Introduction

Docker is an application that simplifies the process of managing application processes in containers. Containers let you run your applications in resource-isolated processes. They’re similar to virtual machines, but containers are more portable, more resource-friendly, and more dependent on the host operating system.

In this tutorial, you’ll install and use Docker Community Edition (CE) on Ubuntu 20.04. You’ll install Docker itself, work with containers and images, and push an image to a Docker Repository.

Prerequisites

To follow this tutorial, you will need the following:

Step 1 — Installing Docker

The Docker installation package available in the official Ubuntu repository may not be the latest version. To ensure we get the latest version, we’ll install Docker from the official Docker repository. To do that, we’ll add a new package source, add the GPG key from Docker to ensure the downloads are valid, and then install the package.

First, update your existing list of packages:

sudo apt update

Next, install a few prerequisite packages which let apt use packages over HTTPS:

sudo apt install apt-transport-https ca-certificates curl software-properties-common

Then add the GPG key for the official Docker repository to your system:

curl -fsSL https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu/gpg | sudo apt-key add -

Add the Docker repository to APT sources:

sudo add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu focal stable"

Next, update the package database with the Docker packages from the newly added repo:

sudo apt update

Make sure you are about to install from the Docker repo instead of the default Ubuntu repo:

apt-cache policy docker-ce

You’ll see output like this, although the version number for Docker may be different:Output of apt-cache policy docker-ce

docker-ce:
  Installed: (none)
  Candidate: 5:19.03.9~3-0~ubuntu-focal
  Version table:
     5:19.03.9~3-0~ubuntu-focal 500
        500 https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu focal/stable amd64 Packages

Notice that docker-ce is not installed, but the candidate for installation is from the Docker repository for Ubuntu 20.04 (focal).

Finally, install Docker:

sudo apt install docker-ce

Docker should now be installed, the daemon started, and the process enabled to start on boot. Check that it’s running:

sudo systemctl status docker

The output should be similar to the following, showing that the service is active and running:

Output● docker.service - Docker Application Container Engine
     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/docker.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
     Active: active (running) since Tue 2020-05-19 17:00:41 UTC; 17s ago
TriggeredBy: ● docker.socket
       Docs: https://docs.docker.com
   Main PID: 24321 (dockerd)
      Tasks: 8
     Memory: 46.4M
     CGroup: /system.slice/docker.service
             └─24321 /usr/bin/dockerd -H fd:// --containerd=/run/containerd/containerd.sock

Installing Docker now gives you not just the Docker service (daemon) but also the docker command line utility, or the Docker client. We’ll explore how to use the docker command later in this tutorial.

Step 2 — Executing the Docker Command Without Sudo (Optional)

By default, the docker command can only be run the root user or by a user in the docker group, which is automatically created during Docker’s installation process. If you attempt to run the docker command without prefixing it with sudo or without being in the docker group, you’ll get an output like this:

Outputdocker: Cannot connect to the Docker daemon. Is the docker daemon running on this host?.
See 'docker run --help'.

If you want to avoid typing sudo whenever you run the docker command, add your username to the docker group:

sudo usermod -aG docker ${USER}

To apply the new group membership,  log out of the server and back in, or type the following:

su - ${USER}

You will be prompted to enter your user’s password to continue.

Confirm that your user is now added to the docker group by typing:

id -nG
Outputsammy sudo docker

If you need to add a user to the docker group that you’re not logged in as, declare that username explicitly using:

sudo usermod -aG docker username

The rest of this article assumes you are running the docker command as a user in the docker group. If you choose not to, please prepend the commands with sudo.

Let’s explore the docker command next.

