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Working with docker on windows 7, 8

So its no secret I'm a docker fan. In-fact, I've been a fan of docker since the early betas. I work in an office, with a high amount of people running some form of windows, and I hear this quote quite a lot.

Docker for windows only supports windows 10, you can't use docker on windows 7, 8, etc.

Now people in the docker community know you can run docker on many operating systems. The docker toolkits for windows and mac provide GUI abstractions over the docker services. However, we can use the actual tools these GUI wrappers use to work with docker containers. In the early days of docker, a tool existed called boot2docker. This was replaced with a newer tool called docker-machine. These are the actual tools the docker toolkits use to provision linux virtual machines to help you work with containers.

Setting up your environment

You will need docker, docker-machine, and docker-compose in your path. These are simple executables, the easiest way to get them is to use chocolatey a package manager for windows (think brew, apt-get, etc.). You will also need a hypervisor (tool that can run virtual machines). In this case I'm using Virtualbox, but you may use Hyper-V, etc. Virtual box is a lightweight hypervisor (it can run vm's) created by oracle.

choco install -y docker docker-machine  docker-compose
choco install -y virtualbox

Ok, next you will need to use docker-machine to create you a virtual machine running Linux. We'll give it the name mydock, you can name it however you like.

docker-machine create --driver virtualbox mydock

Now when we open a new terminal every time we'll need docker-machine to configure our shell with some environmental variables. The env command will spit out a script to set the variables for your shell. You can pipe this to invoke-expression in powershell, or copy and execute the output in cmd.exe


docker-machine env mydock | invoke-expression

Now you have done that, you should be up and running. Since you are running a virtual machine, its likely it will stop when you reboot your computer. You can start it with docker-machine start mydock.

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