Adam LaCombe

Adam LaCombe

Web Developer

Introduction to Docker

Introduction to Docker

What is Docker?

Docker allows developers to run their applications in a predefined environment. Have you ever heard the phrase It works on my machine?

It works on my machine

Well, no more! You can write a Dockerfile that packages up all the dependencies and configurations someone might need to run your application.

Docker is open-source software so anyone can contribute to its development.


Here are a few terms along with my definition. You can find a more detailed glossary on Docker docs.


A text file that contains all the commands/instructions to build an image. You can think of this as a template.


The result of building a Dockerfile (docker build -t my_image_name .). You can think of this as your compiled template.


An instance of an image (docker run --name my_instance my_image_name)


The command that's run within the container once the container starts.


Directory on your host machine that can be mapped to a location within your container (docker run --name my_instance -v /home/adam/my-project:/var/www/html my_image_name)

Installing Docker

Instead of walking you through the installation steps for each operating system, I'll refer you to the official Docker documentation:

Getting started

Now that you have Docker installed on your host machine you can start creating containers!

Let's run an instance of hello-world:

docker run hello-world

Run hello-world

Creating an image

The purpose of this image will be to run a simple Apache server.

To create an image you'll need to write a Dockerfile, to do that make a new file, and name it Dockerfile (no file extension).

FROM ubuntu:latest

RUN apt-get update && DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive apt-get -y install apache2


CMD /usr/sbin/apache2ctl -D FOREGROUND

Now run the following command to build your image:

docker build -t simple-apache-server .

You should see the following output:

build simple-apache-server

Running a container

Now that you've built an image, let's run an instance of it.

docker run -d --name my-apache-container -p 3338:80 simple-apache-server

Navigate to localhost:3338 in your browser and you should see the default apache page!

default Apache page

An explanation of the different arguments used in the command above:

  • -d will run the container in the background and print its container ID.
  • -p will publish the container's port to the host. HOST_PORT:CONTAINER_PORT
  • --name lets you assign a name to the container.

Helpful commands

List the images you've built

docker images

List running containers

docker ps

List all containers (running and stopped)

docker ps -a

Remove a container


Stop a container

docker stop CONTAINER_NAME

Start a container

docker start CONTAINER_NAME

"bash into" a running container

docker exec -it CONTAINER_NAME bash