How To Use Docker

How To Use Docker

“With Docker, developers can build any app in any language using any toolchain. “Dockerized” apps are completely portable and can run anywhere – colleagues’ OS X and Windows laptops, QA servers running Ubuntu in the cloud, and production data center VMs running Red Hat.

Developers can get going quickly by starting with one of the 13,000+ apps available on Docker Hub. Docker manages and tracks changes and dependencies, making it easier for sysadmins to understand how the apps that developers build work. And with Docker Hub, developers can automate their build pipeline and share artifacts with collaborators through public or private repositories.

Docker helps developers build and ship higher-quality applications, faster.” — What is Docker


I use Oh My Zsh with the Docker plugin for autocompletion of docker commands. YMMV


Once you have docker installed, its intuitive usage experience makes it very easy to work with. By now, you shall have the docker daemon running in the background.

If not, use the following command to run the docker daemon.

To run the docker daemon:

Usage Syntax:

Using docker (via CLI) consists of passing it a chain of options and commands followed by arguments. Please note that docker needs sudo privileges in order to work.

Note: Below instructions and explanations are provided to be used as a guide and to give you an overall idea of using and working with docker. The best way to get familiar with it is practice on a new VPS. Do not be afraid of breaking anything– in fact, do break things! With docker, you can save your progress and continue from there very easily.


Let’s begin with seeing all available commands docker have.

Ask docker for a list of all available commands:

All currently (as of 0.7.1) available commands:

Check out system-wide information and docker version:

Working with Images

As we have discussed at length, the key to start working with any docker container is using images. There are many freely available images shared across docker image index and the CLI allows simple access to query the image repository and to download new ones.

When you are ready, you can also share your image there as well. See the section on “push” further down for details.

Searching for a docker image:*

This will provide you a very long list of all available images matching the query: Ubuntu.

Downloading (PULLing) an image:

Either when you are building / creating a container or before you do, you will need to have an image present at the host machine where the containers will exist. In order to download images (perhaps following “search”) you can execute pull to get one.

Listing images:

All the images on your system, including the ones you have created by committing (see below for details), can be listed using “images”. This provides a full list of all available ones.

Committing changes to an image:

As you work with a container and continue to perform actions on it (e.g. download and install software, configure files etc.), to have it keep its state, you need to “commit”. Committing makes sure that everything continues from where they left next time you use one (i.e. an image).

Sharing (PUSHing) images:

Although it is a bit early at this moment – in our article, when you have created your own container which you would like to share with the rest of the world, you can use push to have your image listed in the index where everybody can download and use.

Please remember to “commit” all your changes.

Note: You need to sign-up at to push images to docker index.

Working with Containers

When you “run” any process using an image, in return, you will have a container. When the process is notactively running, this container will be a non-running container. Nonetheless, all of them will reside on your system until you remove them via rm command.

Listing all current containers:

By default, you can use the following to list all running containers:

To have a list of both running and non-running ones, use:

Creating a New Container

It is currently not possible to create a container without running anything (i.e. commands). To create a new container, you need to use a base image and specify a command to run.

This will output “hello” and you will be right back where you were. (i.e. your host’s shell)

As you can not change the command you run after having created a container (hence specifying one during “creation”), it is common practice to use process managers and even custom launch scripts to be able to execute different commands.

Running a container:

When you create a container and it stops (either due to its process ending or you stopping it explicitly), you can use “run” to get the container working again with the same command used to create it.

Remember how to find the containers? See above section for listing them.

Stopping a container:

To stop a container’s process from running:

Saving (committing) a container:

If you would like to save the progress and changes you made with a container, you can use “commit” as explained above to save it as an image.

This command turns your container to an image.

Remember that with docker, commits are cheap. Do not hesitate to use them to create images to save your progress with a
container or to roll back when you need (e.g. like snapshots in time).

Removing / Deleting a container:

Using the ID of a container, you can delete one with rm.

You can learn more about Docker by reading their official documentation

Remember: Things are progressing very fast at docker. The momentum powered by the community is amazing and many large companies try to join in offering support. However, the product is still not labeled as production ready, hence not recommended to be 100% trusted with mission critical deployments – yet. Be sure to check releases as they come out and continue keeping on top of all things docker.