Docker and Linux Containers
Docker is one of the most efficient way to create, deploy and run web applications by the use of software containers. This tool is used by developers to package a complete application along with its dependencies, libraries and customized settings.
By the use of Docker one can ensure that they eliminate the repetition of setting up environments, instead they can just focus on delivering a great application.
Developers using Docker don’t have to install and configure complex databases nor worry about switching between incompatible language toolchain versions. When an app is dockerized, that complexity is pushed into containers that are easily built, shared and run. Onboarding a co-worker to a new codebase no longer means hours spent installing software and explaining setup procedures. Code that ships with Docker files is simpler to work on: Dependencies are pulled as neatly packaged Docker images and anyone with Docker and an editor installed can build and debug the app in minutes.
In a way, Docker is a bit like a virtual machine. But unlike a virtual machine, rather than creating a whole virtual operating system, Docker allows applications to use the same Linux kernel as the system that they’re running on and only requires applications be shipped with things not already running on the host computer. This gives a significant performance boost and reduces the size of the application.
And importantly, Docker is open source. This means that anyone can contribute to Docker and extend it to meet their own needs if they need additional features that aren’t available out of the box.
Who is Docker for?
Docker is a tool that is designed to benefit both developers and system administrators, making it a part of many DevOps (developers + operations) toolchains. For developers, it means that they can focus on writing code without worrying about the system that it will ultimately be running on. It also allows them to get a head start by using one of thousands of programs already designed to run in a Docker container as a part of their application. For operations staff, Docker gives flexibility and potentially reduces the number of systems needed because of its small footprint and lower overhead.
Why to use Docker?
I think it’s the lightweight nature of Docker combined with the workflow. It’s fast, easy to use and a developer-centric DevOps-ish tool. Its mission is basically: make it easy to package and ship code. Developers want tools that abstract away a lot of the details of that process. They just want to see their code working. That leads to all sorts of conflicts with SysAdmins when code is shipped around and turns out not to work somewhere other than the developer’s environment. Docker turns to work around that by making your code as portable as possible and making that portability user friendly and simple.
How is Docker different from standard virtualization?
Docker is operating system level virtualization. Unlike hypervisor virtualization, where virtual machines run on physical hardware via an intermediation layer (“the hypervisor”), containers instead run user space on top of an operating system’s kernel. That makes them very lightweight and very fast.
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