Docker for Beginners: Hello, World!

Today I got started exploring Docker for the first time, using A Docker Tutorial for Beginners. Reclaim Cloud runs using Docker containers, and a few of us will be doing some research on it in the next month or so, so it seemed like a good thing to try.

Docker is, as I understand it, a system for running containers, which are a less resource-intensive alternative to virtual machines. You can spin up a container using a particular system, run it while you’re using it and pause it while you’re not, and interact with it through the command line.

I spent most of today messing around with the Docker Desktop interface, which I found extremely frustrating — the tutorial itself was lovely, but… essentially, I understand that documentation is usually aimed at the lowest common denominator, but today I wish they had aimed a bit lower. Specifically, nearly all of the features that the documentation offered instructed you to click on a button shaped like a tiny whale, which would open a pulldown menu of options that you could then choose from. It took me forty-five minutes and another person’s help to find the tiny whale, which turned out to have been placed not anywhere in the actual window of Docker Desktop, but in my menu bar at the very top of the page, where it could blend in neatly with my clock, my battery and my Wi-Fi indicator.

Today I worked up through the Hello, World! section of the tutorial, which got me through both how to set up Docker & Docker Desktop, and what some of the basic concepts and tools of Docker are. To the best of my understanding, Images are a bit like modules or applications – they tell Docker what any container modeled on that image will be capable of doing. Meanwhile, Containers are individual instances in which to run your programs.

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