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Docker Introduction

(Usage hints for this presentation)

VM Neuland im Internet 2021
Dr. Jens Lechtenbörger (License Information)

1 Introduction

1.1 Motivation (1/2)

  • Virtualization software provides virtual hardware

    Layering with virtualization

    • Virtualization implemented by piece of software called Hypervisor/VMM
      • VMM runs on (usual) host OS, translates access to real hardware
    • Virtual hardware can have arbitrary features
      • Largely independent of real hardware, say, ten network cards
    • On top of virtual hardware, install operating systems (guests) and other software to create virtual machines (VMs)
      • Share resources of powerful server machine among several VMs
        • E.g., your “own” server as VM in a project seminar
      • Use VM as blueprint to share reliable environment with others
        • Or to fire up lots of identical VMs for compute-intensive tasks with cloud computing

1.2 Motivation (2/2)

  • Containerization (e.g., with Docker) as lightweight variant of virtualization

    Layering with containerization

    • No virtual hardware, but shared OS kernel
    • Use containers to execute software (versions) in controlled way
      • Think of larger application that uses external libraries
      • Libraries evolve, may introduce incompatible changes over time
        • Specific version of application depends on specific versions of libraries
        • Container bundles “correct” versions

1.3 Learning Objectives

  • Explain definitions of virtual machine and virtual machine monitor
  • Explain and contrast virtualization and containerization
    • Including isolation
    • Including layering
  • Use Docker for simple tasks
    • E.g., start Web/Solid server with static files
    • Interpret and modify simple docker files

1.4 Core Questions

  • What do virtualization and containerization mean?
  • How to deploy potentially complex software in a reproducible fashion?

2 Virtualization

2.1 History (1/2)

  • Virtualization is an old concept
    • IBM mainframes, 1960s
    • Frequently cited survey article by Goldberg, 1974: [Gol74]
    • Original motivation
      • Resources of expensive mainframes better utilized with multiple VMs
      • Ability to run different OS versions in parallel, backwards compatibility
  • 1980s, 1990s
    • Modern multitasking OSs on cheap hardware
      • Cheap hardware did not offer virtualization support
      • Little use of virtualization

2.2 History (2/2)

  • Ca. 2005
    • PC success becomes problematic
      • How to limit energy usage and management overhead of fleets of PCs in data centers?
    • One answer: Use virtualization for server consolidation
      • Turn independent servers into VMs, then allocate them to single server
        • Servers often with low resource utilization (e.g., CPU usage between 10% and 50% at Google in 2007, [BH07])
        • Consolidated server with improved resource utilization
    • Additional answer: Virtualization reduces management, testing, and deployment overhead, see [Vog08] for Amazon
    • Virtualization as enabler for cloud computing
  • [SPF+07]: Containers for lightweight virtualization
  • [CIM+19]: Serverless computing (beyond our scope)

2.3 Intuition and Examples

  • Virtualization: Creation of virtual/abstract version of something
  • Typical meaning: virtual machine (VM)
    • Virtual hardware
      • Several OSs share same underlying hardware
    • VMs isolated from each other

2.4 Definitions

  • Cited from [PG74] (bold face added)
    • “A virtual machine is taken to be an efficient, isolated duplicate of the real machine.”
    • Made precise with Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM)
      • “First, the VMM provides an environment for programs which is essentially identical with the original machine; second, programs run in this environment show at worst only minor decreases in speed; and last, the VMM is in complete control of system resources.”
        • Essentially identical: Programs with same results, maybe different timing
        • Speed: Most instructions executed directly by CPU with no VMM intervention
        • Control: (1) Virtualized programs restricted to resources allocated by VMM, (2) VMM can regain control over allocated resources
      • “A virtual machine is the environment created by the virtual machine monitor.”

