Most of us working in the software industry must be familiar with the term Docker, especially developers and administrators. Docker has become a standard in the IT industry when it comes to packaging, deploying, and running distributed applications with ease. Today, we will be learning about Docker end-to-end.

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Docker Tutorial for Beginners

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The aim of this Docker tutorial is to learn about Docker basics. Additionally, we will dive into more concepts such as virtualization, containerization, the need for Docker, Docker architecture, Docker installation, Docker images, and so on.

Here is the list of topics included in this best Docker tutorial:

Let’s learn Docker from scratch!

What is Docker?

Docker is a platform used to containerize our software, using which we can easily build our applications and package them, with the dependencies required, into containers, and further these containers are easily shipped to run on other machines.

Docker TutorialDocker simplifies the DevOps Methodology by allowing developers to create templates called ‘images’ using which we can create lightweight virtual machines called ‘containers.’ Docker makes things easier for software developers giving them the capability to automate infrastructure, isolate applications, maintain consistency, and improve resource utilization.

There might arise a question that such tasks can also be done through virtualization, then why choose Docker over it. It might be because virtualization does not turn out to be that efficient an idea.

Why? We shall discuss this as we move along in this Docker tutorial.

To begin with, let’s understand ‘What is Virtualization?’

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What is Virtualization?

dockerVirtualization refers to importing a guest operating system on our host operating system, allowing developers to run multiple OS on different VMs while all of them run on the same host, thereby eliminating the need to provide extra hardware resources.
These virtual machines are being used in the industry in many ways as follows:

  • Enabling multiple operating systems on the same machine
  • Cheaper than the previous methods due to less/compact infrastructure setup
  • Easy to recover and do maintenance if there’s any failure state
  • Faster provisioning of applications and resources required for tasks
  • Increase in IT productivity, efficiency, and responsiveness

Let’s check out the working of VMs with the architecture and also understand the issues faced by them.

What is Virtualization host

What is a Virtualization Host?

From the above VM architecture, it is easy to figure out that the three guest operating systems acting as virtual machines are running on a host operating system. In virtualization, the process of manually reconfiguring hardware and firmware and installing a new OS can be entirely automated; all these steps get stored as data in any files of a disk.

Virtualization lets us run our applications on fewer physical servers. In virtualization, each application and operating system live in a separate software container called VM. Where VMs are completely isolated, all the computing resources like CPUs, storage, and networking are pooled together, and they are delivered dynamically to each VM by a software called a hypervisor.

However, running multiple VMs over the same host leads to degradation in performance. As guest operating systems have their own kernel, libraries, and many dependencies running on a single host OS, it takes up large occupation of resources such as the processor, hard disk and, especially, its RAM.

Also, when we use VMs in virtualization, the bootup process takes a long time that would affect efficiency in the case of real-time applications. In order to overcome such limitations, containerization was introduced.

How did containerization overcome these issues? Let’s discuss this further in this basic Docker tutorial.

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In the next section of this step-by-step Docker tutorial, let’s understand what exactly containerization is.

What is Containerization?

Containerization is a technique where virtualization is being brought containerization to an operating system level. In containerization, we virtualize the operating system resources. It is more efficient as there is no guest operating system consuming the host resources; instead, containers utilize only the host operating system and share relevant libraries and resources only when they are required. The required binaries and libraries of containers run on the host kernel leading to faster processing and execution.

In a nutshell, containerization (containers) is a lightweight virtualization technology acting as an alternative to hypervisor virtualization. Bundle any application in a container and run it without thinking of dependencies, libraries, and binaries!

Now, if we look into its advantages:

  • Containers are small and lightweight as they share the same OS kernel.
  • They do not take much time to boot-up (only seconds).
  • They exhibit high performance with lower resource utilization.

Now, let’s understand the difference between containerization and virtualization in this Docker container tutorial.

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Containerization vs Virtualization

Containerization Virtualization
As we have been introduced to containerization and virtualization, we know that both let us run multiple operating systems on a host machine.

Now, what are the differences between them? Let’s check out the below table to understand the differences.

Virtualization Containerization
Virtualizes hardware resources Virtualizes only OS resources
Requires the complete OS installation for every VM Installs the container only on a host OS
A kernel is installed for every virtualized OS Uses only the kernel of the underlying host OS
Heavyweight Lightweight
Limited performance Native performance
Fully isolated Process-level isolation

In the case of containerization, all containers share the same host operating system. Multiple containers get created for every type of application making them faster but without wasting the resources, unlike virtualization where a kernel is required for every OS and lots of resources from the host OS are utilized.

