- Getting the sample code
- Before we continue...
- Installing the required tools
- Logging in to the IBM Cloud
- Using Docker images and containers on your machine
- Starting Docker
- Building a Docker image
- Running a Docker image on your machine
- Creating a Kubernetes cluster in the IBM Cloud
- Creating a Docker image in the IBM Cloud
- Configuring the
- Deploying a Docker image to your Kubernetes cluster
- Downloadable resources
- Related topics
Get started with Docker and Kubernetes
Learn how to use Docker containers and Kubernetes clusters, the building blocks of the next generation of DevOps
Docker and Kubernetes are two of the hottest technologies in the world of IT. This tutorial will get you up and running with both technologies in the IBM Cloud. Best of all, you can do everything here in your free IBM Cloud Lite account (see sidebar).
This tutorial will show you how to:
- Get the sample code and install the tools you'll need
- Build a Docker image and run it on your local machine
- Create a Kubernetes cluster in the IBM Cloud
- Create a Docker image in the IBM Cloud
- Deploy the Docker image to your Kubernetes cluster
Getting the sample code
To get started, clone the Github repo that contains the sample code. The
app you'll deploy is nothing more than a "Hello World" page combined with
Dockerfile that builds the app into a Docker image. The
sample code is at github.com/DougTidwell/dWTVSimpleContainerApp.
At the command line, type
to clone the repo, then change to the directory of the cloned repo
Now that you have the sample code installed on your machine, you're ready to install the tools you'll need as you take over the world of containers and clusters.
Before we continue...
By law, any article that discusses containers must include a picture of a container ship loaded down with ... well, containers. So here you go:
We hope you enjoyed this compulsory diversion.
Installing the required tools
Before you can run
docker build or do anything else with
Docker and Kubernetes, you'll need to install the tools for IBM Cloud,
Docker, and Kubernetes.
Installing the IBM Cloud tools
Go to console.bluemix.net/docs/cli/index.html#downloads and click the Download link to get the latest version of the IBM Cloud tools. Download the tools for your platform and run the installer.
Note: For historical reasons, the command to work with IBM
Cloud resources is
bluemix. You may be concerned that typing
seven whole characters for every command will be exhausting.
Worry not, friends: We've abbreviated the command to
You'll find this shortcut will save you hours of typing each day,
freeing you to spend more time with family and friends, re-devote yourself
to long-neglected hobbies, or perhaps take a second job to make ends meet.
The next step is to install Docker and its associated command-line tools. Go to docker.com and click the Get Docker link:
Download and install Docker Community Edition. Depending on your platform, you may get a message that you need to reboot your system before continuing. Wait until you've installed the Kubernetes tools before doing that.
Installing the Kubernetes tools
Although you won't use Kubernetes until later in this article, you might as
well install the
kubectl tool now. Go to kubernetes.io/docs/tasks/tools/install-kubectl/ and install
kubectl according to the instructions for your platform.
When you create a cluster in the IBM Cloud, you'll configure
kubectl to work with your cluster ... but there are a few
steps you'll need to go through first. For now, just install the command.
Logging in to the IBM Cloud
At this point, you should have all of the IBM Cloud, Docker, and Kubernetes
tools installed, and you've rebooted your machine if necessary. The next
step is to log in to your IBM Cloud account. At the command line, type
bx login to log in:
Once you've logged in to the IBM Cloud, you need to install the plugins for the IBM Container Service and the IBM Container Registry. Type the following commands:
bx plugin install container-service -r Bluemix
bx plugin install container-registry -r Bluemix
bx cr login
The first two commands install the plugins for the container service and
the container registry from the
Bluemix repository. The last
command logs you in to the container registry service. This lets you
access Docker images in the public registry of the IBM Cloud.
Using Docker images and containers on your machine
Now it's time to start building things. First, you need to start Docker on your machine. How you do that, of course, depends on your platform.
Double-click the desktop icon:
When Docker is up and running, you'll see a message in the lower right-hand corner of your desktop:
Click the desktop icon:
When Docker is up and running, clicking the Docker icon in the menu bar shows this comforting status message:
Starting Docker on Linux can vary from one distribution to another, but you'll typically run one of these two commands:
sudo systemctl start docker
sudo service docker start
If you're having trouble starting Docker on Linux, see the Docker documentation for more information.