2.5 Isolation

  • Isolation of VMs: Illusion of exclusive hardware use (despite sharing between VMs)
    • Related to “isolated duplicate” and “complete control” of [PG74]
  • Sub-types (see [SPF+07],[FFR+15])
    • Resource isolation: Fair allocation and scheduling
      • Reservation (e.g., number of CPU cores and amount of RAM) vs best-effort
    • Fault isolation: Buggy component should not affect others
    • Security isolation
      • Configuration independence (global names/settings do not conflict)
        • Applications with conflicting requirements for system-wide configuration
        • E.g., port 80 for Web servers, each application with own version of shared libraries
      • Safety (no access between VMs/containers)
      • Beware! Lots of security issues in practice

2.6 Layering with Virtualization

Layering with virtualization

2.6.1 Layering Explained

  • Hypervisor or virtual machine manager (VMM) with full access to physical hardware
    • Most privileged code
      • Details depend on CPU hardware
        • E.g., kernel mode (CPU ring 0) or additional “root mode” with more privileges than kernel mode
    • Create abstract versions of hardware, to be used by guest OSs
      • VM = Guest OS running on abstract hardware
      • Host = Environment in which the VMM runs
        • Host software may be full OS or specialized
  • Guest OS is de-privileged
    • No longer with full hardware access, e.g., CPU ring 1
    • Privileged/sensitive instructions lead to hypervisor
      • Executed, translated, or emulated accordingly
  • Each VM can run different OS
  • VM backups/snaphots simplify management, placement, parallelization
  • Sharing among applications in different VMs restricted, requires networking
    • (Neither shared memory nor file nor pipes)
  • Creation of more VMs with high overhead
    • Each with full OS, own portion of underlying hardware

2.7 Review Question

3 Containerization

3.1 Basics

  • Motivation: Trade isolation for efficiency (see [SPF+07])
    • Main idea of containerization: Share kernel among containers
      • (Instead of separate OS per VM)
  • Mechanisms
    • Add container ID to each process, add new access control checks to system calls
    • In case of Linux kernel

3.2 Layering with Containerization

Layering with containerization

3.3 Selected Technologies

  • Docker

    Docker logo

    Docker logo” under Docker Brand Guidelines; from Docker

    • Image describes OS/application environment: What software/configuration?
      • Registries publish images
      • Dockerfiles are build recipes for images in simple text format
    • Container is process (set), created from image (image is template for container)
  • Kubernetes

    Kubernetes logo

    Kubernetes logo” under Kubernetes Branding Guidelines; from GitHub

    • Cluster manager for Docker
      • Pod = group of containers sharing resources, unit of deployment
      • Pods can be replicated (copied) for scalability
      • Integrated load-balancer

3.3.1 On Images

  • With VMs, you could install software as in any other OS
    • Getting messy over time
  • With Docker, images are defined via Dockerfiles
    • Explicitly listing necessary pieces and dependencies
    • Enforcing order and reproducibility
    • Sample dockerfile (used in the past to generate reveal.js presentations and PDF from org files):
FROM ubuntu
LABEL maintainer="Jens Lechtenbörger"
RUN apt-get update && apt-get --no-install-recommends install -y \
    ca-certificates emacs git \
    texlive-bibtex-extra texlive-fonts-recommended texlive-generic-recommended \
    texlive-latex-base texlive-latex-extra texlive-latex-recommended
COPY manage-packages.el /tmp/

3.4 Review Question

4 Docker

4.1 Docker Installation

  • Community Edition of Docker available for different OSs
  • Install on one of your machines, ideally on one that you can bring to (or access in) class
    • Your installation may come with a graphical user interface (GUI), which you do not need
      • Some students perceive the GUI to be confusing
      • Use command line instead to enter commands shown subsequently (any terminal should work, maybe try Bash)

4.2 First Steps

  • Run hello-world as instructed in Get Started
    • In case of problems, please ask in the forum
  • List your images and containers
    • docker image ls
    • docker container ls -all
      • Help is available, e.g.:
        • docker container --help
        • docker container ls --help
  • Maybe delete image and container
    • docker rmi -f hello-world

4.3 A Web Server

  • Run nginx
    • docker run -p 8080:80 nginx
      • -p: Web server listens on port 80 in container; bind to port 8080 on host
      • Maybe add option --name my-nginx: Assign name to container for subsequent use
        • E.g., docker stop/start/logs/rm my-nginx
  • Serve own HTML files
    • Add option -v in above docker run ... (before nginx)
      • Mount (make available) directory from host in container
        • E.g.: -v /host-directory/with/html-files:/usr/share/nginx/html
        • /usr/share/nginx/html is where nginx expects HTML files, in particular index.html
        • Thus, your HTML files replace default ones of nginx

4.3.1 Selected Errors

  • Error message: name in use already
    • You cannot use the same name multiple times with docker run --name ...
    • Instead: docker start my-nginx
  • Error message: port is allocated already
    • You cannot use option -p with same port in several docker run invocations
      • Other container still running, stop first
        • docker ps: Note ID or name
        • docker stop <ID-or-name>
        • docker run ...
      • (Or some other process uses that port. Kill process or choose different port.)

