5 practical uses of Docker containers

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Docker is an open source platform for deploying applications in bundled components called containers. At the very heart of most Docker containers is a lightweight Linux server running in a virtualized environment.


Are there practical use cases for Linux Docker containers? Let’s find out.


Why use Docker?

Docker is a powerful technology that has dramatically transformed the DevOps industry and IT in general. It is easy to set up and is secure and robust. Additionally, Docker images are self-contained and do not affect the host operating system.

Unlike virtual machines, Docker is relatively lightweight and contains only the basic requirements of an operating system to get you started. Let’s look at some practical use cases for Docker.

1. Software deployment

The advantage of deploying applications in Docker containers is that all configurations and dependencies are brought together in the container. This makes it easy to deploy and transfer applications without the need to configure the host PC or server. The only requirement is that Docker be installed on the server or PC.

You can deploy more complex applications using Kubernetes (K8s) or Docker Swarm for better resiliency and scaling capabilities.

Docker Hub has a ton of public images for most mainstream apps like Apache server or Nginx that you can use.

2. Running Lightweight Linux Distributions

linux docker images on docker hub

As pointed out earlier, Docker containers are similar to virtual machines but much lighter. This allows you to use Linux Docker images instead of full VMs in most cases.

Docker Hub contains many Docker images for most mainstream Linux distributions. Linux Docker images only come with the basic requirements of an operating system. Alpine Linux image, for example, is only about 3MB in size.

You can install software and make your own customizations to Docker containers just as you would on any Linux server. This provides a good learning platform for how Linux works under the hood.

Docker is an ideal testing environment because containers are easy to set up and easy to destroy. And anything that happens on the container won’t affect your host OS.

3. Hosting servers

Just as Docker containers are very lightweight, they are robust enough to be used to host server utilities.

You can use Docker containers as web servers or as file servers. Nginx Docker containers are also widely used to create reverse proxy servers.

You can use Docker containers to host and create your own virtual private network (VPN). A VPN essentially allows you to securely access your devices from anywhere through a tunnel.

4. Creating Custom Linux Images

Docker images are composed of layers of applications or services. The public images available on Docker Hub provide a good base from which you can build.

Take, for example, the Ubuntu image. You can install all kinds of network security utilities and penetration tools and create your own security test image. You can then make your image public or keep it private.

Docker images are very easy to customize, distribute and share. You can host your images on Docker Hub or use private repositories on Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Azure. Whatever your needs, you can easily create your own unique images to solve your problems.

5. Creating Development Environments

One of the hardest things in software development, especially for complex projects, is setting up or creating development environments.

Some development environments are so complex and require many dependencies and configurations. With Docker, you can bundle it all into a single image and easily share it with your development team.

You can also use Docker to simulate or run other software environments. It saves you time by sparing developers the need to install software and other setups. All they have to do is run a preconfigured Docker image.

Start using Docker Linux containers

Docker is a powerful technology that you can use for a wide range of tasks. It is robust, secure, lightweight and, above all, easy to install.

Start using Docker today and enjoy the benefits it offers. It will completely transform your workflow.

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