January 29, 2020

Docker Tutorial Part 2 - Getting Started with Docker Operations

In this chapter, we are going to learn about docker shell, the command line utility and how to use it to launch containers. We will also learn what it means to run a container, its lifecycle and perform basic operations such as creating, starting, stopping, removing, pausing containers and checking the status etc.

Using docker cli

We can use docker cli to interact with docker daemon. Various functions of docker command is given below. Try this yourself by runnig $sudo docker command



Usage: docker [OPTIONS] COMMAND [arg...]
       docker [ --help | -v | --version ]

A self-sufficient runtime for containers.


  --config=~/.docker              Location of client config files
  -D, --debug                     Enable debug mode
  -H, --host=[]                   Daemon socket(s) to connect to
  -h, --help                      Print usage
  -l, --log-level=info            Set the logging level
  --tls                           Use TLS; implied by --tlsverify
  --tlscacert=~/.docker/ca.pem    Trust certs signed only by this CA
  --tlscert=~/.docker/cert.pem    Path to TLS certificate file
  --tlskey=~/.docker/key.pem      Path to TLS key file
  --tlsverify                     Use TLS and verify the remote
  -v, --version                   Print version information and quit

    attach    Attach 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 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 a container, image or task
    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
    network   Manage Docker networks
    node      Manage Docker Swarm nodes
    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 a container
    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
    service   Manage Docker services
    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
    swarm     Manage Docker Swarm
    tag       Tag an image into a repository
    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
    volume    Manage Docker volumes
    wait      Block until a container stops, then print its exit code

Getting Information about Docker Setup

We can get the information about our Docker setup in several ways. Namely,

docker version

docker -v

docker system info

The docker system info command gives a lot of useful information like total number of containers and images along with information about host resource utilization etc.

Stream events from the docker daemon

Docker events serves us with the stream of events or interactions that are happening with the docker daemon. This does not stream the log data of application inside the container. That is done by docker logs command. Let us see how this command works
Open an another terminal. Let us call the old terminal as Terminal 1 and the newer one as Terminal 2.

From Terminal 1, execute docker events. Now you are getting the data stream from docker daemon

docker system events

Launching our first container

Now we have a basic understanding of docker command and sub commands, let us dive straight into launching our very first container

docker run alpine:3.4 uptime



Unable to find image 'alpine:3.4' locally
3.4: Pulling from library/alpine
81033e7c1d6a: Pull complete
Digest: sha256:2532609239f3a96fbc30670716d87c8861b8a1974564211325633ca093b11c0b
Status: Downloaded newer image for alpine:3.4

 15:24:34 up  7:36,  load average: 0.00, 0.03, 0.04

What happened?

This command will

Where did my container go?

docker container  ps

docker container  ps -l

The point here to remember is that, when that executable stops running inside the container, the container itself will stop.

Let's see what happens when we run that command again,


docker run alpine uptime
 07:48:06 up  3:15,  load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00

Now docker no longer pulls the image again from registry, because it has stored the image locally from the previous run. So once an image is pulled, we can make use of that image to create and run as many container as we want without the need of downloading the image again. However it has created a new instance of the iamge/container.

Checking Status of the containers

We have understood how docker run commands works. But what if you want to see list of running containers and history of containers that had run and exited? This can be done by executing the following commands

docker ps


CONTAINER ID        IMAGE               COMMAND             CREATED             STATUS              PORTS               NAMES

This command doesn't give us any information. Because, docker ps command will only show list of container(s) which are running

docker ps -l


CONTAINER ID        IMAGE               COMMAND             CREATED              STATUS                          PORTS               NAMES
988f4d90d604        alpine              "uptime"            About a minute ago   Exited (0) About a minute ago                       fervent_hypatia

the -l flag shows the last run container along with other details like image it used, command it executed, return code of that command, etc.,

docker ps -n 2


988f4d90d604        alpine              "uptime"            About a minute ago   Exited (0) About a minute ago                       fervent_hypatia
acea3023dca4        alpine              "uptime"            3 minutes ago        Exited (0) 3 minutes ago                            mad_darwin

Docker gives us the flexibility to show the desirable number of last run containers. This can be achieved by using -n #no_of_results flag

docker ps -a


CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                        COMMAND                  CREATED              STATUS                          PORTS                  NAMES
988f4d90d604        alpine                       "uptime"                 About a minute ago   Exited (0) About a minute ago                          fervent_hypatia
acea3023dca4        alpine                       "uptime"                 4 minutes ago        Exited (0) 4 minutes ago                               mad_darwin
60ffa94e69ec        ubuntu:14.04.3               "bash"                   27 hours ago         Exited (0) 26 hours ago                                infallible_meninsky
dd75c04e7d2b        schoolofdevops/ghost:0.3.1   "/entrypoint.sh npm s"   4 days ago           Exited (0) 3 days ago                                  kickass_bardeen
c082972f66d6        schoolofdevops/ghost:0.3.1   "/entrypoint.sh npm s"   4 days ago           Exited (0) 3 days ago >2368/tcp   sodcblog

This command will show all the container we have run so far.

