Docker hub is the github of docker files. Library of public images. You can host your images for free publicly.

Docker Image & Layer


Every instruction in dockerfile will create a layer of image. This layers act like cache, which increases reusability, decreases disk usage and help in speed up docker build. Docker image can also be generated using docker commit command by working on a container this usually used for debugging process.

Images are not containers. Images are like blue prints like class in oop. Images are group of files that are built upon the core OS. They are foundations to create and maintains official images.

When docker mounts the rootfs it starts with read-only, it takes advantage of union mount (aufs) to add read-write file system over read-only files system.

Docker images commands

  • docker image build Build an image from a Dockerfile
  • docker image import Import the contents from a tarball to create a filesystem image
  • docker image inspectDisplay detailed information on one or more images
  • docker image load Load an image from a tar archive or STDIN
  • docker image ls List images
  • docker image prune Remove unused images
  • docker image pull Pull an image or a repository from a registry
  • docker image push Push an image or a repository to a registry
  • docker image rm Remove one or more images
  • docker image save Save one or more images to a tar archive (streamed to STDOUT by default)
  • docker image tag Create a tag TARGET_IMAGE that refers to SOURCE_IMAGE

Docker Container


Think of a Docker container as another way of virtualization. Virtual Machine(VM) allows sharing of hardware between different VMs to run on isolation. Where as the containers share the OS, running isolated environments.

Containers are a way to package software to run in isolated environments. They are transportable pieces that can run anywhere Linux is running

Connecting containers to outside world

$ docker run -d -p 8000:80 -t nginx

Interactive with container

$ docker run -i -t nginx /bin/bash # bash (-i : interactive -t : tty)

Additional useful docker container commands

  • docker container Manage containers
  • docker exec Run a command in a running container
  • docker inspect Return low-level information on Docker objects
  • docker kill Kill one or more running containers
  • docker logs Fetch the logs of a container
  • docker ps List containers
  • docker pull Pull an image or a repository from a registry
  • docker rm Remove one or more containers
  • docker run Run a command in a new container
  • docker start Start one or more stopped containers
  • docker stop Stop one or more running containers

Docker Compose


A tool to defining and running complex applications with Docker. It is useful to compose more than one docker containers together. Compose is great for development, testing, and staging environments, as well as CI workflow.

A docker-compose.yml might look like below

version: '3.1'  # if no version is specificed then v1 is assumed. Recommend v2 minimum

services:  # containers. same as docker run
  servicename: # a friendly name. this is also DNS name inside network
    image: # Optional if you use build:
    command: # Optional, replace the default CMD specified by the image
    environment: # Optional, same as -e in docker run
    volumes: # Optional, same as -v in docker run

volumes: # Optional, same as docker volume create

networks: # Optional, same as docker network create

When you want to build a application, we need collection of services. In docker you can define each dockerfile or docker image as a service and spin up each container and link the services to communicate with each other.

Docker composer config options

build environment image
networks volumes ports

Additional useful docker compose commands

  • docker-compose build
  • docker-compose up
  • docker-compose down
  • docker-compose logs
  • docker-compose ps
  • docker-compose stop
  • docker-compose start
  • docker-compose rm

A sample docker compose example docker-lemp


Docker Docs

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to write here or on twitter @irfanbaigse.