A Docker Image is a collection of all the required files for an executable. Docker Images are layered with the base image having no parent images. Docker images can be downloaded from registires, Docker Hub being an example, built from Dockerfiles or from existing containers.

# Pulling an image
docker pull repository-name:tag
# Examples
docker image pull mongo:3.3.11
docker pull hello-world # equivalent to :latest

# Listing images
docker image ls

# Filtering images
docker image ls | grep tomcat

# Removing an image
docker image rm image-id


Containers spin off from images either by runing an image using docker run image-name or created using docker create image-name, the difference being a created container will not start running right away. An existing container can be started, stopped or restarted, depending on its state.

A stopped container will keep its state, the data generated in it, but the idea of containers are to be stateless and containers should ideally be started by --rm so that they are removed once they finish running.

# List running containers
docker container ls

# List all containers
docker container ls -a

# Stop a container 
docker stop <container-id>

# Inspect a container
docker inspect <container-id>

# Find port bindings
docker port <container-id>

# Spin off a container from an image
docker run image-name
## Parameters
-P     # Bind all exposed ports to random ports
-p <host-port>:<container-port> # Bind host port to container port
-p <container-port> # Bind port to a random port on host
-d     # Run in detached mode
-i     # Make the container interactive by grabbing the standard in
-t     # Attach a terminal to the container
-v <volume-name>:<container-dir> # Bind volume
-v <host-absolute-path>:<container-dir> # Bind host directory to container
-rm    # Remove container upon stop
--name # Give container a name, --name=my-container

# Start a stopped container
docker start <container-id>

# Attach to a running container
docker attach <container-id>

# Remove a single container
docker container rm <container-id>

# Remove all stopped containers
docker container prune

Creating an Image from a Container

A container can be commited using the commit command in a desired state to be stored as an image.

docker run -it --rm ubuntu

# Run the following inside the container
apt-get update
apt-get install -y wget

# Stop the container by exiting

docker commit container-id koraytugay/ubuntu_wget
# At this point you should have a new image you can start anytime you like
# that comes with wget

docker run -it --rm koraytugay/ubuntu


A Dockerfile is a text-based build script from which images can be built. The instructions of Dockerfile can contain:

A Dockerfile is in the form of

# This is a comment.
INSTRUCTION argument(s)

where instructions are case-insensitive but best practice is to have them uppercase. Given a Dockerfile with following contents:

FROM busybox
CMD echo Hello world!

an image can be built by:

docker build -t koraytugay/busyhello .

Another advantage of using Dockerfiles is, they integrate easily with existing build systems and continuous integration tools.

See the official docs for detailed information on Dockerfile instructions.


Docker containers can have storage mounted to them, either in-memory storages, from the host file system or from docker volumes. All three types of mount points can be created using the --mount flag on the docker run and docker create subcommands.

Bind Mounts

This approach mounts a directory in the host filesystem to the container. Bind mounts are useful in development environments when the container creates log files, needs to operate on a file on the host system or needs to produce a file that will be stored on the host system after container stops. However this approach has its own problems such as depending on a specific location on the host container the container is running. They also create an opportunity for conflict with other containers.

The following will start a busybox container where /Users/kt/my-docker is mounted to /my-docker in the running container. Paths must be absolute. You can use $PWD to start from the working path, as in $PWD/my-docker.

docker run \
  --rm -it \
  --mount type=bind,source=/Users/kt/my-docker,target=/my-docker \

Directories can also be mounted with readonly by providing readonly=true as follows:

docker run \
  --rm -it \
  --mount type=bind,source=/Users/kt/my-docker,target=/my-docker,readonly=true \

Using the -v flag for Bind Mounts

The same behaviour can be achieved using the -v flag:

docker run -it --rm -v /Users/kt/my-docker:/my-docker busybox

Using the -v flag is discourged by Docker for bind mounts in favor of using the more verbose --mount synax.


