Before we start, a little bit of intro on Containers, its an abstraction at the app layer that packages code and dependencies together. Multiple containers can run on the same machine and share the OS kernel with other containers, each running as isolated processes in userspace. Containers take up less space than VMs (container images are typically tens of MBs in size), and start almost instantly.
A container image is a lightweight, stand-alone, executable package of a piece of software that includes everything needed to run it: code, runtime, system tools, system libraries, settings.
Containers run apps natively on the host machine’s kernel. They have better performance characteristics than virtual machines that only get virtual access to host resources through a hypervisor. Containers can get native access, each one running in a discrete process, taking no more memory than any other executable.
Docker as we know, is an open platform for developers and sysadmins to build, ship, and run distributed applications, whether on laptops, data center VMs, or the cloud. Docker provides an API for interacting with the Docker daemon (called the Docker Engine API).
The Docker API has allowed limitless options for interfacing with Docker engine, containers, and images to emerge from CLIs to desktop applications and web-based management tools. Everything the Docker client can do can be done with the API. Below GUI tools extensively uses API to interface with the Docker engine.
With this context now, let us check the TOP 6 GUI tools for managing Docker environments.
Docker Desktop Dashboard has been introduced in the latest release of Docker Desktop. It provides a simple interface that enables you to interact with containers and applications and manage the lifecycle of your applications directly from your machine.
The Docker Desktop Dashboard offers the following :
- A GUI to abstract core information from the CLI
- Access to container logs directly in the UI to search and explore container behavior
- Access to combined Compose logs from the UI to understand Compose applications
- Quick visibility into ports being used by containers
- Monitor container resource utilization
To access the Docker Desktop Dashboard, from the Docker menu, select Dashboard. The Dashboard provides a runtime view of all your containers and applications.
Kitematic is a simple application for managing Docker containers on Mac, Linux, and Windows. It is an open-source project built to simplify and streamline using Docker on a Mac or Windows PC. Kitematic automates the Docker installation and setup process and provides an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) for running Docker containers. Kitematic integrates with Docker Machine to provision a VirtualBox VM and installs the Docker Engine locally on your machine.
Some of the key advantages are
- Fast and Easy Setup – one-click install gets Docker running and lets you control your app containers from a graphical user interface (GUI)
- Easily search and pull your favorite images on Docker Hub.
- Seamlessly switch between Kitematic GUI or Docker CLI to run and manage your application containers.
- Automatically map ports, visually change environment variables, configuring volumes, streamline logs, and CLI access to containers.
You can download and install Kitematic in one of the following ways:
- Choose Kitematic from the Docker for Mac or Docker for Windows menu to get started with the Kitematic install.
- Install Docker Toolbox (on older systems that do not meet the requirements of Docker for Mac or Docker for Windows).
- Download Kitematic directly from the Kitematic releases page.
Kitematic’s documentation can be found here.
Docker Desktop Dashboard has been introduced in the latest release of Docker Desktop, bringing the best of the Kitematic features to its Desktop customers. As a result, Docker archived the Docker Kitematic Project at 2020.
Portainer is a simple management solution for Docker, it consists of a web UI that allows you to easily manage your Docker containers, images, networks, and volumes.
Portainer is meant to be as simple to deploy as it is to use. It consists of a single container that can run on any Docker engine (can be deployed as a Linux container or a Windows native container).
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 mode.
Deploying Portainer is as simple as:
$ docker run -d -p 9000:9000 --restart always -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock -v /opt/portainer:/data portainer/portainer
You can now access Portainer by pointing your web browser at
Portainer makes use of the Docker API to handle its interactions and monitoring, but for automation, it also exposes its own HTTP API and template file format. Portainer covers most major areas of Docker you would want to interact with, offering creation, editing, management, monitoring, and deletion of containers, as well as the ability to add, remove, and view images, networks, and volumes, but not edit them.
You can also use docker-compose to deploy Portainer.
A public demo is available here.