Running Containers in Interactive Mode

We can interact with docker containers by giving -it flags at the run time. These flags stand for
* i - Interactive
* t - tty

docker run -it alpine:3.4 sh


Unable to find image 'alpine:3.4' locally
latest: Pulling from library/alpine
ff3a5c916c92: Already exists
Digest: sha256:7df6db5aa61ae9480f52f0b3a06a140ab98d427f86d8d5de0bedab9b8df6b1c0
Status: Downloaded newer image for alpine:latest
/ #

As you see, we have landed straight into sh shell of that container. This is the result of using -it flags and mentioning that container to run the sh shell. Don't try to exit that container yet. We have to execute some other commands in it to understand the next topic


Like a full fledged OS, Docker container has its own namespaces
This enables Docker container to isolate itself from the host as well as other containers

Run the following commands and see that alpine container has its own namespaces and not inheriting much from host OS


[Run the following commands inside the container]

cat /etc/issue

ps aux




We have understood that containers have their own namespaces. But will they share something to some extent? the answer is YES. Let's run the following commands on both the container and the host machine

[Run the following commands inside the container]


uname -a

cat /proc/cpuinfo



As you can see, the container uses the same Linux Kernel from the host machine. Just like uname command, the following commands share the same information as well. In order to avoid repetition, we will see the output of container alone.

Now exit out of that container by running exit or by pressing ctrl+d

Making Containers Persist

Running Containers in Detached Mode

So far, we have run the containers interactively. But this is not always the case. Sometimes you may want to start a container without interacting with it. This can be achieved by using "detached mode" (-d) flag. Hence the container will launch the deafault application inside and run in the background. This saves a lot of time, we don't have to wait till the applications launches successfully. It will happen behind the screen. Let us run the following command to see this in action


docker run -idt schoolofdevops/loop program

-d , --detach : detached mode



This will run the container in detached mode. We are only given with full container id as the output

Let us check whether this container is running or not

docker ps


CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                 COMMAND             CREATED             STATUS              PORTS               NAMES
2533adf280ac        schoolofdevops/loop   "program"           37 seconds ago      Up 36 seconds                           prickly_bose

As we can see in the output, the container is running in the background

Checking Logs

To check the logs, find out the container id/name and run the following commands, replacing 08f0242aa61c with your container id


docker container ps

docker container logs <container_id/name>

docker container logs -f  <container_id/name>

Connecting to running container to execute commands

We can connect to the containers which are running in detached mode by using these following commands

docker exec -it <container_id/name> sh


/ #

You could try running any commands on the shell e.g.

apk update
apk add vim
ps aux

Now exit the container.

Launching a container with a pre built app image

To launch vote container run the following command. Don't bother about the new flag -P now. We will explain about that flag later in this chapter

docker container run  -idt -P  schoolofdevops/vote


Unable to find image 'schoolofdevops/vote:latest' locally
latest: Pulling from schoolofdevops/vote
Digest: sha256:9195942ea654fa8d8aeb37900be5619215c08e7e1bef0b7dfe4c04a9cc20a8c2
Status: Downloaded newer image for schoolofdevops/vote:latest

Lets check the status of the container

docker ps -l


CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                 COMMAND                  CREATED             STATUS              PORTS                   NAMES
7d58ecc05754        schoolofdevops/vote   "gunicorn app:app -b…"   27 seconds ago      Up 26 seconds>80/tcp   peaceful_varahamihira

Renaming the container

We can rename the container by using following command

docker rename 7d58ecc05754 vote

[replace 7d58ecc05754 with the actual container id on your system ]

We have changed container's automatically generated name to vote. This new name can be of your choice. The point to understand is this command takes two arguments. The Old_name followed by New_name Run docker ps command to check the effect of changes

docker ps


CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                 COMMAND                  CREATED             STATUS              PORTS                   NAMES
7d58ecc05754        schoolofdevops/vote   "gunicorn app:app -b…"   3 minutes ago       Up 3 minutes>80/tcp   vote

As you can see here, the container is renamed to vote. This makes referencing container in cli very much easier.

Ready to vote ?

