Assessing the current state of Docker Engine & Tools on Raspberry Pi

Are you planning to speak or conduct your next Docker Workshop on Raspberry Pi’s? Still curious to know whether the tools like Docker Machine, Docker Compose, Dockerfile, 1.12 Swarm Mode, High Availability & Load Balancing are compatible and good to be demonstrated to the workshop audience? In case you want to know the current state of Docker containers on Raspberry Pi, then you are at the right place. For the next 1/2 hour time, I will be talking about what Docker images, tools, networking and security features are supported on Raspberry Pi box.

Let’s have a quick glimpse of what popular tools works today with Docker Engine on Pi box. Below listed are few lists of tools and applications which currently works great on Raspberry Pi. Please remember that this is NOT official support Matrix from Docker Inc. Also, the versions specified are the latest tested and verified personally. I just verified the tools functionality so as to keep it ready before the workshop.


The  State of Docker Engine

In my previous blog post, I talked about “Docker 1.12.1 on Raspberry Pi 3 in 5 minutes” where I demonstrated on how to get started with Docker 1.12.1 Installation on Pi box for the first time. With 1.12.1, a FIRST ARM Debian package was officially made available and there was tremendous amount of interest among the Docker users. This time I tried my hands with the latest experimental build, Docker Engine version 1.12.3 on top of the latest Raspbian Jessie Lite version.




Docker Engine looked quite stable as I was able to try out basic Docker commands like exec, run, attach etc., creating Dockerfile and building the image was smooth on Pi box. Running and stopping the containers works as smooth as you experience on VMs on your Virtual box or Cloud instance. This release should be a good baseline for demonstration of the latest Docker CLI to the workshop audience(for both beginners & advanced level users)

The State of Docker Compose

Docker Compose is a tool for defining and running multi-container Docker applications. With Compose, you use a Compose file to configure your application’s services.Major features like multiple isolated environments on a single host, building up Microservice architecture makes Compose a powerful tool. I picked up the latest stable Docker Compose version 1.8 so as to check and verify the latest compose functionality.


I followed this link to get Docker Compose version 1.8 installed on my Pi box. It went smooth and required no tweaking at all. I tried running WordPress application(running maria-db, Apache and PHP) inside docker containers using docker-compose and it just went fine.






The overall experience with Docker Compose was positive. Tried dozens of docker-compose CLIs like exec and run and it worked great. In case you are planning to demonstrate Compose 1.8, go ahead and this should be a great tool to demonstrate the concept of Microservices to the workshop users.

The State of Docker 1.12 Swarm Mode

I verified the functionality of Swarm Mode on Docker 1.12.3 and it just works flawless. I tested the basic functionality in setting up the master and worker nodes and it worked great:


One just need to add the worker nodes as suggested in the above command and it just worked as expected. I tried few features like workers leaving the cluster using $docker swarm leave option and it worked as expected. Creating networks and attaching services to the overlay network is one feature which I haven’t yet tried out. Will update this space once I try my hands-on with the overlay network.

The State of Docker 1.12 High Availability:

Demonstrating HA using Swarm Mode is always an interesting stuffs to do with the container clustering.  I had 5 nodes clustering setup with 5 Raspberry Pi – one master and other 4 worker nodes. I took the same WordPress application and demonstrated on 5 node cluster. I scaled out the WordPress application container from 10 to 30 and then tried stopping few containers on the 3rd Pi. Automatically the new containers came up with a new IDs balancing across the swarm cluster. I haven’t tested the master node failure on Pi box but I believe it should work with minimal 3 number of master nodes on Raspberry Pi boxes.

The State of Operating Systems Docker Image:

Last September, I built the first CentOS 7.2 ARM docker image on Raspberry Pi 3 which I described in detail through my blog. It was well appreciated effort and quite accepted by Docker community. I was trying to build Dell legacy application for ARM architecture and the legacy application was tightly coupled to CentOS 7.x distribution. Hence, just thought to pick up necessary packages from Fedora repository and successfully built the required CentOS 7.2 Docker image. Other than CentOS, Ubuntu, Alpine Linux and Arch-Linux are few of the most popular Docker OS image which can be demonstrated to the workshop audience.


The State of Tools(Monitoring, Management):

Two months back, I published a blog post on “Turn Your Raspberry Pi into Out-of-band Monitoring Device using Docker“. I pushed Nagios Docker image for the first time for ARM architecture which you can use freely from Dockerhub. Demonstrating the monitoring tool like Nagios running inside Docker on Raspberry Pi can be a great example of how Docker reduces the complexity in packaging the huge application.

Talking about UI & Management of Docker containers, I came across Portainer – A Simple Management UI for Docker .Portainer is very young project but gaining a huge popularity due to its easy to use UI, lightweight and responsive user interface.

[Updated: 11/21/2016] – Good News for Pi users – Portainer now has official support for ARM arch using the Docker image portainer/portainer:arm ! Portainer recently added more features to support swarm mode services in their latest release.

Setting up Portainer is a matter of one-liner command(as shown below):


That’s it. All you need to do is open your browser and point out to http://<IP>:9000.Portainer provides you a lightweight management UI which allows you to easily manage your Docker host or Swarm cluster.


One of the most attractive offering from Portainer Team is “Use Your Own Templates” . It allows you to rapidly deploy containers using App Templates, a glimpse of which can be found at


In short, Portainer allows you to manage your Docker containers, images, volumes, networks and more ! It is compatible with the standalone Docker engine and with Docker Swarm.

In my future blog post, I am going to touch upon the upcoming Docker releases verified for Raspberry Pi box and its compatibility matrix. Feel free to share your thoughts through twitter(@ajeetsraina)

Run Your Next Docker Workshop on Raspberry Pi



2 thoughts on “Assessing the current state of Docker Engine & Tools on Raspberry Pi

  1. Hi there! Portainer maintainer here! Great post. Please not that Portainer now has official support for ARM arch using the Docker image portainer/portainer:arm ! We’ve also added more features to support swarm mode services in our latest release.

    1. Hello Anthony, thanks for reading this post. Just can’t wait to update about Portainer ARM support in my blog post. I have updated this info in my blog. Thanks a lot.

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