We can easily figure out the difference from the architecture of containers given below:

ContainerIn order to create and run containers on our host OS, we require software that enables us to do so. This is where Docker comes into the picture!

Now, in this Docker tutorial, let’s understand the Docker architecture.

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Docker Architecture

Docker uses a client-server architecture. The Docker client consists of Docker build, Docker pull, and Docker run. The client approaches the Docker daemon that further helps in building, running, and distributing Docker containers. Docker client and Docker daemon can be operated on the same system; otherwise, we can connect the Docker client to the remote Docker daemon. Both communicate with each other using the REST API, over UNIX sockets or a network.

Docker ArchitectureThe basic architecture in Docker consists of three parts:

  • Docker Client
  • Docker Host
  • Docker Registry

Docker Client

  • It is the primary way for many Docker users to interact with Docker.
  • It uses command-line utility or other tools that use Docker API to communicate with the Docker daemon.
  • A Docker client can communicate with more than one Docker daemon.

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Docker Host

In Docker host, we have Docker daemon and Docker objects such as containers and images. First, let’s understand the objects on the Docker host, then we will proceed toward the functioning of the Docker daemon.

  • Docker Objects:
    • What is a Docker image? A Docker image is a type of recipe/template that can be used for creating Docker containers. It includes steps for creating the necessary software.
    • What is a Docker container? A type of virtual machine created from the instructions found within the Docker image. It is a running instance of a Docker image that consists of the entire package required to run an application.
  • Docker Daemon:
    • Docker daemon helps in listening requests for the Docker API and in managing Docker objects such as images, containers, volumes, etc. Daemon issues to build an image based on a user’s input and then saves it in the registry.
    • In case we don’t want to create an image, then we can simply pull an image from the Docker hub (which might be built by some other user). In case we want to create a running instance of our Docker image, then we need to issue a run command that would create a Docker container.
    • A Docker daemon can communicate with other daemons to manage Docker services.

Docker Registry

  • Docker registry is a repository for Docker images which is used for creating Docker containers.
  • We can use a local/private registry or the Docker hub, which is the most popular social example of a Docker repository.

Now that we are thorough with the Docker architecture and understand how Docker works, further in this Docker tutorial, let’s get started with the installation and workflow of Docker and implement important Docker commands.

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Installing Docker

For installing Docker on Windows and macOS, the process is quite simple. All we have to do is download and install Docker from Download Docker which includes Docker client, Docker machine, Compose (Mac only), Kitematic, and VirtualBox.

On the other hand, in the case of Linux, there are several steps that we need to follow. Let’s check out.

To install Docker on the Ubuntu box, first, we need to update its packages. To do so, type the below command on the terminal:

sudo apt-get update

As we are using this command on sudo, after we hit Enter, it will ask for a password. Provide the password and then follow the steps given further in this Docker tutorial.

Now, we must install its recommended packages. For that, just type the below command:

sudo apt-get install linux-image-extra-$(uname -r) linux-image-extra-virtual

Now, we have successfully installed the prerequisites for Docker. Press ‘y’ to continue further

sudo apt-get install docker- engine

Let’s move forward in this docker tutorial and install Docker engine

The Docker installation process is complete now. Use the below command to verify if Docker is installed correctly

sudo service docker start

You will get an output as start: Job is already running: docker

This means that Docker has been started successfully.

Running a Container

After the installation of Docker, we should be able to run the containers. If we don’t have a container to run, then Docker will download the image in order to build the container from the Docker hub and then will build and run it.

We can run a simple ‘hello-world’ container to crosscheck if everything is working properly. For that, run the following command:

docker run hello-world


Hello from Docker!

This message shows that the installation appears to be working correctly.

Now, let’s move forward in this Docker tutorial to understand Docker workflow.

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Typical Local Workflow

Docker’s typical local workflow allows users to create images, pull images, publish images, and run containers.

Let’s understand this typical local workflow from the diagram below:

Dockerfile here consists of the configuration and the name of the image pulled from a Docker registry, like a Docker hub. This file basically helps in building an image from it which includes the instructions about container configuration or it can be image pulling from a Docker registry like Docker hub.

