How To Install and Use Docker on CentOS 7

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  • Introduction

    Docker is an application that makes it simple and easy to run application processes in a container, which are like virtual machines, only more portable, more resource-friendly, and more dependent on the host operating system. For a detailed introduction to the different components of a Docker container, check out The Docker Ecosystem: An Introduction to Common Components.

    There are two methods for installing Docker on CentOS 7. One method involves installing it on an existing installation of the operating system. The other involves spinning up a server with a tool called Docker Machine that auto-installs Docker on it.

    In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to install and use it on an existing installation of CentOS 7.


    -64-bit CentOS 7 Droplet
    -Non-root user with sudo privileges. A CentOS 7 server set up using Initial Setup Guide for CentOS 7 explains how to set this up.

    Note: Docker requires a 64-bit version of CentOS 7 as well as a kernel version equal to or greater than 3.10. The default 64-bit CentOS 7 Droplet meets these requirements.

    All the commands in this tutorial should be run as a non-root user. If root access is required for the command, it will be preceded by sudo. Initial Setup Guide for CentOS 7 explains how to add users and give them sudo access.

    Step 1 — Installing Docker

    The Docker installation package available in the official CentOS 7 repository may not be the latest version. To get the latest and greatest version, install Docker from the official Docker repository. This section shows you how to do just that.

    But first, let’s update the package database:
    Now run this command. It will add the official Docker repository, download the latest version of Docker, and install it:

    curl -fsSL | sh

    After installation has completed, start the Docker daemon:

    sudo systemctl start docker

    Verify that it’s running:

    sudo systemctl status docker

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

    ● docker.service - Docker Application Container Engine
       Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/docker.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
       Active: active (running) since Sun 2016-05-01 06:53:52 CDT; 1 weeks 3 days ago
     Main PID: 749 (docker)

    Lastly, make sure it starts at every server reboot:

    sudo systemctl enable docker

    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 Docker Command Without Sudo (Optional)

    By default, running the docker command requires root privileges — that is, you have to prefix the command with sudo. It can also be run by a user in the docker group, which is automatically created during the installation of Docker. 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:

    docker: 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 $(whoami)

    You will need to log out of the Droplet and back in as the same user to enable this change.

    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 user group. If you choose not to, please prepend the commands with sudo.

    Step 3 — Using the Docker Command

    With Docker installed and working, now’s the time to become familiar with the command line utility. Using docker consists of passing it a chain of options and subcommands followed by arguments. The syntax takes this form:

    docker [option] [command] [arguments]

    To view all available subcommands, type:


    As of Docker 1.11.1, the complete list of available subcommands includes:

        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 or image
        kill      Kill a running container
        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
        pause     Pause all processes within a container
        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
        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 a running container
        tag       Tag an image into a repository
        top       Display the running processes of a container
        unpause   Unpause all processes within a container
        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

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

    docker docker-subcommand --help

    To view system-wide information, use:

    docker info

    Step 4 — Working with Docker Images

    Docker containers are run from Docker images. By default, it pulls these images from Docker Hub, a Docker registry managed by Docker, the company behind the Docker project. Anybody can build and host their Docker images on Docker Hub, so most applications and Linux distributions you’ll need to run Docker containers have images that are hosted on Docker Hub.

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

    docker run hello-world

    The output, which should include the following, should indicate that Docker in working correctly:

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

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

    docker search centos

    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:

    NAME                            DESCRIPTION                                     STARS     OFFICIAL   AUTOMATED
    centos                          The official build of CentOS.                   2224      [OK]       
    jdeathe/centos-ssh              CentOS-6 6.7 x86_64 / CentOS-7 7.2.1511 x8...   22                   [OK]
    jdeathe/centos-ssh-apache-php   CentOS-6 6.7 x86_64 / Apache / PHP / PHP M...   17                   [OK]
    million12/centos-supervisor     Base CentOS-7 with supervisord launcher, h...   11                   [OK]
    nimmis/java-centos              This is docker images of CentOS 7 with dif...   10                   [OK]
    torusware/speedus-centos        Always updated official CentOS docker imag...   8                    [OK]
    nickistre/centos-lamp           LAMP on centos setup                            3                    [OK]