Step 3 — Using the Docker Command

Using docker consists of passing it a chain of options and commands followed by arguments. The syntax takes this form:

docker [option] [command] [arguments]

To view all available subcommands, type:

docker

As of Docker 19, the complete list of available subcommands includes:

Output  attach      Attach local standard input, output, and error streams to a running container
  build       Build an image from a Dockerfile
  commit      Create a new image from a container's changes
  cp          Copy files/folders between a container and the local filesystem
  create      Create a new container
  diff        Inspect changes to files or directories on a container's filesystem
  events      Get real time events from the server
  exec        Run a command in a running container
  export      Export a container's filesystem as a tar archive
  history     Show the history of an image
  images      List images
  import      Import the contents from a tarball to create a filesystem image
  info        Display system-wide information
  inspect     Return low-level information on Docker objects
  kill        Kill one or more running containers
  load        Load an image from a tar archive or STDIN
  login       Log in to a Docker registry
  logout      Log out from a Docker registry
  logs        Fetch the logs of a container
  pause       Pause all processes within one or more containers
  port        List port mappings or a specific mapping for the container
  ps          List containers
  pull        Pull an image or a repository from a registry
  push        Push an image or a repository to a registry
  rename      Rename a container
  restart     Restart one or more containers
  rm          Remove one or more containers
  rmi         Remove one or more images
  run         Run a command in a new container
  save        Save one or more images to a tar archive (streamed to STDOUT by default)
  search      Search the Docker Hub for images
  start       Start one or more stopped containers
  stats       Display a live stream of container(s) resource usage statistics
  stop        Stop one or more running containers
  tag         Create a tag TARGET_IMAGE that refers to SOURCE_IMAGE
  top         Display the running processes of a container
  unpause     Unpause all processes within one or more containers
  update      Update configuration of one or more containers
  version     Show the Docker version information
  wait        Block until one or more containers stop, then print their exit codes

To view the options available to a specific command, type:

docker docker-subcommand --help

To view system-wide information about Docker, use:

docker info

Let’s explore some of these commands. We’ll start by working with images.

Step 4 — Working with Docker Images

Docker containers are built from Docker images. By default, Docker pulls these images from Docker Hub, a Docker registry managed by Docker, the company behind the Docker project. Anyone can host their Docker images on Docker Hub, so most applications and Linux distributions you’ll need will have images hosted there.

To check whether you can access and download images from Docker Hub, type:

docker run hello-world

The output will indicate that Docker in working correctly:

OutputUnable to find image 'hello-world:latest' locally
latest: Pulling from library/hello-world
0e03bdcc26d7: Pull complete
Digest: sha256:6a65f928fb91fcfbc963f7aa6d57c8eeb426ad9a20c7ee045538ef34847f44f1
Status: Downloaded newer image for hello-world:latest

Hello from Docker!
This message shows that your installation appears to be working correctly.

...

Docker was initially unable to find the hello-world image locally, so it downloaded the image from Docker Hub, which is the default repository. Once the image downloaded, Docker created a container from the image and the application within the container executed, displaying the message.

You can search for images available on Docker Hub by using the docker command with the search subcommand. For example, to search for the Ubuntu image, type:

docker search ubuntu

The script will crawl Docker Hub and return a listing of all images whose name match the search string. In this case, the output will be similar to this:

OutputNAME                                                      DESCRIPTION                                     STARS               OFFICIAL            AUTOMATED
ubuntu                                                    Ubuntu is a Debian-based Linux operating sys…   10908               [OK]
dorowu/ubuntu-desktop-lxde-vnc                            Docker image to provide HTML5 VNC interface …   428                                     [OK]
rastasheep/ubuntu-sshd                                    Dockerized SSH service, built on top of offi…   244                                     [OK]
consol/ubuntu-xfce-vnc                                    Ubuntu container with "headless" VNC session…   218                                     [OK]
ubuntu-upstart                                            Upstart is an event-based replacement for th…   108                 [OK]
ansible/ubuntu14.04-ansible                               Ubuntu 14.04 LTS with 
...

In the OFFICIAL column, OK indicates an image built and supported by the company behind the project. Once you’ve identified the image that you would like to use, you can download it to your computer using the pull subcommand.

Execute the following command to download the official ubuntu image to your computer:

docker pull ubuntu

You’ll see the following output:

OutputUsing default tag: latest
latest: Pulling from library/ubuntu
d51af753c3d3: Pull complete
fc878cd0a91c: Pull complete
6154df8ff988: Pull complete
fee5db0ff82f: Pull complete
Digest: sha256:747d2dbbaaee995098c9792d99bd333c6783ce56150d1b11e333bbceed5c54d7
Status: Downloaded newer image for ubuntu:latest
docker.io/library/ubuntu:latest

After an image has been downloaded, you can then run a container using the downloaded image with the run subcommand. As you saw with the hello-world example, if an image has not been downloaded when docker is executed with the run subcommand, the Docker client will first download the image, then run a container using it.