Building a Docker image
With Docker up and running, it's time to build the image that contains your
app. The repo you cloned earlier contains a
tells Docker how to build the image. The file looks like this:
FROM ibmcom/ibmnode:latest RUN mkdir -p /usr/src/app WORKDIR /usr/src/app COPY package.json /usr/src/app RUN npm install EXPOSE 6006 COPY . /usr/src/app CMD ["node", "app.js"]
Here is a brief explanation of the commands in the file:
- Line 1: This tells Docker that the image will be
based on the latest IBM node.js image. (You can access this image
because you ran the
bx cr logincommand earlier.)
- Lines 3 and 4: This creates the directory
/usr/src/appand tells Docker to use that as the working directory.
- Lines 6 and 7: Copies the
package.jsonfile to the working directory and runs the
npm installcommand to install all of your app's dependencies.
- Line 9: Tells Docker to open port 6006 to incoming traffic. The app listens for connections on this port.
- Line 11: Copies all of the files in the current directory to the working directory.
- Line 13: Tells Docker what command to run when the
image starts. The first parameter is the command, the second is the
list of arguments for that command. When this image starts, Docker runs
Go to the command line and run the command
docker build -t
basicapp:v1 . (The period there is part of
the command; it tells Docker to do its work in the current directory.)
You'll see something like this:
Your results will vary. In this screen capture, the node.js image already
exists on the system, so there are lots of things that Docker doesn't have
to download. The first time you run
docker build on your
machine, none of the dependencies your image needs will be on your
machine, so Docker will have to download them. Subsequent calls to
docker build will probably work much faster. Also notice that
npm install command hasn't finished running in this
Running a Docker image on your machine
You're no doubt tingling with excitement already, what with having built
your first Docker image and all that, but let's move on and actually
run that image. At the command line, type
create basicapp:v1 to create a container from your
Um, not terribly exciting, is it? You ran a command and got a long hex string that probably means something, although it's not clear what that might be. Fortunately, the Docker community has some great tools that make it easy to work with Docker containers. If you're running on Windows or the Mac, use the awesome Kitematic tool. Start it from the system tray on Windows or the menu bar on the Mac:
Note: As of this writing, Kitematic requires a separate install on Windows. Check the Docker documentation for instructions.
When Kitematic starts, you'll see a display similar to this one:
There are tiles for various Docker images in the dockerhub catalog. If
you'd like to set up Jenkins or PostgreSQL or Minecraft or other software,
you can easily do that with these images. The interesting thing here is in the
upper left-hand corner: It's a list of all the containers running on your
machine. Each one has a randomly assigned name. In this screen capture,
the container is named
unruffled_swirles—much more memorable
than the long string of hex characters you saw at the command line a
At this point, you have a Docker container running on your machine. It has
the basic Hello World app running inside it, but how do you access that
app? To do that, you'll have to define a port for the app. Docker will map
incoming requests for the port number you define to port 6006 in your
container. (Recall the
EXPOSE 6006 command in the
Dockerfile.) Click the Settings menu in the
upper right, then click Ports:
You'll see a display that lets you map the port 6006 in your Docker container to a port on your machine. Here's how to use port 32008:
Click Save to save the mapping, then go to
http://localhost:32008 in your browser. You'll see the Hello
World app up and running:
Congratulations! You've successfully built a Docker image, deployed it to your machine, and configured the Docker runtime so that you can access the app running in the Docker container from a browser.
For Linux, as of this writing Kitematic for Linux does not exist. For similar functionality, try Portainer:
Portainer is packaged as a Docker image, so the installation process is nothing more than asking Docker to download and run that image. See portainer.io for all the details.
Creating a Kubernetes cluster in the IBM Cloud
The ultimate goal here is to deploy an app running in a Docker container to a Kubernetes cluster. It takes a few minutes for a cluster to get up and running, so go ahead and create the cluster now. You'll do the Docker deployment later. From the IBM Cloud console, go to the menu in the upper left-hand corner and click Containers:
Next, click the Create cluster button in the middle of the page:
Finally, give your cluster a name (in the example below, the cluster is named "Mailbag") and make sure you've checked the Lite plan (aka the free plan), then click the Create Cluster button on the right-hand side of the panel:
It may take several minutes for the cluster to be provisioned and started. While that's happening, go ahead and build the Docker image that you'll deploy to the cluster.
