How To Provision and Manage Remote Docker Hosts with Docker Machine on CentOS 7
Docker Machine is a tool that makes it easy to provision and manage multiple Docker hosts remotely from your personal computer. Such servers are commonly referred to as Dockerized hosts, and as a matter of course, can be used to run Docker containers.
While Docker Machine can be installed on a local or a remote system, the most common approach is to install it on your local computer (native installation or virtual machine) and use it to provision Dockerized remote servers.
Though Docker Machine can be installed on most Linux distribution as well as on Mac OS X and Windows, in this tutorial, we'll install it on your local machine running CentOS 7 and use it to provision Dockerized DigitalOcean Droplets.
To follow this tutorial, you will need the following:
- A local machine running CentOS 7 with Docker installed. (see How To Install and Use Docker on CentOS 7 for instructions)
- A DigitalOcean API token. If you don't have one, generate it using this guide. When you generate a token, be sure that it has read-write scope. That is the default, so if you do not change any option while generating it, it will have read-write capabilities. And to make it easier to use on the command line, be sure to assign the token to a variable as given in that article.
Step 1 — Installing Docker Machine on Your Local Computer
n this step, we'll work through the process of installing Docker Machine on your local computer running CentOS 7.
To download and install the binary, type:
- wget https://github.com/docker/machine/releases/download/v0.6.0/docker-machine-$(uname -s)-$(uname -m)
The name of the file should be
docker-machine-Linux-x86_64. Rename it to
docker-machine to make it easier to work with:
- mv docker-machine-Linux-x86_64 docker-machine
Make it executable:
chmod +x docker-machine
Move or copy it to the
usr/local/bin directory so that it will be available as a system command.
sudo mv docker-machine /usr/local/bin
Check the version, which will indicate that it's properly installed:
- docker-machine version
The output should be similar to
Outputdocker-machine version 0.6.0, build e27fb87
Step 2 — Installing Additional Docker Machine Scripts
There are three bash scripts in the Docker Machine GitHub repository designed to facilitate the usage of the
docker-machine commands. They provide command completion and bash-prompt customization.
In this step, we'll install the three scripts on your local machine. They will be downloaded and installed into the
The first script makes it possible to see the active machine in your bash prompt. This comes in handy when you working with and switching between multiple Dockerized machines. The script is called
docker-machine-prompt.bash. To download it, type:
- sudo wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/docker/machine/master/contrib/completion/bash/docker-machine-prompt.bash -O /etc/bash_completion.d/docker-machine-prompt.bash
To complete the installation of the above file, you'll have to set a custom value for the
PS1 variable in your
.bashrc file. So open it using
nano (PS1 is a special shell variable used to modify the bash command prompt):
- nano ~/.bashrc
Copy and paste the following line at the end of that file:
export PS1='[\u@\h \W$(__docker_machine_ps1 " [%s]")]\$ '
With this modification to your
~/.bashrc file, when you activate a machine, its name will be inserted into the shell prompt.
Save and close the file.
The second script is called
docker-machine-wrapper.bash. It adds a
use subcommand to the
docker-machine command, making it easy to switch between Dockerized Machines. To download it, type
- sudo wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/docker/machine/master/contrib/completion/bash/docker-machine-wrapper.bash -O /etc/bash_completion.d/docker-machine-wrapper.bash
The third script is called
docker-machine.bash. It adds bash completion for
docker-machine commands. Download it using:
- sudo wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/docker/machine/master/contrib/completion/bash/docker-machine.bash -O /etc/bash_completion.d/docker-machine.bash
To apply the changes you've made so far, close, then reopen your terminal. If you're logged into the machine via SSH, exit the session and log in again. Command completion for the
docker-machine commands should now be working. If it does not work, it's likely that the
bash-completion package is not installed. If that's the case, install it using:
- sudo yum install bash-completion
That should fix it.
Step 3 — Provisioning a Dockerized Host Using Docker Machine
Now that you have Docker and Docker Machine running on your local machine, you can now provision a Dockerized Droplet on your DigitalOcean account using Docker Machine's
docker-machine create command. If you've not done so already, assign your DigitalOcean API token to a bash variable using:
- export shell-variable=your-api-token
NOTE: This tutorial uses DOTOKEN as the bash variable for the DO API token. The variable name does not have to be DOTOKEN, and it does not have to be in all caps.
To make the variable permanent, put it in your
~/.bashrc file. This step is optional, but it is necessary if you want to the value to persist across terminal sessions.