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

    docker pull centos

    After an image has been downloaded, you may then run a container using the downloaded image with the run subcommand. 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:

    docker run centos

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

    docker images

    The output should look similar to the following:

    [secondary_lable Output]
    REPOSITORY          TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
    centos              latest              778a53015523        5 weeks ago         196.7 MB
    hello-world         latest              94df4f0ce8a4        2 weeks ago         967 B

    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.

    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, however, 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 CentOS. The combination of the -i and -t switches gives you interactive shell access into the container:

    docker run -it centos

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

    [[email protected] /]#

    Important: Note the container id in the command prompt. In the above example, it is 59839a1b7de2.

    Now you may run any command inside the container. For example, let’s install MariaDB server in the running container. No need to prefix any command with sudo, because you’re operating inside the container with root privileges:

    yum install mariadb-server

    Step 6 — 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 MariaDB server inside the CentOS container, you now have a container running off an image, but the container is different from the image you used to create it.

    To save the state of the container as a new image, first exit from it:


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

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

    For example:

    docker commit -m "added mariadb-server" -a "Sunday Ogwu-Chinuwa" 59839a1b7de2 finid/centos-mariadb

    Note: When you commit an image, the new image is saved locally, that is, on your computer. Later in this tutorial, you’ll learn how to push an image to a Docker registry like Docker Hub so that it may be assessed and used by you and others.

    After that operation has completed, listing the Docker images now on your computer should show the new image, as well as the old one that it was derived from:

    docker images

    The output should be of this sort:

    REPOSITORY             TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
    finid/centos-mariadb   latest              23390430ec73        6 seconds ago       424.6 MB
    centos                 latest              778a53015523        5 weeks ago         196.7 MB
    hello-world            latest              94df4f0ce8a4        2 weeks ago         967 B

    In the above example, centos-mariadb is the new image, which was derived from the existing CentOS image from Docker Hub. The size difference reflects the changes that were made. And in this example, the change was that MariaDB server was installed. So next time you need to run a container using CentOS with MariaDB server pre-installed, you can just use the new image. Images may also be built from what’s called a Dockerfile. But that’s a very involved process that’s well outside the scope of this article. We’ll explore that in a future article.

    Step 7 — Listing 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:

    CONTAINER ID        IMAGE               COMMAND             CREATED             STATUS              PORTS               NAMES
    f7c79cc556dd        centos              "/bin/bash"         3 hours ago         Up 3 hours                              silly_spence

    To view all containers — active and inactive, pass it the -a switch:

    docker ps -a

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

    docker ps -l

    Stopping a running or active container is as simple as typing:

    docker stop container-id

    The container-id can be found in the output from the docker ps command.

    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.

    This section shows you how to push a Docker image to Docker Hub.

    To create an account on Docker Hub, register at Docker Hub. Afterwards, to push your image, first log into Docker Hub. You’ll be prompted to authenticate:

    docker login -u docker-registry-username

    If you specified the correct password, authentication should succeed. Then you may push your own image using:

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

    It will take sometime to complete, and when completed, the output will be of this sort:

    The push refers to a repository []
    670194edfaf5: Pushed 
    5f70bf18a086: Mounted from library/centos 
    6a6c96337be1: Mounted from library/centos

    After pushing an image to a registry, it should be listed on your account’s dashboard, like that show in the image below.

    alt text

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

    The push refers to a repository []
    e3fbbfb44187: Preparing
    5f70bf18a086: Preparing
    a3b5c80a4eba: Preparing
    7f18b442972b: Preparing
    3ce512daaf78: Preparing
    7aae4540b42d: Waiting
    unauthorized: authentication required

    Log in, then repeat the push attempt.

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