To see the images that have been downloaded to your computer, type:

docker images

The output will look similar to the following:

OutputREPOSITORY          TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
ubuntu              latest              1d622ef86b13        3 weeks ago         73.9MB
hello-world         latest              bf756fb1ae65        4 months ago        13.3kB

As you’ll see later in this tutorial, images that you use to run containers can be modified and used to generate new images, which may then be uploaded (pushed is the technical term) to Docker Hub or other Docker registries.

Let’s look at how to run containers in more detail.

Step 5 — Running a Docker Container

The hello-world container you ran in the previous step is an example of a container that runs and exits after emitting a test message. Containers can be much more useful than that, and they can be interactive. After all, they are similar to virtual machines, only more resource-friendly.

As an example, let’s run a container using the latest image of Ubuntu. The combination of the -i and -t switches gives you interactive shell access into the container:

docker run -it ubuntu

Your command prompt should change to reflect the fact that you’re now working inside the container and should take this form:

Outputroot@d9b100f2f636:/#

Note the container id in the command prompt. In this example, it is d9b100f2f636. You’ll need that container ID later to identify the container when you want to remove it.

Now you can run any command inside the container. For example, let’s update the package database inside the container. You don’t need to prefix any command with sudo, because you’re operating inside the container as the root user:

apt update

Then install any application in it. Let’s install Node.js:

apt install nodejs

This installs Node.js in the container from the official Ubuntu repository. When the installation finishes, verify that Node.js is installed:

node -v

You’ll see the version number displayed in your terminal:

Outputv10.19.0

Any changes you make inside the container only apply to that container.

To exit the container, type exit at the prompt.

Let’s look at managing the containers on our system next.

Step 6 — Managing Docker Containers

After using Docker for a while, you’ll have many active (running) and inactive containers on your computer. To view the active ones, use:

docker ps

You will see output similar to the following:

OutputCONTAINER ID        IMAGE               COMMAND             CREATED             

In this tutorial, you started two containers; one from the hello-world image and another from the ubuntu image. Both containers are no longer running, but they still exist on your system.

To view all containers — active and inactive, run docker ps  with the -a switch:

docker ps -a

You’ll see output similar to this:

1c08a7a0d0e4        ubuntu              "/bin/bash"         2 minutes ago       Exited (0) 8 seconds ago                       quizzical_mcnulty
a707221a5f6c        hello-world         "/hello"            6 minutes ago       Exited (0) 6 minutes ago                       youthful_curie

To view the latest container you created, pass it the -l switch:

docker ps -l
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE               COMMAND             CREATED             STATUS                      PORTS               NAMES
1c08a7a0d0e4        ubuntu              "/bin/bash"         2 minutes ago       Exited (0) 40 seconds ago                       quizzical_mcnulty

To start a stopped container, use docker start, followed by the container ID or the container’s name.  Let’s start the Ubuntu-based container with the ID of  1c08a7a0d0e4:

docker start 1c08a7a0d0e4

The container will start, and you can use docker ps to see its status:

OutputCONTAINER ID        IMAGE               COMMAND             CREATED             STATUS              PORTS               NAMES
1c08a7a0d0e4        ubuntu              "/bin/bash"         3 minutes ago       Up 5 seconds                            quizzical_mcnulty

To stop a running container, use docker stop, followed by the container ID or name. This time, we’ll use the name that Docker assigned the container, which is quizzical_mcnulty:

docker stop quizzical_mcnulty

Once you’ve decided you no longer need a container anymore, remove it with the docker rm command, again using either the container ID or the name.  Use the docker ps -a command to find the container ID or name for the container associated with the hello-world image and remove it.

docker rm youthful_curie

You can start a new container and give it a name using the --name switch. You can also use the --rm switch to create a container that removes itself when it’s stopped. See the docker run help command for more information on these options and others.