- nano ~/.bashrc
Add a line similar to this anywhere:
To activate the variable in the current terminal session, type:
- source ~/.bashrc
To call the
docker-machine create command successfully you must specify (at a minimum) the driver, the API token (or the variable that evaluates to it), and a unique name for the remote host. To create your first Dockerized host, type:
- docker-machine create --driver digitalocean --digitalocean-access-token $DOTOKEN machine-name
Partial output as the host is being created follows. In this output, the name of the host is
Output... Installing Docker... Copying certs to the local machine directory... Copying certs to the remote machine... Setting Docker configuration on the remote daemon... Checking connection to Docker... Docker i up and running! To see how to connect your Docker Client to the Docker Engine running on this virtual machine, run: docker-machine env centos-docker
An SSH key pair is created for the new host so that
docker-machine can access it remotely. The Droplet is provisioned with the desired operating system, and Docker is installed on the system. When the command is complete, your Docker Droplet is up and running.
To see the newly create host from the command line, type:
- docker-machine ls
The output should be similar to this:
OutputNAME ACTIVE DRIVER STATE URL SWARM DOCKER ERRORS centos-docker - digitalocean Running tcp://220.127.116.11:2376 v1.11.1
Step 4 — Specify the Base OS When Creating a Dockerized Host
This step shows you how to specify a base OS and version for the Dockerized Host being created with the
For example, to create a Dockerized host using CentOS 7, type:
- docker-machine create --driver digitalocean --digitalocean-image centos-7-x64 --digitalocean-access-token $DOTOKEN machine-name
What if you would like to run Debian 8 on your server? You would type the following command:
- docker-machine create --driver digitalocean --digitalocean-image debian-8-x64 --digitalocean-access-token $DOTOKEN machine-name
By default, the base operating system used when creating a Dockerized host with Docker Machine is supposed to be the latest version (or the latest LTS version for Ubuntu). However, at the time of this publication, the
docker-machine create command is still using Ubuntu 15.10 as the base operating system, even though Ubuntu 16.04 is the latest LTS edition. So if you need to run Ubuntu 16.04, you'll have to specify Ubuntu along with the desired version by passing the
--digitalocean-image flag to the
docker-machine create command:
- docker-machine create --driver digitalocean --digitalocean-image ubuntu-16-04-x64 --digitalocean-access-token $DOTOKEN machine-name
The base operating system is not the only choice you have. You can also specify the size of the Droplet. by default, it is the smallest Droplet, which has 512 MB of RAM and a 20 GB SSD. This next example provisions a host with 1 GB of RAM:
- docker-machine create --driver digitalocean --digitalocean-size 1gb --digitalocean-access-token $DOTOKEN machine-name
To see all the flags specific to creating a Docker Machine using the DigitalOcean driver, type:
- docker-machine create --driver digitalocean -h
Tip: If you refresh the Droplet page of your DigitalOcean dashboard, you should see the new hosts you created using the
Step 5 — Executing Other Docker Machine Commands
You've seen how to provision a Dockerized host using the
create subcommand. You also seen how to list the hosts available to Docker Machine using the
ls subcommand. In this step, you'll learn about a few more of the other
To obtain detailed information about a Dockerized host, use the
inspect subcommand, like so:
- docker-machine inspect machine-name
The output should include lines like these. The Image line reveals the version of the Linux distribution used:
Output... "DropletName": "", "Image": "centos-7-0-x64", "Region": "nyc3", "SSHKeyID": 1912961, "Size": "512mb", "IPv6": false, "Backups": false, "PrivateNetworking": false, ---
To print the connection configuration for a host, type:
- docker-machine config machine-name
The output should be similar to this:
Output--tlsverify --tlscacert="/home/kamit/.docker/machine/certs/ca.pem" --tlscert="/home/kamit/.docker/machine/certs/cert.pem" --tlskey="/home/kamit/.docker/machine/certs/key.pem" -H=tcp://18.104.22.168:2376
The last line in the output of the
docker-machine config command reveals the IP address of the host, but you can also get that piece of information by typing:
- docker-machine ip machine-name
If you need to power down a remote host, you can use
docker-machine to stop it:
- docker-machine stop machine-name
Verify that it is stopped.
