What is a Docker Container and How to Create One — SitePoint

As a software engineer, you may have heard of Docker and containers. In this tutorial, we’ll explore what a Docker container is and how to create one. We’ll also cover sample code and use cases to help you gain a better understanding of Docker containers.

What is a Docker Container?

A Docker container is a lightweight, standalone, and executable package of software that includes everything needed to run an application. It can run on any operating system, making it ideal for ensuring consistency and portability across different environments. Containers are similar to virtual machines, but they use fewer resources and are faster to start up.

How to Create a Docker Container

To create a Docker container, follow these steps:

  1. Install Docker on your machine.
  2. Write a Dockerfile that specifies the dependencies and configurations needed to run your application.
  3. Build an image from the Dockerfile by running the command docker build --tag [tag_name] . in the directory containing the Dockerfile.
  4. Run a container from the image by running the command docker run [tag_name].

Here’s an example Dockerfile for a Python application:

FROM python:3.9-slim-buster
COPY requirements.txt .
RUN pip install --no-cache-dir -r requirements.txt
COPY . .
CMD [ "python", "./app.py" ]

This Dockerfile specifies a base image from Docker Hub, sets the working directory to /app, copies the requirements.txt file, installs the dependencies, copies the application code, and specifies the command to be run.

Use Cases for Docker Containers

Docker containers have many use cases, including:

  • application development and testing
  • continuous integration and delivery
  • microservices architecture
  • serverless computing
  • cloud computing


Docker containers have revolutionized the way applications are developed, deployed, and maintained. However, there are certain downsides and negatives that come with using Docker containers. One of the primary downsides is the lack of portability.

While Docker container images can be run on any system that supports Docker, they may not always function as expected due to differences in the underlying system configurations. Another major concern is security. Docker containers may be vulnerable to a range of security threats, including container breakout and data leakage. Furthermore, managing and orchestrating large-scale deployments of Docker containers can be a challenge, especially when dealing with high availability and performance requirements.

Finally, Docker containers can be resource-intensive, consuming a significant amount of memory, CPU, and storage, which can impact overall system performance. Despite these downsides, Docker containers continue to offer numerous benefits, and with proper planning and management, their negatives can be mitigated.

Docker Security

Securing Docker applications should be a top priority for anyone using the popular containerization platform. There are several common security vulnerabilities that should be addressed to prevent potential breaches.

One vulnerability is unsecured APIs, which can allow unauthorized access to containers or applications. Docker recommends that APIs be secured with TLS encryption, client authentication, and other security measures.

Another vulnerability is unencrypted communication between container components or the host. Docker recommends implementing TLS encryption with user-generated keys and certificates to secure communication.

Other potential vulnerabilities include unsecured image registries, outdated images or software, and container breakouts. Best practices for securing Docker applications include limiting access to sensitive components, using trusted images and registries, and regularly updating software and images.

The following are some common security vulnerabilities associated with Docker applications:

  • Unsecured Docker daemon. This can provide an entry point for attackers to exploit Docker security vulnerabilities.

  • Improper isolation of containers. This can lead to an attacker gaining access to other containers running on the same host.

  • Default and unsecured configurations. These can easily be exploited by attackers.

  • Inadequate network security configuration. This can result in unauthorized access to Docker services.

To ensure that your Docker applications are secure, it’s essential to take the following measures:

  1. Implement Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC) to restrict access to the Docker daemon.

  2. Use container isolation techniques such as namespace isolation, process isolation, and cgroups to keep containers isolated from one another.

  3. Use security enhancements, such as SELinux, AppArmor, and seccomp, to harden the security of the Docker daemon.

  4. Use trusted images from trusted sources.

  5. Update Docker software regularly to patch up security vulnerabilities.

  6. Use an external container image scanner to ensure proper scanning of images for vulnerabilities.

  7. Use TLS encryption to secure network communication.

Here are some useful links to Docker security documentation:

Securing your Docker applications is essential for ensuring the safety of your data and applications. By implementing the measures mentioned above, you can make your Docker environment more secure and reduce the risk of un-authorized access or attack.

Docker also provides several security features and tools that can be used to secure applications, such as Docker Security Scanning and Docker Content Trust.

For more information on securing Docker applications, refer to Docker’s official documentation.

Docker containers provide a convenient and efficient way to package and run applications. By following the steps outlined in this tutorial, you can create your own Docker container and start benefiting from the advantages it offers. Try experimenting with different configurations and use cases to discover what works best for your projects.

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