Being a beginner and trying to figure out “What’s Docker”? Well, this blog takes you through a complete introduction to Docker, its command directory and how to host a simple static HTML page using docker. Before we go on and host a static HTML page lets’ get a little background knowledge about Docker, the problems it solves and then coming to the main topic.
Recently there’s a lot of buzz about Docker and its Containerization features and benefits when it comes to hosting and deploying a solution from any platform. So, what is it?
“Docker is a containerization technology that helps you ship your product/software along with its related dependencies”
It’s quite hard to understand Docker, Containerization and their usability. Before we go and take a deep dive into it, let’s talk about how we have been doing things earlier when docker wasn’t here.
For an instance, if you want to ship your product on a server (be it Dev, Staging, UAT or Live). The earlier approach followed a shipment of binaries associated with the software to the relevant person in the OPS team. Then the person from the OPS team carries out a deployment. Later when tested, he finds bugs or problems with the release. The developer argues that “The same was working on my computer, how the hell it isn’t working on the server?” This situation redirects to “I did wrong” and “You did wrong” blame games. Here the problem is not with the person rather it’s more related to the deployment process.
Recently, the processes have been changed, Now, we come across CI/CD tools for different technologies which help us to automate the process at some point but still there is one specific problem which is the underlying dependencies for the software which can’t be coupled with your deployment package.
Think of this, when you deploy an ASP.NET application that is targeted to v3.5, the developer expects that it is installed on a server, but the details are not known to the OPS team. So, you create a Virtual Machine, add all your dependencies into that and then ship your product. The key challenge is that a Virtual Machine is of large size which is not that easy to transfer from one machine to another. Also, the Virtual Machine is carrying a lot of unwanted overhead. We simply want our product and dependencies to be shipped in one package so that our product will work everywhere (so that I can make a person from the test team my friend.)
That’s the problem that docker solves.
“Docker allows users to package an application with all of its dependencies into a standardized unit for software development”.
And that’s the problem that docker solves. “Docker allows users to package an application with all of its dependencies into a standardized unit for software development”.
The below image depicts Docker architecture.
Let’s go through each component one by one:
- Images – As it implies in general terms, image is a stamp of something. In the context of docker, it’s a stamp of your software package plus dependencies. Different vendors publish their images (we’ll see where, for now, assume they publish somewhere) based on a framework for example ‘Microsoft/dotnet’ is an official image for .NET code and ASP.NET code application. Similarly, ‘Microsoft/dotnet-framework’ is an official image for .NET Framework-based application. So, here two types of images exist:
- Root Images: Theses are ready maid images published by different providers such as Microsoft or Node.
- User/Developer Images: When you develop your application and want to ship your product/software as a docker image, you use those root image (based on your need), add your software package and other dependencies into that and then build your own image.
- Container – Container is the component in docker architecture which is responsible for hosting your image and running your application.
- DAEMON – Docker daemon is responsible for making your container run. It’s also responsible for the deployment of your image into a container. Ideally, in case of VM, you yourself do RDP into VM guest OS. Since a Docker image doesn’t contain anything related to guest OS, we need something that carry out operations on the user’s behalf. So, think of a Daemon is a background running service that takes command from a user and executes at appropriate places.
- Docker CLI or Remote API – We discussed that a Daemon accepts the command and then performs some operation at an appropriate place but we didn’t mention where to write these commands. So, Docker CLI is the place where you execute those commands. Remote API is an HTTP API that allows you to execute different commands for automation. You can get the reference of APIs from here –https://docs.docker.com/engine/api/v1.24/#1-brief-introduction
- Registry – Let’s assume that you prepared your image and then you want to deploy this to some server. How do you share this with your ops team or how do you take it to your new server? You can, of course, copy your image and paste there but what if you have a central place where all images are saved? When you’re in need, just execute one simple command and you’ll have an image on that machine. Cool right? Without any hassle of copying and pasting. That’s where the registry comes into the picture. Once you think that your image is ready to ship, you register your image into registry and then push it into the registry to save there. Whenever you need it, you just pull it. Docker Hub and Azure Container Registry are examples of such registry providers.Till now we have covered a lot about Docker internal, now it’s time to explore the docker by hosting a simple static HTML page (I’m going to host that on IIS). If you haven’t installed Docker, go through this guideline and do that first.