Download & Documentation :
Portainer download & documentation can be found here.
A recent study on container adoption cited security as the most common barrier to containerization. And as 96% of applications have open source software components, organizations need to take measures to address open source security throughout the entire DevOps process. Adopt best practices, Docker security tools.
DockStation is a developer-centric application for managing projects based on Docker. Instead of lots of CLI commands you can monitor, configure, and manage services and containers while using just a GUI.
Some of the key advantages are
- Work with services and containers: The DockStation helps to manage projects and container settings, e.g. bind localhost to a project, simple version changing, map ports, assign and reassign environment variables, change entrypoint and start command instructions, configure volumes, quick access to image documentation, quick services containers cleanup and a lot of other useful functionality.
- Work with remote Docker containers: The application helps to manage and observe remote containers. We provide many tools, such as logs monitoring, searching logs, grouping, running tools, and getting container info. We also provide amazing authorization tools for remote connections.
- Independence: It doesn’t require local Docker installation for controlling remote containers. It can as well be used as a management and monitoring tool for remote Docker containers. Docker Machine support (Oracle VirtualBox, VMware Fusion, Microsoft Hyper-V).
docker-compose.yml filewhich can be used even outside the application, using the native Docker Compose CLI commands.
Backward Compatibility: The application works with Docker Compose. Use your own or third-party docker-compose.yml configs. DockStation generates a clean and native
- Stats monitor: Great and powerful tools for common, multiple, and single monitoring of container resources. Easy tracking CPU usage, Memory usage, Networks I/O, Blocks I/O.
- GUI: The application combines many CLI commands into a convenient graphical interface. So that instead of many commands only one click is needed.
- Observer: With the application, it’s very convenient to view the status of containers and easily view their logs
- Create projects: Creating projects has never been easier. You can create a project in a single click.
- Parser (beta): We have a built-in parser that will help, without any problems and deep knowledge of Docker Compose, convert “docker run” command to Docker Compose format and quickly start working with a project and containers.
DockStation can be downloaded from GitHub here.
DockStation documentation can be found here.
Built on Docker Swarm, Shipyard gives you the ability to manage Docker resources including containers, images, private registries, and more.
Shipyard differs from other management applications in that it promotes composability and is 100% compatible with the Docker Remote API. Shipyard manages containers, images, nodes, private registries cluster-wide as well as providing authentication and role-based access control.
Shipyard project is retired for now.
Docker Compose UI is a web interface for Docker Compose. Its minimal HTTP API on top of Docker Compose while maintaining full interoperability with Docker Compose CLI. The application can be deployed as a single container, there are no dependencies nor databases to install.
Docker compose UI is simple, run the below command and wait while Docker pulls the container from the Docker Hub.
docker run \ --name docker-compose-ui \ -p 5000:5000 \ -w /opt/docker-compose-projects/ \ -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock \ francescou/docker-compose-ui:1.10.0
Then open your browser to
Download & Documentation :
Docker compose UI documentation can be found here.
Rancher is an open-source software platform that enables organizations to run and manage Docker and Kubernetes in production. With Rancher, organizations no longer have to build a container services platform from scratch using a distinct set of open source technologies. Rancher supplies the entire software stack needed to manage containers in production.
Rancher software consists of four major components:
- Infrastructure Orchestration
- Container Orchestration & Scheduling
- Application Catalog
- Enterprise-Grade control
Start the Rancher container using the following
docker run command:
sudo docker run -d --restart=unless-stopped -p 8080:8080 rancher/server:stable
Rancher offers similar features to other web-based GUIs but offers interface elements to add the extra features that Rancher offers. For example, to change the number of WordPress instances, click the plus or minus icons on the container page. The normal resource constraints apply for scaling container instances, e.g. you can’t have more than one container running on a Docker host that uses the same port as another.
Note – Rancher version 1.6 was a container management platform built on Docker but whereas Rancher 2.x builds on Kubernetes.
Download & Documentation :
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