Let’s understand this process in a little detailed way:

  • It basically involves building an image from a Dockerfile that consists of instructions about container configuration or image pulling from a Docker registry, like Docker hub.
  • When this image is built in our Docker environment, we should be able to run the image which further creates a container.
  • In our container, we can do any operations such as:
    • Stopping the container
    • Starting the container
    • Restarting the container
  • These runnable containers can be started, stopped, or restarted just like how we operate a virtual machine or a computer.
  • Whatever manual changes are made such as configurations or software installations, these changes in a container can be committed to making a new image, which can further be used for creating a container from it later.
  • At last, when we want to share our image with our team or to the world, we can easily push our image into a Docker registry.
  • One can easily pull this image from the Docker registry using the pull command.

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Pulling an Image from the Docker Registry

The easiest way to obtain an image, to build a container from, is to find an already prepared image from Docker’s official website.

We can choose from various common software such as MySQL, Node.js, Java, Nginx, or WordPress on the Docker hub as well as from the hundreds of open-source images made by common people across the globe.

For example, if we want to download the image for MySQL, then we can use the pull command:

docker pull mysql

In case we want the exact version of the image, then we can use:

docker pull mysql:5.5.45


REPOSITORY       TAG      IMAGE VIRTUAL SIZE<none&gt  <none> 4b9b8b27fb42 214.4 MB
mysql  5.5.45     0da0b10c6fd8 213.5 MB

When we run this command, we can observe the created image with the repository name <none>.

Now, to add the identity of the repository, we can use the following command:

docker build –t test-intellipaat .

After -t, we can add any name of our choice to identify our repository.


REPOSITORY TAG IMAGE ID VIRTUAL SIZEtest-intellipaat  latest 4b9b8b27fb42   214.4 MB
mysql  5.5.45  0da0b10c6fd8   213.5 MB

Now, in this Docker tutorial, we shall customize an image manually by installing software or by changing configurations. After completion, we can run the docker commit command to create an image of the running container.

Running an Image

In order to run a Docker image, all we need to do is use the run command followed by our local image name or the one we retrieved from the Docker hub.

Usually, a Docker image requires some added environment variables, which can be specified with the -e option. For long-running processes like daemons, we also need to use the –d option.

To start the ‘test-intellipaat’ image, we need to run the command shown below which configures the MySQL root user’s password as documented in the Docker hub MySQL repository’s documentation:

docker run -e MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=root+1 –d test-intellipaat

To check the container running, use the command below:

docker ps

This command lists all of our running processes, image, the name they are created from, the command that is run, ports that software are listening on, and the name of the container.

CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND30645F307114 test-intellipaat “/entrypoint.sh mysql”PORTS NAMES
3306/tcp  shubham_rana

We can figure out from the above output that the name of the container is ‘shubham_rana’ which is an auto-generated one.

When we want to explicitly name the container, the best practice is to use the –name option that inserts the name of our choice at container startup:

docker run –name intellipaat-sql -e MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=root+1 -d est-mysql

We can easily name our container with this command.

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Stopping and Starting Containers

Once we have our Docker container up and running, we can use it by typing the docker stop command with the container name as shown below:

docker stop intellipaat-sql

As our entire container is written on a disk, in case we want to run our container again from the state in which we shut it down, we can use the start command:

docker start intellipaat-sql

Now, let’s see how we can tag an image.

Tagging an Image

Once we have our image up and running, we can tag it with a username, image name, and the version number before we push it into the repository using the docker tag command:

docker tag intellipaat-sql javajudd/est-mysql:1.0

Now, in this Docker tutorial, let’s see how we can push an image to the registry.

Pushing an Image into the Repository

Now, we are ready to push our image into the Docker hub for anyone to use it via a private repository.

  • First, go to https://hub.docker.com/ and create a free account
  • Next, login to the account using the login command:
docker login
  • Input username, password, and email address we are registered with
  • Push our image using the push command, with our username, image, and the version name

Within a few minutes, we will receive a message about our repository stating that our repository has been successfully pushed.

When we go back to our Docker hub account, we will see that there is a new repository as shown below:

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Docker Commands

Listing Containers

We have already seen, in this Docker tutorial, how to list the running containers using the ps command, but now what we want is to list all the containers, regardless of their state. Well, to do that, all we have to do is add the -a option as shown below:

docker ps -a

Now, we can easily distinguish between which container we want to start with and which one to remove.

Removing Containers

After using a container, we would usually want to remove it rather than having it lying around to consume the disk space.