- docker-machine ls
The status of the host has changed:
OuputNAME ACTIVE DRIVER STATE URL SWARM DOCKER ERRORS centos-docker digitalocean Timeout
To start it again:
- docker-machine start machine-name
Verify that it is started:
- docker-machine ls
You will see that the
STATE is now set
Running for the host:
OuputNAME ACTIVE DRIVER STATE URL SWARM DOCKER ERRORS centos-docker - digitalocean Running tcp://22.214.171.124:2376 v1.11.1
Finally, if you want to remove a host:
- docker-machine rm machine-name
Step 6 — Executing Commands on a Dockerized Host via SSH
At this point, you've been getting information about your hosts, but you can do more than that. For example, you can execute native Linux commands on a Docker host by using the
ssh subcommand of
docker-machine from your local system. This section explains how to perform
ssh commands via
docker-machine as well as how to open an SSH session to a Dockerized host.
Assuming that you've provisioned a host with CentOS as the operating system, execute the following command from your local system to update the packages on the Docker host:
- docker-machine ssh machine-name yum update
Not sure what kernel your remote Docker host is using? Type the following:
- docker-machine ssh machine-name uname -r
Besides using the
ssh subcommand to execute commands on the remote Docker host, you can also use it to log into the Dockerized host itself. That's as easy as typing:
- docker-machine ssh machine-name
Your command prompt will change to reflect the fact that you're logged into the remote host:
To exit from the remote host, simply type:
Step 7 — Activating a Dockerized Host
Activating a Docker host connects your local Docker client to that system, which makes it possible to run normal
docker commands on the remote system. To activate a Docker host, type the following command:
- eval $(docker-machine env machine-name)
Alternatively, you can activate it by using this command:
- docker-machine use machine-name
Tip When working with multiple Docker hosts, the
docker-machine use command is the easiest method of switching from one to the other.
After typing any of the above commands, your bash prompt should change to indicate that your Docker client is pointing to the remote Docker host. It will take this form. The name of the host will be at the end of the prompt:
docker command you type at this command prompt will be executed on that remote host.
If a host is active on the terminal that the
docker-machine ls command is run, the asterisk under the ACTIVE column shows that it is the active one.
OutputNAME ACTIVE DRIVER STATE URL SWARM DOCKER ERRORS centos-docker * digitalocean Running tcp://126.96.36.199:2376 v1.11.1
NOTE: When a host is active, any
docker command you type on the terminal you're using will be executed on the remote host. However, all normal Linux commands are executed on the local computer.
To exit from the remote Docker host, type the following:
docker-machine use -u
You will be returned to the prompt for your local system.
Step 8 — Creating Docker Containers on a Remote Dockerized Host
So far, you have provisioned a Dockerized Droplet on your DigitalOcean account and you've activated it — that is, your Docker client is pointing to it. The next logical step is to spin up containers on it. As an example, let's try running the official Nginx container.
While still pointing to your Docker host (as indicated by the changed prompt), execute this command to run an Nginx container:
docker run -d -p 8080:80 --name httpserver nginx
In this command, we're mapping port 80 in the Nginx container to port 8080 on the Dockerized host so that we can access the default Nginx page from anywhere.
If the command executed successfully, you will be able to access the default Nginx page by pointing your Web browser to
While the Docker host is still activated (as seen by its name in the prompt), you should be able to list the images on that host:
The output should include the Nginx image you just used, plus others you downloaded before:
OutputREPOSITORY TAG IMAGE ID CREATED SIZE nginx latest 3edcc5de5a79 14 minutes ago 182.7 MB mariadb latest f7ef3a80dc89 2 days ago 382.2 MB hello-world latest 94df4f0ce8a4 3 days ago 967 B
You should also be able to list the active or running containers on the host:
If the Nginx container you ran in this step is the only active container, the output should look like this:
OutputCONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES c30e8c1bb03f nginx "nginx -g 'daemon off" 14 minutes ago Up 14 minutes 443/tcp, 0.0.0.0:8080->80/tcp httpserver
To exit the prompt for the remote host, type
exit. This will close the terminal as well:
Tip: If you intend to create containers on a remote host, your Docker client must be pointing to it — that is, it must be the active host in the terminal that you're using. Otherwise you'll be creating the container on your local machine. Let your command prompt be your guide.
Step 9 — Disabling Crash Reporting (Optional)
By default, whenever an attempt to provision a Dockerized host using Docker Machine fails, or Docker Machine crashes, some diagnostic information is sent automatically to a Docker account on Bugsnag. If you're not comfortable with this, you can disable the reporting by creating an empty file called
no-error-report under your installations
To accomplish that, simply type:
- touch ~/.docker/machine/no-error-report
Check the file for error messages if provisioning fails or Docker Machine crashes.
This has been an introduction to installing and using Docker Machine to provision multiple Docker Droplets remotely from one local system. Now you should be able to quickly provision as many Dockerized hosts on your DigitalOcean account as you need.