Docker Desktop is the official GUI for Docker container management. With this cross-platform tool, you can do just about anything you need to work with your deployments. The one caveat to Docker Desktop is that it only allows you to manage containers on the same host the app is installed on. If you want to use it to connect to a remote server, you’re out of luck.
However, I have found the web-based Portainer, which can connect to a remote environment, to be a bit more robust in features. With Portainer you can manage literally every single aspect of containers.
When I discovered it’s possible to add Portainer to Docker Desktop, I was thrilled. By adding Portainer to Docker Desktop, you extend the feature set to give the application more power, control and flexibility.
For anyone serious about managing your Docker containers with a GUI, it is very much worth your time to add Portainer to Docker Desktop, and I’m going to show you how.
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What you’ll need
The only thing you’ll need to make this work is a running instance of Docker Desktop. If you don’t already have that up and running, here’s a tutorial that will guide you through the process.
With that out of the way, let’s add Portainer.
How to install Portainer
The developers of Docker Desktop have made this incredibly easy, thanks to a handy Marketplace, where you can install Portainer and plenty of other extensions such as anchor, JFrog, Lens, Meshery, OpenShift, Snyk and more.
To install Portainer, open Docker Desktop. Once the app is up and running, click Add Extensions in the left navigation (Figure A).
Click install associated with Portainer and, when prompted, type your user password. The installation should complete fairly swiftly, and once it completes you’ll see Portainer listed in the left sidebar (Figure B).
Click the Portainer listing and then click Get Started (Figure C).
How to add a remote Docker connection
If your Docker server is running on the same machine you installed Docker Desktop, simply click Get Started to connect to that environment.
If, however, your Docker server is remote, click Add Environments. In the resulting window (Figure D), click the Docker tab.
Let’s say you want to name your environment Docker Swarm and the controller is at IP address 192.168.1.13. For that, you’d add
Docker Swarm as the name, and then, in the Environment URL space, type
Once you’ve done that, scroll down and click Add Environment (Figure E).
If you go back to the Portainer main window (Figure F), you should now see your remote environment added with all the statistics showing.
And that’s all there is to adding Portainer to Docker Desktop and connecting it to a remote environment. Enjoy that newfound power and flexibility thanks to Portainer.
How to learn more about Docker
If you want to learn more about Docker, don’t miss these resources in the TechRepublic Academy:
- Hacking and Securing Docker Containers
- The Linux & Docker Coding Bundle
- The Docker and Kubernetes Certification Training Bundle
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