Here are 5 things you need to know about using Docker on the Raspberry Pi from Docker Captain Alex Ellis@alexellisuk

One way you can use Raspberry Pi and Docker together is for Swarm. Used together, they can create a computer cluster. With Swarm containers on a bunch of networked Raspberry Pis, you can build a powerful machine and explore how a Docker Swarm works. Alex shows you how in this video. The good news is that Raspberry Pi OS does support Docker, in both the 32-bit and 64-bit variants! Read below on how to install it as well as Docker Compose. Note: This article is written for Raspberry Pi 2, 3 and 4 running Rasperry Pi OS. Older models of the board and Raspberry Pi Zero are currently not supported. What better way to say 'Happy Pi Day' than by installing Docker Engine - Community (CE) 18.09 on Raspberry Pi. This article will walk you through the process of installing Docker Engine 18.09 on a Raspberry Pi. There are many articles out there that show this process, but many failed due to older Engine versions.

If you're new to Docker then visit my Hands-On Docker online workshop: Hands-On Docker labs

Docker containers are lightweight, especially compared to virtual machines. This feature is especially valuable if you are a Raspberry Pi user. If you need help installing Docker on your Raspberry Pi, read our step-by-step guide on how to install Docker on Raspberry Pi. Using Docker on Raspberry Pi 4. In this section, we will show you how to use Docker on your Raspberry Pi 4. If you have never used Docker, this section should help you get started. To run a Docker container, you need a Docker image on which the Docker container will be based.

1. Install Docker with one command


Today there is no need to brace yourself for pages of hacks or technical jargon to get Docker onto your device. One command does it all (through apt-get behind the scenes) - you can even memorise the command:

On Raspbian enter:

Providing you're running Debian or a derivative you're now good to go. The folks at the Docker project build docker/docker from source through CI which includes quality gates around unit and integration tests.

2. Know your Architecture

The Raspberry Pi hardware architecture is called ARM and differs from the architecture behind your regular PC, laptop or cloud instance.

What does that mean? A binary built for either system will not execute on the other.

The helloworld container will not work on the RPi. I'd suggest starting with my tutorial Get started with Docker on your RPi. It recommends a good set of base images to build what you need - whether that be Go, Node.js, Python, Nginx or something completely different.

The following shortcut will show you the architecture on a Pi or regular Linux machine:

Output from my Raspberry Pi and an Azure cloud instance of Ubuntu

Install image docker. Then simply install tzdata in your image. FROM ubuntu:18.04 RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y tzdata # Testing command: Print the date. It will be in the timezone set from the compose file. CMD date To test: docker-compose build timezone. Use a Docker. Image for GPU Build a Docker. Image for GPU. Prerequisites: GPU is not available in container by default, you must attach it to the container. Kernel driver must be installed on the host. Intel® OpenCL™ runtime package must be included into the container. In the container, non-root user must be in the video and render groups.

All Pis are compatible with ARMv6 architecture so for simplicity's sake I recommend you build your code through an ARMv6 base image and only pull in official distribution binaries from the likes of Golang, Nodejs, InfluxDB etc where they target that architecture.

What does this mean? It means you can't docker run -d -p 80:80 nginx:latest - read on for the workaround.

3. You can't trust anyone (yet)

This may seem like a harsh thing to say - but in a climate where even baby monitors and lightbulbs can be taken over to participate in DDOS attacks we need to get smart.

  • Don't use an image unless it's official

There are no truly official images but resin/rpi-raspbian is used by thousands of devices and curated by I would recommend creating all your images from this as a base.

The Docker team are working on a set of semi-official images under the namespace armhf and you will see those images coming into play in the Dockerfile.armhf in the docker/docker repo.

Anil from the Docker Inc. team in Cambridge told me how his team are procuring ARM servers like they were going out of fashion in order to create a build-farm to support ARM devices. That infrastructure will enable autobuild support on the public Docker Hub.

  • Don't run any binaries you that didn't compile yourself

Even if it takes 2 days to compile PhantomJS - it's still way better than relying on a tar.gz provided by someone you know nothing about on the internet.

Docker Security by Adrian Mouat coins the term poison image for an image tainted with malware.

I have provided a set of Dockerfiles on Github for common software such as Node.js, Python, Consul and Nginx:

Github: alexellis/docker-arm

If you want to create a Docker image for software such as, Node.js or Golang then head over to their download page and locate the official binary package for ARM - then add it into one of the base images we covered above.

If no binary exists then take the time to re-build from source and don't take any risks. Google the build instructions if you run into issues - they can often be found from a 5-minute search.

4. Get physical

The Raspberry Pi excels at interfacing with hardware through it's 40-pin header. You can talk to just about any electrical component directly or through add-on boards - if it's rated for 3.3v/5v that's a good start. Manufacturers like Pimoroni have a wealth of purpose-built sensor and LED boards which mean no trailing wires or complicated code libraries.

Have you seen my IoT demo from Dockercon and Container.Camp yet?

Pre-recorded demo for Dockercon break glass in case of laptop failure.

All the Dockerfiles, Python code and build instructions are publicly available. I couldn't have done any of this without the Pi's support for physical hardware.

  • Container Camp write-up including my IoT demo.

Getting live demonstrations from @alexellisuk at @[email protected]

— comparethemarkt_tech (@comparemkttech) September 21, 2016

5. Build a super-computer

Building a cluster has never been easier than with the built-in Swarm Mode from Docker 1.12 onwards. Take it from me because I spent weeks rebuilding the Swarm, Consul binaries etc to set up a 28-CPU swarm for Linux User magazine.

Docker On Raspberry Pi 4

Now I type in one command on my manager and another on the workers. What's more the managers can also do useful work, where as in the original swarm mode that was harder to achieve.

See Docker's presentation from Container.Camp right here - it literally takes two commands to begin building a super-computer.

Want a secure @docker cluster? No problem, it's built-in: two commands and you're set.

— Alex Ellis (@alexellisuk) September 9, 2016

The second most common question I get asked is: can I run a minecraft-super-server with a Pi cluster? The short answer is no and the long answer is yes.

You probably won't be playing a graphics-intensive game at a better FPS rate over your new Pi cluster and it probably won't make loading Chrome any quicker, but it's an invaluable learning tool.

Docker On Raspberry Pi 4

You can can deploy your distributed application at an infrastructure rather than at a specific set of servers. For instance:

Docker On Raspberry Pi 4 Ubuntu

  • Deploy an application on real hardware
  • Simulate network/power failures
  • Code against the Docker remote API
  • Track down bottle-necks and show scaling different services increases throughput (or not)

Where next?

Connect with me on Twitter @alexellisuk to go deeper with Docker, DevOps and containers.

Running Docker On Raspberry Pi 4

There's over 28 Raspberry Pi and Docker tutorials on my blog. Explore them all here - ranging from time lapses to IoT sensor monitoring to learning Golang:

Installing Docker On Raspberry Pi 4

Want to learn the basics of Docker in a hands-on way? Visit or fork my online workshop: Hands-On Docker labs

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