How To Get Started with Docker: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

How To Get Started with Docker: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Docker Learning Guide for Frontend Developers

Being ready to deploy your apps with Docker is a higher-demand knowledge today, and this article will guide you (and me) from zero to surviving with Docker.

The guide's key features are:

  • Install and run the docker

  • Create and build images

  • Mount volumes

  • Create networks

  • Publish in docker hub

  • Use Docker-compose.

After reading the docker official documentation, we understood that Docker gives us the freedom to run our applications everywhere, language and framework-agnostic, and unlock the following points.

  • Easy way to deliver an application.

  • Make easy setup sandbox for development.

  • No version conflicts and environment consistency.

  • Easy to know the dependencies and requirements of our apps.

Install Docker and Run

Docker provides an installer for Windows and Mac; you need to write some commands for Linux. All steps are on the official docker website or use the following command scripts.

It works in Ubuntu 20 or higher.

sudo apt install apt-transport-https ca-certificates curl software-properties-common -y
curl -fsSL | sudo apt-key add -
sudo add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] focal stable" -y
sudo apt update
sudo apt install docker-ce -y
sudo usermod -aG docker ${USER}
su - ${USER}
id -nG
sudo curl -L "$(uname -s)-$(uname -m)" -o /usr/local/bin/docker-compose
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/docker-compose
docker-compose --version
docker ps

If everything works, test your Docker by running the following command from the terminal Docker, run hello-world.

    docker run hello-world
    Unable to find image 'hello-world:latest' locally
    latest: Pulling from library/hello-world
    2db29710123e: Pull complete 
    Digest: sha256:37a0b92b08d4919615c3ee023f7ddb068d12b8387475d64c622ac30f45c29c51
    Status: Downloaded newer image for hello-world:latest
    Hello from Docker!
    This message shows that your installation appears to be working correctly.

The command, get the image, and run it! If you get the message, you are ready for the next step about Docker images.

Docker Images

A Docker image is like a box. It can bring one or multiple services, apps, databases, web servers, cache, etc.

For example, if you want a webserver like Nginx, Docker pulls and runs an image with a Nginx server ready, so you don't need to install Linux, install Nginx, configure ports, etc.

It sounds familiar if you have already worked with git; Docker pulls nginx, and Docker finds it in your machine for the image. If not, then it gets from Dockerhub.

Dockerhub is like GitHub for Docker.

dany@dany:~$ docker pull nginx
Using default tag: latest
latest: Pulling from library/nginx
Digest: sha256:644a70516a26004c97d0d85c7fe1d0c3a67ea8ab7ddf4aff193d9f301670cf36
Status: Downloaded newer image for nginx:latest

Docker provides more commands to work with images, like docker images lists all images in our machine.

dany@dany:~$ docker images
nginx      latest        87a94228f133   2 weeks ago     133MB

Remove our images. We use docker rmi imageid or name.

dany@dany:~$ docker rmi nginx
Untagged: nginx:latest
Untagged: nginx@sha256:644a70516a26004c97d0d85c7fe1d0c3a67ea8ab7ddf4aff193d9f301670cf36
Deleted: sha256:87a94228f133e2da99cb16d653cd1373c5b4e8689956386c1c12b60a20421a02

Sometimes, our image is linked with a container and needs to use -f to force remove it.

We are ready to run our containers!

Running Containers

We have the nginx image in our machine, and then Docker helps us start the nginx and try to access the port provided by nginx; in short, it is like telling Docker.

Hey Docker, please run nginx using port x and translate port x to port y from nginx; the command version is docker run -p 8080:80 nginx.

The container starts and shows the logs into the terminal.

docker run  -p 8080:80 nginx
/ /docker-entrypoint.d/ is not empty, will attempt to perform configuration
/ Looking for shell scripts in /docker-entrypoint.d/
/ Launching /docker-entrypoint.d/ info: Getting the checksum of /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf info: Enabled listen on IPv6

Ready, from the browser, go to localhost:8080. The next step is to build our image.

The Dockerfile

Building an image for Docker requires a particular file, "The Dockerfile" it contains all commands Docker make, like code, and uses the docker build compiler and build the Docker image.

The Dockerfile is a yml with a few commands most used instructions:

FROM The image where we want to start. e.g., FROM node:alpine.

LABEL add extra information, e.g., LABEL author=" Dany."

ENV declare variables, e.g., ENV NODE_ENV=production.

WORKDIR The location in the container. e.g. WORKDIR /var/www.

COPY Copy files to the container, e.g., COPY index.html /var/www.

RUN Executes the command in the container, e.g., RUN npm install.

EXPOSE Open a port to communicate with the container, e.g., EXPOSE 8080.

ENTRYPOINT The command to start the container. e.g ENTRYPOINT [./ ]

Now we have an idea of the main keywords, let's build an image with the following points.

  • Create bases of a node:alpine, it comes with node.

  • Define our name as the author

  • Declare an environment variable

  • Install the HTTP-server npm package.

  • Set a working directory

  • Copy an index.html file into the container.

  • Run entry project, the HTTP-server.

Build our Image

Create a file app.dockerfile

FROM          node:alpine
LABEL          author="Dany  Paredes"
ENV          production=false
WORKDIR      /var/www
COPY          index.html  .
RUN          npm  install  http-server  -g
EXPOSE      8080
ENTRYPOINT  ["http-server"]

Create a file index.html with content like "Hello from Docker" in the same directory of the app.dockerfile.

<h1>Hello! from docker!!</h1>

Build the image using the Docker build command and the -t flag to tell the name of our image and the -f flag to tell which docker file to use.