Let the fun begin.
- Create a directory, name if “PlainHtml”
- Inside this directory, Create a simple HTML page, name it ‘index.html’. Add H1 tag with “Hello World to Docker”.
- Create a directory named “Dockerfile” and then navigate into that.
- Create a file named ‘Dockerfile’ (remember with no extension).
- Open Dockerfile in your favorite text editor and add following code inside it
Let’s understand each line one by one –
1. FROM…….: It says, to use this root image ‘Microsoft/iis’ as my root image. You can also specify the version of image (remember not iis) followed by ‘:’ like microsoft/iis:version
2. RUN ….. : is a CLI command that will be executed. Here is says run Powershell with no profile set and remove all items those are under wwwroot directory.
3. WORKDIR ….. is to set the current working directory
4. COPY is to copy files/directories from local machine into your image. The first argument is the path to local machine and second is to target image (rather inside an image).
5. Start command prompt and navigate to root directory where you created html file.
6. Then run command ‘docker build -t staticpage:1.0 Dockerfile’.
a. Here, ‘build’ command is used to build your image.
b. ‘-t’ is option to set image name which in this case “static page” and version “1.0”.
c. Dockerfile is config file that says Daemon to how to build the image.
You can see in below image, it says … sending context to docker daemon….Then daemon starts downloading image (FYI it’s huge, don’t try on mobile internet)
Full list of build command can be seen here https://docs.docker.com/engine/reference/commandline/image_build/
7. Run this command to run your docker image
docker run -d -p 8000:8000 –name static page-website static page
- ‘run’ is a command that runs your docker image in a container.
- ‘-d’ is very important option that detaches your process from command prompt. “What does this mean?” say if you don’t specify ‘-d’ and then you press Ctrl + C or you close command prompt then docker daemon will stop running your website as well.
- ‘-p’ is published port which says 8000 (left to ‘:’) is my machine port and 8000 (right to ‘:’) is port inside my container. It’s kind of port forwarding between my local machine and container port.
- ‘-name’ is name of my container. I named it “static page-website”
- ‘static page’ is image name that I want to run in this container.
That’s it. You have your simple HTML page up and running!
Few commands that may help you troubleshoot in case –
- docker container ls -a: This lists all containers. It doesn’t matter their status.
- docker container rm <name>: This removes the container from the list. This is helpful if you want to use the same container again and again.
- docker container stop <name>: Stops a container from running
- docker container inspect <name>: Lists container information in a JSON format.
- docker container exec -it <name> <command>: Runs a command in running container in interactive mode. For ex. ‘docker container exec it static page-website cmd’ will run the command prompt in interactive mode. Any cmd command you write thereafter would be executed with-in the docker context.
Frequently asked questions by a beginner:
1. What benefits does docker brings?
a) Smooth deployment process
b) It can be deployed anywhere without worrying about dependencies
c) Flexibility and lightweight of Container
d) They are scalable (depends on application architecture).
2. Can I use this for only Web apps?
No, Docker is a deployment tool and has nothing to do with technology stack. You can use it for anything such as running an application such as desktop or web app.
3. How does my development experience change?
A little if you are trying to run your application through docker during the development. The recommendation is, develop your application the way you have been doing. Use Docker to just create and deploy application. Don’t use it during development process.
4. If Docker has no effect on my development process, what it changes then?
It changes how you architect your application. Deploying your monolithic application using docker is possible but it doesn’t bring many advantages. Don’t try to fit technology into your business requirements. Let business requirements speak out that they need docker (i.e. highly scalable, independent and portable deployments).
In this blog, we understand the detailed insights and components offered by Docker. We also discussed the practical application, developed and deployed a simple HTML page using Docker. In the recent stack overflow survey Docker has been ranked as the first choice for deploying software products among developers and cloud management experts. With the current Docker functionalities you can deploy your software on any platform without worrying about if the solution is compatible to the given machine or not. Using Docker streamlines your cloud management strategy and makes you software solutions highly available across all platforms.
If you still pertain questions and need clarification DEV IT Advisory is always up and ready to provide its IT experts on Docker service deployments. Connect with us and explore all the Docker possibilities on deploying your software products.
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