Docker for Mac Beta

I was excited to see Docker announce a beta for ‘native’ support for Docker on Windows and Mac where ‘native’ means that Docker appears as a native application utilising built-in virtualisation technology (Hyper-V on Windows and a project called xhyve on Mac) rather than requiring Virtual Box. Sadly this isn’t much use to me at work where I run the corporate standard Windows 7 on my laptop and Linux on my desktop. (The Register had an article indicating that, although Windows 7 is declining in the enterprise, its market share is still 45%+ so I hope Docker don’t do anything rash like ceasing to develop Docker Toolbox.) I do have a Mac at home though so I signed up for an invite.

The install went very smoothly although the promised migration of images and containers from my existing default Docker Toolbox image failed to happen. My best guess was that this was because the VM was back-level from the version of the client that the native app had installed although I’m only guessing. Docker Machine and the native app sit happily alongside one another although obviously I then needed to upgrade the VM to match the newer client version.

Needless to say, the first thing I tried to run was the websphere-liberty image. This started flawlessly and, having mapped port 9080 to 9080, I was then able to access the Liberty welcome page at docker.local:9080. So far so good.

WebSphere Liberty under Docker for Mac Beta

Having been out on vacation at the time, I went back and listened to the online meetup covering the beta. Given that we have websphere-liberty images for PPC and z/Linux, I was particularly intrigued to see that it promised the ability to run images for multiple architectures. The example given in the meetup worked like a charm:

Unfortunately trying to run anything against other images such as ppc64le/ubuntu resulted in a ‘command not found’ from Docker so I need to do some more digging to see what’s going on here.

Whilst browsing the beta forums, a common complaint was the speed of the file system mounts which has also been a problem with the Virtual Box approach. I decided to test this out by trying to use the maven image to compile our DayTrader sample. To keep things ‘fair’, my maven cache was pre-populated and, when running the image, I mounted the cache.

Natively on the host a ‘mvn compile’ takes around 12 seconds. With Docker running in a Docker Machine VM using the following command, the time was surprisingly close, typically of the order of 14 seconds.

Running the same command against the beta unfortunately took over 30 seconds. Whether that’s down to the file system driver I can’t say. It’s certainly an appreciable difference but, hey, this is a beta so there’s still plenty of hope for the future!

One tip that I picked up on the way: ‘docker-machine env’ has an  ‘–unset’ option which means that, if you want to switch back to the native Docker install after using Machine, then you can use the following command:

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