Networking

How to install and use Dockstation for easy container builds

Docker containers can be made incredibly easy with a user-friendly GUI. Jack Wallen walks you through the process of installing one such GUI, Dockstation, to help you with container management.

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Image: Jack Wallen

If you're new to Docker, you might be looking for a powerful GUI to use for managing your images and containers. The good news is that there are a few solid entries in the field. But if you're looking for a cross-platform, desktop GUI, one of your best choices is Dockstation. This particular GUI runs on Linux, macOS, and Windows, and makes managing Docker containers quite easy.

I'm going to show you how to install Dockstation on Ubuntu 17.10. If you use a different OS, the installation process will vary. Once installed, usage of the tool is the same, regardless of platform.

With Dockstation installed, you can:

  • Work with services and containers
  • Work with remote docker containers
  • Download images from Docker Hub
  • Monitor container stats
  • Create projects

Let's get Dockstation installed and then deploy a container.

Installation

Before we install Dockstation, we must first take care of a couple of dependencies. Open up a terminal window and issue the following commands:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade
sudo apt install docker.io docker-compose

Do note: Should the upgrade process upgrade the kernel, you'll need to restart the server. Because of this, you might want to schedule this for a time that allows for a reboot.

Once you've installed the dependencies, add the user that will be running Dockstation to the docker group with the command:

sudo usermod -aG docker $USER

After running that command, log out and log back in.

Now it's time to install Dockstation. Head over to the Dockstation official page and download the .deb file for Ubuntu/Debian v1.3.0. With that file saved in ~/Downloads, go back to your terminal window and issue the command cd ~/Downloads. From within that directory, issue the command sudo dpkg -i dockstation*.deb. This will install the software, but will error out. When the bash prompt returns, issue the command sudo apt install -f. That command will fix the remaining dependency issues. You're ready to use Dockstation.

Usage

Open your desktop menu and run Dockstation. When the window opens click the New Project button. This will open a window, where you can fill in the necessary information for the project (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

The Create a new project window.

This is not where you create a container. You will create a project, where you can then create a container. So give the project a name, set the project path (one path per project, so no reusing paths), select the compose file version (select the most recent release), and then click CREATE.

At this point, you will be given a list of images to be found on Docker Hub. If you don't see the image you want, type the image name in the Search images field (Figure B) and hit Enter on your keyboard.

Figure B

Figure B

Locating an image for your container.

Say you want to deploy the ever-popular NGINX container. Type nginx in the search field and press Enter. You'll see a listing of NGINX images. Click and drag the official image from the listing to the right pane of the Dockstation window. This will download the image to your server and open the General working tab, so you can deploy the container (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

The General working tab for our container.

You can either now deploy the container (which will use the default container settings), or click on the Settings tab (Figure D) and configure the new container to meet your needs.

Figure D

Figure D

The container Settings window.

After you've configured the container, click on the Start button and the new container will deploy. In the case of NGINX, you can then point a browser to the IP address of your Docker host to see the web server is up and running.

Congratulations, you've just deployed a Docker container with the user-friendly Dockstation.

No need to be put-off

With solid GUIs like Dockstation, there's no reason to be put-off from making containers a part of your every-day IT routine. Give this app a try and see if it doesn't place the management of containers within the grasp of all your IT staff.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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