Docker Basics

To get you warmed up today, we’re going to focus on the fundamentals of Docker and how to use it locally within one machine. Our example explains how you would use it within your AWS Cloud9 workspace, but the theory is translatable to other environments.

Before we start, ensure that our terminal is pointing to the environment folder

cd ~/environment/

Let’s start by running docker version to confirm that both the client and server don’t throw errors and the command returns.

docker version

Docker containers are built using images. Let’s run the command docker pull nginx:latest to pull down the latest nginx trusted image from Docker Hub.

docker pull nginx:latest

Now run docker images to verify that the image is now on your local machine’s Docker cache. If we start it then it won’t have to pull it down from Docker Hub first.

docker images

Now let’s try docker run -d -p 8080:80 --name nginx nginx:latest to instantiate the nginx image as a background daemon with port 8080 on the host forwarding through to port 80 within the container

docker run -d -p 8080:80 --name nginx nginx:latest

Run docker ps to see that our nginx container is running.

docker ps

We will now use the “curl” command to verify that the NGINX container is working and returning the default index.html file.

curl http://localhost:8080

Running docker logs nginx shows us the logs produced by nginx and the container. You should see some events that correspond to our curl requests.

docker logs nginx

Use docker exec -it nginx /bin/bash to start an interactive shell into the container’s filesystem and constraints

docker exec -it nginx /bin/bash

From within the container, run cd /usr/share/nginx/html and cat index.html to see the content the nginx is serving which is part of the container.

cd /usr/share/nginx/html
cat index.html

Type exit to exit our shell within the container.


Now run docker stop nginx to stop the container.

docker stop nginx

Try docker ps -a command and you should see that our container is still there but stopped. At this point it could be restarted with a docker start nginx if we wanted.

docker ps -a

To remove a container, use the docker rm nginx command.

docker rm nginx

Now you can use docker rmi nginx:latest to remove the nginx image from our machine’s local cache

docker rmi nginx:latest

It’s now time for some Git-Fu. Pull down this repo onto your workspace with git clone

git clone

Type cd docker-kube-intro-workshop to change directories into that project.

cd docker-kube-intro-workshop

Run cat Dockerfile to see our simple Dockerfile - this is just adding the local index.html to the container image overwriting the default.

cat Dockerfile

Use docker build -t nginx:1.0 . to build NGINX from our Dockerfile. The -t command directs the docker to package nginx with the name:tag format

docker build -t nginx:1.0 .

You can now use docker history nginx:1.0 to see all the steps and base containers that our nginx:1.0 is built on. Note that our change amounts to one new tiny layer on top.

docker history nginx:1.0

Type docker run -p 8080:80 --name nginx nginx:1.0 to run our new container. Note that we didn’t specify the -d to make it a daemon which means it holds control of our terminal and outputs the containers logs to there which can be handy in debugging.

docker run -p 8080:80 --name nginx nginx:1.0

Open another Terminal tab (Window -> New Terminal)

Run curl http://localhost:8080 in the other tab a few times and see our new content.

curl http://localhost:8080

Go back to the first tab and see the log lines sent right out to STDOUT.

We can now push our Docker image to Docker Hub or Amazon ECR - a private docker registry. We won’t worry about that yet though.

Type Ctrl-C to exit the log output. Note that the container has been stopped but is still there by running a docker ps.

docker ps -a

Use sudo docker inspect nginx to see details about our stopped container.

sudo docker inspect nginx

As we did earlier, use docker rm nginx to delete our container.

docker rm nginx

We are now going to attempt to mount some files from the host into the container, rather than embedding them in the image.

docker run -d -p 8080:80 -v ~/environment/docker-kube-intro-workshop/index.html:/usr/share/nginx/html/index.html:ro --name nginx nginx:latest

Now try a curl http://localhost:8080. Note that even though this is the upstream nginx image from Docker Hub our content is there.

curl http://localhost:8080

Edit the index.html file and add some more things.

Restart the container. It’ll remember all the command-line options we ran it with when starting it again.

docker stop nginx && docker start nginx

Try another curl http://localhost:8080 and note the immediate changes.

curl http://localhost:8080

Finally, run docker stop nginx and docker rm nginx to stop and remove our last container.

docker stop nginx && docker rm nginx