We can use the rm command to remove a container as shown below:

docker rm intellipaat-sql

Removing Images

We already know how to list all the locally cached images using the images command. These cached images can occupy a significant amount of space, so in order to free up some space by removing unwanted images, we can use the rmi command as shown below:

docker rmi intellipaat-sql

Now, we know how to remove cached images, but what about the unwanted and unnamed images that we may end up generating during the debugging cycle of creating a new image? These images are denoted with the name, <none>. We can remove them all by using the following command:

docker rmi $(docker images -q -f dangling=true)

Listing Ports

Knowing which ports are exposed by a container beforehand makes our work a lot easier and faster, e.g., Port 3306 is for accessing a MySQL database and Port 80 is for accessing a web server. Using the port command, as shown below, we can display all the exposed ports:

docker port intellipaat-sql

Listing Processes

To display processing in a container, we can use the top command in Docker, which is much similar to the top command in Linux.

docker top intellipaat-sql

Executing Commands

To execute commands in a running container, we can use the exec command.

For example, if we want to list the contents of the root of the hard drive, we can use the exec command as shown below:

docker exec intellipaat-sql ls /

We can gain access to the bash shell if we wish to ssh as root into the container we can use the following command:

docker exec -it my-est-mysql bash

Note: All communications between Docker clients and Docker daemon are secure since they are already encrypted.

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Running Containers

The run command is one of the most complicated commands of all the Docker commands. Using this command, we can perform various tasks like configuring security and managing network settings and system resources such as memory, filesystems, and CPU. We can visit the following link to see and understand how to do all of the above and more using the run command.

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A Dockerfile contains all the instructions, e.g., the Linux commands to install and configure the software. Dockerfile creation, as we already know, is the primary way of generating a Docker image. When we use the build command to create an image, it can refer to a Dockerfile available on our path or to a URL such as the GitHub repository.


The instructions in a Dockerfile are executed in the same order as they are found in the Dockerfile.

There can also be comments starting with the # character in the Dockerfile.

The following table contains the list of instructions available:

Instruction Description
FROM The first instruction in the Dockerfile, it identifies an image to inherit from
MAINTAINER This instruction provides visibility as well as credit to the author of the image
RUN This instruction executes a Linux command  to install and configure
ENTRYPOINT The final script or application which is used to bootstrap the container and make it an executable application
CMD This instruction uses a JSON array to provide default arguments to the ENTRYPOINT
LABEL This instruction contains the name/value metadata about the image
ENV This instruction sets the environment variables
COPY This instruction copies files into the container
ADD This instruction is basically an alternative to the COPY instruction
WORKDIR This sets a working directory for RUN, CMD, ENTRYPOINT, COPY, and/or ADD instructions
EXPOSE The ports on which the container listens
VOLUME This instruction is to create a mount point
USER  An instruction to run RUN, CMD, and/or ENTRYPOINT instructions

Docker Machine

Docker machine is a command-line utility that is used to manage one or more local machines (which are usually run in separate VirtualBox instances) or remote machines that are hosted on cloud providers, e.g., Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, etc.

How to create a Local Machine?

Docker Toolbox comes with a default Docker machine named ‘default.’ This is just to give us a taste of it and to get us started with, but we may need multiple machines later on to segment the different containers that are running. To do that, we can use the following command:

docker-machine create –d virtualbox intellipaat

This command will create a local machine using a VirtualBox image named ‘intellipaat’.

Listing Machines

If we want to list the machines that we have configured, we can run the following command:

docker-machine ls

Starting and Stopping Machines

We can start the Docker machine that we have created using the following command:

docker-machine start intellipaat

Now that the Docker machine has started, we will have to configure the Docker command line with which the Docker daemon should interact. We can use the following command to do this:

docker –machine env intellipaat
eval “$(docker-machine env intellipaat)”

Now, to stop a machine, use the following command:

docker-machine stop intellipaat

Note: These start and stop commands will start and stop our VirtualBox VMs, and we can watch the state of the VMs changing while we run the commands if we have the VirtualBox manager open.

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From this Docker tutorial, we have got a detailed understanding of Docker concepts like its workflow, its need, useful Docker commands, along with Docker images and containers.

While here we covered quite a bit of Docker’s core functionality, there is still a lot to know. If you’re looking forward to learn Docker, then you must go for a structured DevOps Training provided by Intellipaat, where you will work on various case-based scenarios, along with the exhaustive topic-wise assignments, hands-on sessions, and various industrial-based projects that will prepare you to grab a DevOps job in any top-notch MNC.

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