Docker volumes are named filesystem trees managed by Docker. They can be implemented with disk storage on the host filesystem, or more exotic solutions such as cloud storage. All operations on Docker volumes can be accomplished using the docker volume subcommand set.

Using volumes is a method of decoupling storage from specialized locations on the filesystem that one might specify with bind mounts.

Using Docker volumes is a way of sayinig

I need a place to put some data that I’m working with.

This is a requirement that Docker can fill on any machine with Docker installed, which means containers are de-coupled from the host filesystem, in contrast to bind mounts.

A volume can be created as follows:

docker volume create my-volume

And the created volume can be inspected as follows:

docker volume inspect my-volume

which will return a result akin to:

        "CreatedAt": "2019-11-09T19:14:19Z",
        "Driver": "local",
        "Labels": {},
        "Mountpoint": "/var/lib/docker/volumes/my-volume/_data",
        "Name": "my-volume",
        "Options": {},
        "Scope": "local"

To make use of the volume we created, lets spin up a busybox container that will be removed upon completion, attaching the data directory to this volume and lets create a file in the data folder and stop the container:

docker run -it --rm -v my-volume:/data busybox
cd data
touch hello.txt
echo Hello > hello.txt

Spin up a new container by docker run -it --rm -v my-volume:/data busybox and you will be able to verify that your data is not lost.

Automatic Creation of Volumes

Creation of a volume is not required before using it. If the volume does not already exist, it will be created when a volume mapping is done. The following example uses this approach

Serving an Application from a Tomcat Container using Volumes

Imagine we have a sample.war file we want to deploy to Tomcat, and we want our application to live on a volume and Tomcat to run in a container. Here is a possible approach to achieve this.

Start a busybox container as follows, where a volume named mywar is mapped to the /war folder in the container. Also a bind mount mapping is done from the host system so we can copy the sample.war file to /war directory, hence to the mywar volume.

docker run --rm -it -v /Users/kt/warfile:/warfile -v mywar:/war busybox
cp /warfile/sample.war /war

Now that we have our war file in mywar volume, start Tomcat:

docker run \
  -p 8080:8080 \
  -it --rm \
  -v mywar:/usr/local/tomcat/webapps \

What is important in this example is, we are overriding a folder in the Tomcat container with a volume. Application will be available at localhost:8080/sample.

Anonymous Volumes

If different containers use volumes with same names, a volume conflict and unwanted behaviour will be witnessed. This conflict can be solved by using anonymous volumes. When a volume is created without a specific name, a volume will be created with a unique id.

docker volume create
# 98a5edfe209b4a1c04e2a768f2db50263294e0c49862d98b0bf1e4c8ea970c1a

Anonymous volumes can be shared between containers using --volumes-from. The following starts a busybox container with an anonymous volume mapped to /shared folder within the container.

docker run --name busy-box-one -v /shared -it --rm busybox

For another busybox to share the same anonymous volume, the second container can be started as follows:

docker run --name busy-box-two --volumes-from busy-box-one -it --rm busybox

Cleaning Up Volumes

Anonymous volumes are automatically deleted when the container they were created for are automatically cleaned up. Unlike anonymous volumes, named volumes must always be deleted manually. The following commands come to help when removing volumes:

docker volume rm my-volume
docker volume prune

Using the VOLUME Instruction in Dockerfile

The VOLUME instruction does not do much by itself, and it is questionable how useful it is. See this, this and this answers for further information.

Volume vs Mount

-v will create a directory on the host if it does not exist, where as --mount will generate an error if the directory being mounted does not already exist.


Docker Enginer by default creates the networks bridge, host and none. When Docker spins up a new container, by default the container is attached to the bridge network.

host mode only works on Linux and the container shares the hosts IP address. A container running in none network cannot communicate with the external word.

Bridge Network

The default bridge network is very simple and useful for development purposes. In this mode, all containers and the host can talk to one another however there is no connection between containers on different bridge networks.