Let's see what this vote application does by connecting to that application. For that we need,

Let's find out the port mapping of container to host. Docker provides subcommand called port which does this job

docker port vote  


80/tcp ->

So whatever traffic the host gets in port 2368 will be mapped to container's port 32768

Let's connect to http://IP_ADDRESS:PORT to see the actual application

Finding Everything about the running container

This topic discusses about finding metadata of containers. These metadata include various parameters like,
* State of the container
* Mounts
* Configuration
* Network, etc.,


Lets try this inspect subcommand in action

docker inspect vote

Data output by above command contains detailed descriptino of the container an its properties. is represented in JSON format which makes filtering these results easier.

Copying files between container and client host

We can copy files/directories form host to container and vice-versa
Let us create a file on the host

touch testfile

To copy the testfile from host machine to ghsot contanier, try

docker cp testfile vote:/opt  

This command will copy testfile to vote container's /opt directory and will not give any output. To verify the file has been copies or not, let us log into container by running,

docker exec -it vote bash

Change directory into /opt and list the files

cd /opt  



There you can see that file has been successfully copied. Now exit the container

Now you may try to cp some files from the container to the host machine

docker cp vote:/app  .  

Checking the Stats

Docker stats command returns a data stream of resource utilization used by containers. The flag --no-stream disables data stream and displays only first result

docker stats --no-stream=true vote

docker stats

Controlling Resources

Docker provides us the granularity to control each container's resource utilization. We have several commands in the inventory to achieve this

Putting limits on Running Containers

First, let us monitor the utilization

docker stats

You can see that Memory attribute has max as its value, which means unlimited usage of host's RAM. We can put a cap on that by using update command

docker update --memory 400M --memory-swap -1 vote   



Let us check whether the change has taken effect or not with docker stats terminal

docker stat

As you can see, the memory utilization of the container is changed from xxxx (unlimited) to 400 mb

Limiting Resources while launching new containers

The following resources can be limited using the update command
* CPU * Memory * Disk IO * Capabilities

Open two terminals, lets call them T1, and T2
In T1, start monitoring the stats

docker stats


CONTAINER           CPU %               MEM USAGE / LIMIT     MM %               NET I/O             BLOCK I/O             PIDS
b28efeef41f8        0.16%               190.1 MiB / 400 MiB   47.51%              1.296 kB / 648 B    86.02 kB / 45.06 kB   0
CONTAINER           CPU %               MEM USAGE / LIMIT     MEM %               NET I/O             BLOCK I/O             PIDS
b28efeef41f8        0.01%               190.1 MiB / 400 MiB   47.51%              1.296 kB / 648 B    86.02 kB / 45.06 kB   0

From T2, launch containers with different CPU shares as well as cpus configurations. Default CPU shares are set to 1024. This is a relative weight. Observe docker stats command after every launch to see the effect of your configurations.

[CPU Shares]

docker run -d --cpu-shares 1024 schoolofdevops/stresstest stress --cpu 2

docker run -d --cpu-shares 1024 schoolofdevops/stresstest stress --cpu 2

docker run -d --cpu-shares 512 schoolofdevops/stresstest stress --cpu 2

docker run -d --cpu-shares 512 schoolofdevops/stresstest stress --cpu 2

docker run -d --cpu-shares 4096 schoolofdevops/stresstest stress --cpu 2


docker run -d --cpus 0.2 schoolofdevops/stresstest stress --cpu 2

Close the T2 terminal once you are done with this lab.

Checking disk utilisation by

docker system df


docker system df
TYPE                TOTAL               ACTIVE              SIZE                RECLAIMABLE
Images              7                   5                   1.031GB             914.5MB (88%)
Containers          8                   4                   27.97MB             27.73MB (99%)
Local Volumes       3                   2                   0B                  0B
Build Cache                                                 0B                  0B

To prune, you could possibly use

docker container prune

docker system prune


docker system prune
WARNING! This will remove:
        - all stopped containers
        - all networks not used by at least one container
        - all dangling images
        - all build cache
Are you sure you want to continue? [y/N]

Make sure you understand what all will be removed before using this command.

Stopping and Removing Containers

We have learnt about interacting with a container, running a container, pausing and unpausing a container, creating and starting a container. But what if you want to stop the container or remove the container itself

Stop a container

A container can be stopped using stop command. This command will stop the application inside that container hence the container itself will be stopped. This command basically sends a SIGTERM signal to the container (graceful shutdown)


docker stop <container_id/name>

Kill a container

This command will send SIGKILL signal and kills the container ungracefully


docker kill <container_id/name>

If you want to remove a container, then execute the following command. Before running this command, run docker ps -a to see the list of pre run containers. Choose a container of your wish and then execute docker rm command. Then run docker ps -a again to check the removed container list or not


docker rm <container_id/name>
docker rm -f <container_id/name>


Launching Containers with Elevated Privileges

When the operator executes docker run --privileged, Docker will enable to access to all devices on the host as well as set some configuration in AppArmor or SELinux to allow the container nearly all the same access to the host as processes running outside containers on the host.

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