Containers can be turned into images which you can use to build new containers. Let’s look at how that works.

Step 7 — Committing Changes in a Container to a Docker Image

When you start up a Docker image, you can create, modify, and delete files just like you can with a virtual machine. The changes that you make will only apply to that container. You can start and stop it, but once you destroy it with the docker rm command, the changes will be lost for good.

This section shows you how to save the state of a container as a new Docker image.

After installing Node.js inside the Ubuntu container, you now have a container running off an image, but the container is different from the image you used to create it.  But you might want to reuse this Node.js container as the basis for new images later.

Then commit the changes to a new Docker image instance using the following command.

docker commit -m "What you did to the image" -a "Author Name" container_id repository/new_image_name

The -m switch is for the commit message that helps you and others know what changes you made, while -a is used to specify the author. The container_id is the one you noted earlier in the tutorial when you started the interactive Docker session. Unless you created additional repositories on Docker Hub, the repository is usually your Docker Hub username.

For example, for the user bamboozle, with the container ID of d9b100f2f636, the command would be:

docker commit -m "added Node.js" -a "bamboozle" d9b100f2f636 sammy/ubuntu-nodejs

When you commit an image, the new image is saved locally on your computer. Later in this tutorial, you’ll learn how to push an image to a Docker registry like Docker Hub so others can access it.

Listing the Docker images again will show the new image, as well as the old one that it was derived from:

docker images

You’ll see output like this:

OutputREPOSITORY               TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
bamboozle/ubuntu-nodejs   latest              7c1f35226ca6        7 seconds ago       179MB
...

In this example, ubuntu-nodejs is the new image, which was derived from the existing ubuntu image from Docker Hub. The size difference reflects the changes that were made. And in this example, the change was that NodeJS was installed. So next time you need to run a container using Ubuntu with NodeJS pre-installed, you can just use the new image.

You can also build Images from a Dockerfile, which lets you automate the installation of software in a new image. However, that’s outside the scope of this tutorial.

Now let’s share the new image with others so they can create containers from it.

Step 8 — Pushing Docker Images to a Docker Repository

The next logical step after creating a new image from an existing image is to share it with a select few of your friends, the whole world on Docker Hub, or other Docker registry that you have access to. To push an image to Docker Hub or any other Docker registry, you must have an account there.

To push your image, first log into Docker Hub.

docker login -u docker-registry-username

You’ll be prompted to authenticate using your Docker Hub password. If you specified the correct password, authentication should succeed.

Note: If your Docker registry username is different from the local username you used to create the image, you will have to tag your image with your registry username. For the example given in the last step, you would type:

docker tag bamboozle/ubuntu-nodejs docker-registry-username/ubuntu-nodejs

Then you may push your own image using:

docker push docker-registry-username/docker-image-name

To push the ubuntu-nodejs image to the sammy repository, the command would be:

docker push bamboozle/ubuntu-nodejs

The process may take some time to complete as it uploads the images, but when completed, the output will look like this:

OutputThe push refers to a repository [docker.io/bamboozle/ubuntu-nodejs]
e3fbbfb44187: Pushed
5f70bf18a086: Pushed
a3b5c80a4eba: Pushed
7f18b442972b: Pushed
3ce512daaf78: Pushed
7aae4540b42d: Pushed

...


After pushing an image to a registry, it should be listed on your account’s dashboard.

If a push attempt results in an error of this sort, then you likely did not log in:

OutputThe push refers to a repository [docker.io/bamboozle/ubuntu-nodejs]
e3fbbfb44187: Preparing
5f70bf18a086: Preparing
a3b5c80a4eba: Preparing
7f18b442972b: Preparing
3ce512daaf78: Preparing
7aae4540b42d: Waiting
unauthorized: authentication required

Log in with docker login and repeat the push attempt. Then verify that it exists on your Docker Hub repository page.

You can now use docker pull bamboozle/ubuntu-nodejs to pull the image to a new machine and use it to run a new container.

Conclusion

In this tutorial you installed Docker, worked with images and containers, and pushed a modified image to Docker Hub. Now that you know the basics, explore the other Docker tutorials in the Bamboozle Community.