Start a busybox container and inspect it:

# Map port 5000 on host to port 6000 on busybox
docker run -it -p 5000:6000 --rm --name=my-bb busybox
docker inspect my-bb

With some noise removed, portion of the returned information will be as follows:

"NetworkSettings": {
    "Bridge": "",
    "Ports": {
        "6000/tcp": [
                "HostIp": "",
                "HostPort": "5000"
    "Gateway": "",
    "IPAddress": "",
    "IPPrefixLen": 16,
    "Networks": {
        "bridge": {
            "Gateway": "",
            "IPAddress": "",
            "IPPrefixLen": 16,

Host to Container Connection

When busybox is listening on port 6000 with nc -l -p 6000, host can connect to the container by telnet localhost 5000. Using the containers IP address, telnet 5000 does not work.

Container to Host Connection

The container can connect to the host by using the the hosts IP address. Assume the host has the local IP address and is listening on port 8000 with nc -l -p 8000. In this case container can connect to the host by telnet 8000.

Container to Container Connection

If we spin up yet another busybox container, the two containers can communicate with each other by directly using the IP addresses. Given the second container has the IP address: and listening on port 7000 with: nc -l -p 7000, the first container can simply connect with telnet 7000.

Communication Between Containers via Name Resolution

When containers are deployed to same network, except the default bridge network, they can communicate with each other using the container names.

Python - Redis Container Communication Example

Given the following simple python file:

import time
import redis
from flask import Flask

app = Flask(__name__)
cache = redis.Redis(host='redis', port=6379)

def get_hit_count():
    return cache.incr('hits')

def hello():
    count = get_hit_count()
    return "Visit count: {}".format(count)

if __name__ == "__main__":"", debug=True)

and having flask as the only dependency in requirements.txt and the following Dockerfile:

FROM python:3.4-alpine
ADD . /code
RUN pip install -r requirements.txt
CMD ["python", ""]

Build an image named a-python-app with

docker build -t a-python-app .

Now, if we start a redis image and this python application as follows..

docker run --rm -d --name=redis redis
docker run --rm -d -p 5000:5000 --name=a-python-app a-python-app

..when we visit localhost:5000, we will see an error saying:

connecting to redis:6379. Name does not resolve.

For Docker containers to be able to resolve each other with name, they need to be on a network defined by us. Creating a network with docker network create my-network and starting the images with the following commands will allow a-python-app to be able to connect to the redis container using the containers name as the host name:

docker run --rm -d --name=redis --network=my-network redis
docker run --rm -d -p 5000:5000 \
  --name=a-python-app --network=my-network a-python-app

Visiting localhost:5000 should now print the visit counts properly.

docker network create
docker network connect
docker network disconnect
docker network inspect
docker network ls
docker network rm

Docker Compose

Docker Compose is a tool for defining and running multiple containers. See Overview of Docker Compose for more details.

Hello World Example

The following docker-compose.yml file can be used by Docker Compose to start multiple nginx servers:

version: "3.7"
    image: nginx
      - 8080:80
    image: nginx
      - 8090:80

Starting containers can be achieved via docker-compose up (-d for deamon). When the containers above is running, docker-compose images will print something akin to:

             Container                 Repository    Tag     Id      Size 
my-docker-compose_back-end-server_1    nginx        latest   6d63   120 MB
my-docker-compose_front-end-server_1   nginx        latest   6d63   120 MB

docker-compose stop will stop multiple containers, and docker-compose down will stop and remove all the containers.

Docker Compose and Network

Containers started with Docker Compose will be on the same network, and it will not be the default network. A network by Docker Compose will be created when docker-compose up is called. This means, containers started with Docker Compose will be able to talk to each other via container names, since container names will be resolved as host names.

For further information, see Networking in Compose.