Creating a Docker image in the IBM Cloud
You've created a Docker image on your local machine, which is great, but
you need to get that image into the IBM Cloud before you can deploy it to
a Kubernetes cluster. (Make sure you've logged in to the IBM Cloud image
repository with the
bx cr login command before you go
forward.) First, define a namespace for your images. As an example, to
mailbag namespace, enter this command:
bx cr namespace-add mailbag
Namespaces allow you to create groups of Docker images in your IBM Cloud account. You can't create or upload a Docker image until you have a namespace. Your results should look like this:
Now you need to get your Docker images into your container repository in the IBM Cloud. You can do that in one of two ways: build the image directly in the cloud or push an existing image into the cloud. Here are the instructions for each approach:
Building a Docker image in the IBM Cloud
You can use the
bluemix command to create an image in the
bx cr build -t registry.ng.bluemix.net/mailbag/basicapp:v1 .
(Be sure to include the period at the end of the command.)
The output of this command is similar to the
bx cr build command automatically pushes the new image into your
image repository. You can type
bx cr images
to ensure that your image was created and is in the IBM Cloud:
Pushing an existing Docker image into the IBM Cloud
If you want to take a Docker image that you've already built and push it into the cloud, use these two Docker commands:
docker tag basicapp:v1 registry.ng.bluemix.net/mailbag/basicapp:v2
docker push registry.ng.bluemix.net/mailbag/basicapp:v2
Your results should look like this:
Note: This example uses the tag
v2 on the
assumption that you already have a
v1 image in your
repository, created by the command in the previous section. Creating two
v2) gives you two versions of the
same image. As before, typing
bx cr images lists the Docker
images in your repository.
You'll use a combination of
commands to deploy the image as a container running in the cluster and to
expose the container to the world. Before you can run these commands, you
need to configure the
kubectl command to work with your
cluster running in the IBM Cloud. Here are the commands you'll run, along
with an explanation of each:
bx cs cluster-config Mailbag
This uses the Bluemix container service plugin to get the configuration details of the Mailbag cluster you created earlier. It returns a command that you can copy and paste to set the
[Set the KUBECONFIG variable]
This command is in the output from the previous command. It is an
exportstatement on Linux and the Mac, and a
setcommand in the Windows command line; it returns the information you need for an
$env:KUBECONFIGdefinition in Windows PowerShell.
These two commands look like this on Linux or the Mac:
(Notice that the
export command is merely a cut and paste of
the output of the
bx cs cluster-config command.)
KUBECONFIG is set, any
kubectl commands you run
automatically affect your cluster running in the IBM Cloud.
Deploying a Docker image to your Kubernetes cluster
At this point, the Docker image you want to deploy is in the IBM Cloud,
your Kubernetes cluster is up and running, and the
command is configured to work with your cluster.
You're only four commands away from victory. Here they are:
kubectl run apptest --image=registry.ng.bluemix.net/mailbag/basicapp:v1
This starts the Docker image
basicapp:v1from your IBM Cloud container repository in the cluster. It creates a Kubernetes deployment named
kubectl expose deployment/apptest --type=NodePort --name=apptest-service --port=6006
This longwinded command exposes the
apptestdeployment as a
apptest-servicerunning on port 6006. (We'll talk about
NodePorts some other time; suffice to say it's your only option with a free cluster.) At this point, the deployment is created and the service is exposed:
kubectl describe service apptest-service
This displays a variety of useful information about the service you just exposed. Amongst other things, it displays the randomly assigned port number that Kubernetes gave to this service:
bx cs workers Mailbag
Finally, you need to get the IP address of the Kubernetes cluster itself. This command returns that information:
Drum roll please: Now that you know the IP address of the cluster and the port number of the service, you can combine the two in your browser and see Hello World in all its glory:
You've deployed your Docker image to a Kubernetes cluster running on the web. The Hello World application is worldwide; anyone anywhere can access it. Try to remain humble as you bask in the glory of your accomplishments here.
At this point you're completely ready to take over the world of containers and clusters. You know how to build a Docker image, how to push it to the IBM Cloud, and how to deploy it in a Kubernetes cluster. The app running in the Docker container in your cluster is live on the web, so anyone in the world can behold your handiwork. There are plenty more things to master (handling credentials inside a cluster, for example), but you're off to a solid start.
- Learn more about Docker
- Learn more about Kubernetes
- Doug Tidwell's developerWorks Mailbag videos
- IBM Cloud Developer Center
- Try IBM Cloud for free