Skip use -f if the docker file name is Dockerfile.

docker build -t webdockerize -f app.dockerfile .
Sending build context to Docker daemon  3.072kB
Step 1/8 : FROM node:alpine..
Successfully built 437881e62fa2
Successfully tagged blog:latest
 ---> c0fc1c9c473b

Docker built the blog image. Next, list the docker images, and the webdockerize is in our list.

dany@dany:~/Documents/dockriz$ docker images
webdockerize  latest  437881e62fa2   5 minutes ago   176MB

Ready to run the image with the command docker run and using port 8080.

docker run -p 8088:8080 webdockerize
Starting up http-server, serving ./
http-server version: 14.0.0
Available on:
Hit CTRL-C to stop the server

Our web server is running. Go to localhost:8088, and it shows the hello docker page.

Container with Volumes

To access the container to the local directory or use files from our machines, we use our machine directory as part of the container instead of copying files to the images.

Docker with the flag -v (volumes) allows the container to map the host directory as part of the container. Similar to the ports, the volume works similarly -v external directory: internal directory.

docker run -p 8088:8080 -v /home/dany/Documents/dockriz/app:/var/www danywalls/webdockerize

Use ${PWD} if you want to take the current directory.

Playing with the containers.

The container is ready, maybe run one or two instances, know which containers are running, get into the container or watch the output like logs; Docker provides a solution for each situation.

List active containers, docker ps -a.

docker ps -a
8a21256f7f3f   nginx     "/docker-entrypoint.…"   5 seconds ago   Exited       dazzling_ganguly

To get into the container shell, use the command docker exec -it containerid. It will give access to the container shell to play with it.

docker exec -it 34bb0840ddb5 sh
/var/www # ls

Get the output log from the container using the docker logs container.

docker logs 8a21256f7f3f
/ /docker-entrypoint.d/ is not empty, will attempt to perform configuration
/ Looking for shell scripts in /docker-entrypoint.d/
/ Launching /docker-entrypoint.d/

We can learn more about available commands running Docker --help or check out the docker guides

Docker Network

Sometimes we need to run multiple containers of the same or other images and talk together, like an app with API or database. We can have a container with a database and another with a web app.

We use a bridge network to communicate between containers, and Docker allows us to use the docker network command.

To create a network using docker network create and the driver to use (you have multiple types), my example is bridge focus to communicate my containers between them.

docker network create --drive bridge danynetwork

Other handy commands are:

  • docker network ls get the list of network

  • docker network rm network name remove a network

Read more about network drivers

Run our container in specific network use --net and network name.

docker run -d --net=danynetwork -p 3050:3000 danywalls/webdockerize


Dockerhub is like GitHub for our docker images. Create an account at, and login into the terminal with the command docker login, add your credentials, and our Docker is ready to store our images.

Run again to build with the flag -t and your username/name of the image.

docker build -t danywalls/webdockerize -f app.dockerfile .

Next, push the image using docker push, and the last build image with tagged with your username.

dany@dany:~/Documents/dockriz$ docker push danywalls/webdockerize:latest
The push refers to repository []
2d6ed4627650: Pushed 
e9522abed4c4: Pushed 
a40075dcb1c2: Pushed 
bdfe600c60fd: Mounted from library/node 
e9b39456535c: Mounted from library/node 
d61ddabe4e93: Mounted from library/node 
e2eb06d8af82: Mounted from library/node 
latest: digest: sha256:e6fbc3dbf6bba15cf312d12ee6600bd4f27a2f49e05f105dc1a54c05550a68c5 size: 1783

Remove the local image using docker rmi.

docker rmi danywalls/webdockerize:latest 
Untagged: danywalls/webdockerize:latest
Untagged: danywalls/webdockerize@sha256:e6fbc3dbf6bba15cf312d12ee6600bd4f27a2f49e05f105dc1a54c05550a68c5

Get the image from dockerhub using the docker pull command.

docker pull danywalls/webdockerize:latest
latest: Pulling from danywalls/webdockerize
Digest: sha256:e6fbc3dbf6bba15cf312d12ee6600bd4f27a2f49e05f105dc1a54c05550a68c5
Status: Downloaded newer image for danywalls/webdockerize:latest

Docker Compose

For all steps before commands, we can simplify using docker-compose.

Docker-Compose helps us define services using a YAML file, build multiple images, start and stop services and have everything in a single file.

Basic docker-compose commands:

  • docker-compose build: take all services and build the images.

  • docker-compose up start all containers.

  • docker-compose down stop all containers.

Read more about docker-compose

The docker-compose.yml

Some docker key areas.

  • version: '3.x' the version of files

  • services: the declaration of our containers

  • networks: define the network between containers.

  • depends_on: define a container dependency.

Create a file docker-compose.yml in the services area, and declare two containers, 'web' and 'API.'

images: tell where we get from the local file or dockerhub. ports: the expose port network: to add the container into a network. depends_on: if our container requires another before starting.

The docker-compose.yml looks like this:

version: '3.0'
    image: danywalls/webdockerize
      - '8080:8080'
      - danynetwork
      - api
    image: danywalls/apijson
      - '3000:8080'
      - danynetwork
    driver: bridge

Next, start our containers using docker-compose-up.

 docker-compose up
Building with the native build. Learn about the native build in Compose here:
Creating dockriz_api_1 ... done
Creating dockriz_web_1 ... done

The web and API work if you stop all the containers and network with the flag stop.

docker-compose stop

That's it! Hopefully, I will help you with basic commands with Docker, deploy our apps, create our images, communicate between networks and simplify the process using docker-compose.

If you enjoyed this post, share it!

Helpful links