5 Practical Uses of Docker Containers

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

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

Why Use Docker?

Docker is a powerful technology that has greatly transformed the DevOps industry and IT in general. It is easy to set up and is secure and robust. Plus, 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 OS for you to get started. Let’s look at some practical use cases for Docker.

1. Deploying Software

The advantage of deploying applications in Docker containers is that all configurations and dependencies are packed within 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 the server or PC has Docker installed.

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

Docker Hub contains a ton of public images for most mainstream applications such as Apache server or Nginx which you can use.

2. Running Lightweight Linux Distros

linux docker images on docker hub

As highlighted earlier, Docker containers are similar to virtual machines but much more lightweight. This allows you to use Linux Docker images instead of full-blown virtual machines in most cases.

Docker Hub contains a lot of Docker images for most of the mainstream Linux distros. Linux Docker images come with only the basic requirements of an OS. The 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 destroy. And whatever happens on the container will not affect your host operating system.

3. Hosting Servers

Much as Docker containers are very lightweight, they are robust enough to be used for hosting server utilities.

You can use Docker containers as web servers or as file servers. Nginx Docker containers are also widely used for creating 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 via a tunnel.

4. Creating Custom Linux Images

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

Take, for example, the Ubuntu Image. You can install all sorts of network security utilities, and penetration tools and create your own security testing 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 most challenging things in software development, especially for complex projects, is to set up or create development environments.

Some development environments are so complex and require lots of dependencies and configuration. With Docker, you can package all these in a single image and easily share them with your development team.

You can also use Docker to simulate or run other software environments. This saves you time by sparing developers the need to install software and other configurations. All they need to do is run a pre-configured 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 best of all it is easy to set up.

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

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