4.3.2 On Option -v

  • Say, you start nginx with option -v but your files do not appear
    • docker inspect <name-or-id-of-container>
      • Check output for binds, telling you what is mapped to /usr/share/nginx/html
        • May not meet your expectations
    • Are you on Windows?
      • Try -v C:\Users\... with Powershell
      • Try -v C:\\Users/... with Bash
      • Try -v /mnt/c/Users/... with WSL terminal

4.3.3 Docker Toolbox under Windows

  • (I do not recommend this in any way. Switch to GNU/Linux.)
  • Docker Toolbox installs a virtual machine, in which Docker runs
    • Initial output informs about
    • Paths under C:\Users can be mounted by default

5 Conclusions

5.1 Summary

  • Virtual virtual machines are efficient, isolated duplicates of the real machine
  • Containers are running processes, defined by images
    • Containers on one host share same OS kernel
  • Virtual machines and containers
    • can be contrasted in terms of their layering approaches
    • allow to deploy software in well-defined environments

5.2 Outlook

  • Containerization (in combination with version control such as offered by Git) is enabler of DevOps
    • DevOps = Combination of Development and Operations, see [JbA+16],[WFW+19]
      • Bridge gaps between teams and responsibilities
      • Aiming for rapid software release cycles with high degree of automation and stability
    • Trend in software engineering
      • Communication and collaboration, continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD)
      • Approach based on Git also called GitOps, see [Lim18]
        • Self-service IT with proposals in pull requests (PRs)
        • Infrastructure as Code (IaC)


  • [BH07] Barroso & Hölzle, The Case for Energy-Proportional Computing, Computer 40(12), 33-37 (2007).
  • [CIM+19] Castro, Ishakian, Muthusamy & Slominski, The Rise of Serverless Computing, Commun. ACM 62(12), 44-54 (2019).
  • [FFR+15] Felter, Ferreira, Rajamony & Rubio, An updated performance comparison of virtual machines and linux containers, in: Performance Analysis of Systems and Software (ISPASS), 2015 IEEE International Symposium On, 2015.
  • [Gol74] Goldberg, Survey of virtual machine research, Computer 7(6), 34-45 (1974).
  • [JbA+16] Jabbari, bin Ali, Petersen & Tanveer, What is DevOps? A Systematic Mapping Study on Definitions and Practices, in: Proceedings of the Scientific Workshop Proceedings of XP2016, 2016.
  • [Lim18] Limoncelli, GitOps: A Path to More Self-Service IT, Commun. ACM 61(9), 38-42 (2018).
  • [PG74] Popek & Goldberg, Formal Requirements for Virtualizable Third Generation Architectures, Commun. ACM 17(7), 412-421 (1974).
  • [SPF+07] Soltesz, Pötzl, Fiuczynski, Bavier & Peterson, Container-based operating system virtualization: a scalable, high-performance alternative to hypervisors, in: ACM SIGOPS Operating Systems Review, 2007.
  • [Vog08] Vogels, Beyond Server Consolidation: Server Consolidation Helps Companies Improve Resource Utilization, but Virtualization Can Help in Other Ways, Too., Queue 6(1), 20-26 (2008).
  • [WFW+19] Wiedemann, Forsgren, Wiesche, Gewald & Krcmar, Research for Practice: The DevOps Phenomenon, Commun. ACM 62(8), 44-49 (2019).

License Information

This document is part of a larger course. Source code and source files are available on GitLab under free licenses.

Except where otherwise noted, the work “Docker Introduction”, © 2018-2021 Jens Lechtenbörger, is published under the Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 4.0.