If you administer containers, chances are you’ve been on the lookout for a solid client tool to help with management tasks. One of the more popular GUI tools is Kitematic. With Kitematic, you can:

  • Search and pull images from Docker Hub
  • Create and run containers
  • Seamlessly switch between GUI or CLI
  • Map ports
  • Visually change environment variables
  • Configure volumes
  • Streamline logs
  • And more

For the longest time, Kitematic was only available for macOS. Now, however, support for Ubuntu Linux has been added. I’m going to show you how to install Kitematic on System 76’s own Pop!_OS (although the process will work on any Ubuntu derivative).

SEE: Vendor comparison: Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, and Google Cloud (Tech Pro Research)

The big caveat

I usually hold this for last, but this particular caveat can be a bit of a deal breaker for some users. Kitematic cannot connect to a remote machine running Docker. In other words, you have to install Kitematic on the machine deploying the containers. This, of course, runs a bit counter to the thinking of most Linux server admins, as it tends to run their servers sans GUI. But if you want to use Kitematic, you need to do so with a GUI.

Note to the Kitematic developers … make it possible to connect to a remote server!

What you need

In order to install Kitematic, you’ll need a running instance of Pop!_OS with a user who has sudo privileges. You’ll also need an account on DockerHub.


The installation of Kitematic is actually pretty simple. The first thing to do is download the zip file, which contains the .deb installer. Make sure to download the most recent file from the Kitematic Github download page.

Once you have that file on your computer, open your file manager, navigate to the Downloads folder, right-click the downloaded file, and select Extract Here. Once the file has extracted, double-click on the newly created folder, right-click on a blank spot in the file manager, and select Open in Terminal. When the terminal opens, issue the command:

sudo dpkg -i Kitematic*.deb

The above command will error out. That’s okay, because we can fix that. To resolve the problems, issue the command:

sudo apt-get install -f

This will pick up all the missed dependencies and finish up the installation.

Running Kitematic

In order to open Kitematic, you have to make sure Docker is configured properly. This means the user who runs Kitematic must be added to the docker group. If you’ve not done that, open a terminal window and issue the command:

sudo usermod -aG docker USER

where USER is the username in question.

Once you’ve done that, log out of the desktop and log back in. You should then be able to open Docker from the GNOME Dash. Once the app opens, log in with your DockerHub credentials (Figure A).

The app might take some time to load up all the images. When it does (Figure B), you are ready to go to work with one of the finest Docker client GUIs available.

Locate a container you want to deploy and click the associated CREATE button. Once the image downloads, it will automatically deploy. Click on the Settings tab, where you can configure the container to meet your needs (Figure C). Remember, if you make changes to the configuration, make sure to restart the container.

Congratulations, you now have an outstanding Docker GUI that can make the management of your containers a bit easier. Even though Kitematic can only work with containers on the localhost, it might well be worth installing a GUI on that Linux server.