Docker command line in WSL


Using containers and Docker is the norm for a lot of developers out there nowadays, but using it on Windows can be painful. Here is a little documentation on how I’ve been using Docker command line in WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux).

The main problem I was having with using Docker on Windows is quite simple: Docker is basically a series of command line tools (docker, docker-compose, docker-machine, …) and the Windows command prompt is not quite nice to use.

For a while, I was using Docker from a git-bash shell. It is better than nothing, but then I needed more and more Linux tools and got quite annoyed. In order to make things easier, I decided to install Ubuntu directly on my Windows 10 machine through WSL. In order to get that installed, simply follow this tutorial.

To run Docker on Windows, you have two choices:

  1. Docker for Windows, uses Hyper-V to run a Linux VM for Docker;
  2. Docker Toolbox, uses VirtualBox to run the Linux VM for Docker

Both of these will get the job done. I had to go with Docker Toolbox for one simple reason: I don’t have a Enterprise, Professional, or Education version of Windows 10, and it is needed to get Hyper-V running.

Once you have Docker (for Windows or Toolbox) running, you should be able to use all the command line commands through the Windows command prompt or git-bash. In order to get everything running on Ubuntu you will need to do one last thing: configure your Linux environment.

The first thing you will need to get your environment up-and-running is the value of your DOCKER_HOST environment variable. To get this value, simply run echo %DOCKER_HOST%  in a Windows command prompt (or  echo $DOCKER_HOST  in a git-bash console). In my case, the value is tcp:// . This gives you the IP/Port where your Docker daemon is listening.

Armed with this value, you will need to edit your bash initialization script in your Ubuntu installation. In order to do so, simply add the following at the end of your ~/.bash_profile file:

The value associated with DOCKER_HOST is the one we got a bit earlier, and the value associated with DOCKER_CERT_PATH is a file inside your Windows user’s home directory.

You should now be able to install the docker package and use any command line tools contained in it!


Tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply