Docker Machine to Setup Docker Host – Tech Tip #78

Running Docker containers typically involve three components:

  • Docker Client is a binary that accepts commands from the user and communicates back and forth with host
  • Docker Daemon runs on a host machine and does the heavy lifting of building, running, and distributing Docker containers
  • Docker Registry is SaaS platform for sharing and managing Docker images.Docker Hub is a public hub. Private registries can be easily setup as well, such as one by Artifactory. More on this in a subsequent blog.

Docker Client communicates with Daemon, either co-located on the same host, or on a different host. It requests the Daemon to pull an image from the repository using pull command. The Daemon then downloads the image from Docker Hub, or whatever registry is configured. Multiple images can be downloaded from the registry and installed on Daemon host.

Docker Architecture


In a typical development environment setup, Docker Client and Host/Daemon will be co-located on the same host machine. Even if they are on separate machines, it still require to login to the Host and setup Docker Daemon for that OS.

docker-logoDocker Machine takes you from zero-to-Docker on a host with a single command. This host could be your laptop, in the cloud, or in your data center. It creates servers, installs Docker on them, then configures the Docker client to talk to them.

This downloads the boot2docker VM, setup ssh keys, generate certificates, start the VM. It basically takes care of all the boring work so that you can focus on all the fun things.

This Tech Tip will show you to get started with Docker Machine and use it to setup Docker Host on Mac. It does not work on Windows yet because of

Lets get started!

Install Docker Machine

  1. Download the appropriate binary from Binary for Mac can be downloaded as:
  2. Verify the installation as:

Setup Mac Host using Docker Machine

  1. Docker Machine can be configured to use with multiple drivers, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine, Microsoft Azure, and Oracle VirtualBox. On a developer laptop, Virtual Box is a convenient option.Virtual Box 4.3.20 is the minimum requirement. So make sure you’ve the correct version installed.
  2. Create a Docker Host using VirtualBox provider and call the machine as “mydocker”.Make sure ssh-keygen is in the PATH before invoking this command. On Mac, this is already in /usr/bin/ssh-keygen. On Windows, this can be installed as part of Git Bash.This can be done as:

    This downloads boot2docker with the Docker daemon installed, and will create and start a VirtualBox VM with Docker running.
  3. Find IP address of the machine as:

    Note down this IP address, this will be used for accessing the application.
  4. Check the status of running machine as:

    The * in the ACTIVE column indicates this is an active host.
  5. Check the environment of newly created machine as:

Setup Docker client to Communicate

  1. Setup your client to talk to this host as:

Run Java Application on Host

  1. Run Java EE 7 Application discussed in Java EE 7 Hands-on Lab on WildFly and Docker on this host as:
  2. Access the application at and looks like:Docker Machine Output

Docker Machine Commands

Complete list of Docker Machine commands can be seen as:

Learn more about Docker Machine, Swarm, and Compose in this video:

Why would you use anything else other than Docker Machine to setup Docker host? How do you setup Docker Host otherwise?

Some useful references …


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