Hello World

  1. Pull the image from Docker Hub using docker pull hello-world
  2. Run the image using docker run --rm hello-world
docker pull hello-world
# Using default tag: latest
# latest: Pulling from library/hello-world

docker run --rm hello-world
# Hello from Docker!
# This message shows that your installation appears to be working correctly.
# To try something more ambitious, you can run an Ubuntu container with:
#  $ docker run -it ubuntu bash

Java Hello World

This example demonstrates compiling the source file in image creation time and executing the java program in container launch.

class HelloWorld {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("Hello World");
class Goodbye {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
FROM openjdk:8
WORKDIR /helloworld
RUN javac
RUN javac
CMD java HelloWorld


docker build -t java-helloworld .  # Build the image
docker run --rm java-helloworld    # Run the container

CMD java HelloWorld can be overridden in container launch time as follows:

docker build -t java-helloworld .              # Build the image
docker run --rm java-helloworld java Goodbye   # Override CMD

nginx on a Random Port

docker run -d -P nginx # Run in detached mode, expose ports randomly

# Find the exposed port
docker container port f53
# 80/tcp ->

# Connect using telnet
telnet localhost 32772
# Trying ::1...
# Connected to localhost.
# Escape character is '^]'.
GET / HTTP/1.1
HOST: localhost

# HTTP/1.1 200 OK
# <!DOCTYPE html>
# <html>
# <head>
# <title>Welcome to nginx!</title>
# ..


docker run -it --rm ubuntu:16.04

docker run -it --rm ubuntu:16.04 /bin/bash also works and the why is explained here.


The sequence of CTRL+P followed by CTRL+Q will detach the user from the running container. Ubuntu will still be running and the container will continue to run.


Attaching back to the container can be accomplished by docker attach container-id.

Running Ubuntu in Background

Trying to run ubuntu with docker run -d ubuntu hoping the container will not immediately stop will not work. The correct way to achieve this is explained here.

Testing Java Applications Against Various JREs in Containers

Java is supposed to be compile once, run anywhere but sometimes it is just not the case and you might end up needing to run your application against a specific JRE. This can easily be achieved by using Docker.

  1. Download the JRE version you want to verify your application against from Oracle ‘s download page to a folder you will share with the container. For me it will be /app. Stick to a 64-bit linux tar option.
  2. Put your jar file to /app as well.
  3. Start ubuntu in a container with docker run --rm -it -v /app:/app -v ubuntu:16.04.
  4. Inside the container go to /usr/java, create it if it does not exist.
  5. Copy the tar file you downloaded with cp /app/jre-xxx-linux-x64.tar.gz ..
  6. Extract it tar zxvf jre-8u45-linux-x64.tar.gz.
  7. Fix the version and execute export JAVA_HOME=/usr/java/jre1.8.0_45.
  8. Execute export PATH=${PATH}:${JAVA_HOME}/bin.
  9. Navigate to app via cd /app and execute your program with java ...

Using ffmpeg in a Container

docker run --rm \
    --mount type=bind,source=$(PWD),target=/tmp 
    jrottenberg/ffmpeg -i /tmp/ /tmp/a.mp4

Using Git in a Container

Build an image that will allow us to run git making use of the following Dockerfile by running the command: docker image build -t alpine-git ..

FROM alpine:3.10
RUN apk add --no-cache git

Cloning and updating a git repository using the container:

docker container run --rm -w /tmp -v \
    $PWD:/tmp alpine-git git clone
docker container run --rm -w /tmp/glw -v \
    $PWD:/tmp alpine-git git pull

Instead of changing the working directory, multiple commands can be used as follows:

docker container run --rm -v $PWD:/tmp alpine-git /bin/sh -c 
    \ "cd tmp; git clone"
docker container run --rm -v $PWD:/tmp alpine-git /bin/sh -c 
    \ "cd tmp/glw; git pull"

Random Notes

Operating System of a Running Container

more /etc/os-release can be used to print what operating system the container is using. For example, for gcc:

PRETTY_NAME="Debian GNU/Linux 10 (buster)"
NAME="Debian GNU/Linux"
VERSION="10 (buster)"

Container to Host Connection

host.docker.internal <port-number> can be used to connect to the host machine within a container.