Docker on Windows 10, are containers for me?

WOW! Needless to say I was not super optimistic when I started the Docker discovery project. Man was I wrong, I am super impressed with the latest release and will continue to explore all the potential uses for Windows Containers.  It was probably about 1.5 to 2 years ago that I had first heard of it. Generally speaking I do most of my work with Windows, so it was essential that I could run the engine on Windows. So when I first gave it a shot, I started reading the documentation and it said I had to load VirtualBox, install Ubuntu, etc. NOT A WINDOWS solution at all.  It was laughable! I mean, just say its Docker in a box that you can run in a Windows machine.

Anyway, No big deal. I was fine with waiting. I’m glad I never gave up. The past few hours has been well worth it, and with some of my upcoming projects the discovery project I started is going pay off big time.  Another huge piece to the equation was that Microsoft finally supported Hyper-V in a nested environment, and finally the native support for the Docker container Engine.

So a quick rundown of my current test environment….  I’m running a MacBook Pro, with VMware Fusion installed (Thank you @VMworld 2016 for the key!). Inside of fusion I have a Windows 10 x64 vm, where all the Docker Magic happens.

I first started with what I would consider the normal scenario, someone wanting to run a Linux Container… So I enabled Hyper-V, don’t forget to edit the Base vm to enable VTX or you will get errors.  Oh, and make sure your vm has enough physical requirements, that bit me in the ass a few times as I continued to redeploy. I followed the steps found here to get Linux Containers to run on Windows. It was simple and flawless. I can think of so many applications where these containers could be useful in my daily job.

Ok, on to what I’ve been excited for, Windows Containers on Windows. Sadly this is all about Windows 10, I don’t have licensing for Server 2016, and its not worth me wasting my time on a trial when Windows 10 works perfectly fine. So my first mistake was mixing up the page linked up above (which I used to install Docker) and this page for running Windows containers. I kept looking for a toggle switch for the Docker engine to switch from Linux to Windows, I thought I was crazy. RTFM! and when you are done… RTFM again! When I was trying to run the Windows containers, it was only available in the Beta, and I didn’t install the Beta, I had installed the latest stable release. That was a simple problem to fix….

The  link above is probably a bit more complicated than it needs to be for installing, Now you can download the latest software from Docker. Enable the Hyper-V feature, ensure the the Windows Machine has VTX or virtualization technology enabled, then install Docker, the software installer does all the work for you.

Then the real fun begins, at first, I admit, I didn’t get it. What’s the benefit? Why am I doing this? Why doesn’t it work? What did I do wrong? Am I wasting my time? What else could I be doing? Golf?

So if you have Docker installed, and have toggled over to the Windows on Windows engine. I recommend you start on this page, at the ‘Running Windows Containers’ section. And stop at ‘Using docker-compose on Windows’. I never ran through the Music store or IIS type demo’s. My primary function is just using them for PowerShell applications.

So after doing the ‘Hello World’ piece I needed a break, so I took a couple weeks off.  I’m not sure if that was a good or a bad thing, because it took me a few minutes to get my mind back into the idea of what Docker could do for me and how I get it to work. I found a page on Microsoft’s website that outlined how to create a Dockerfile. This was the single greatest link I found it really laid out the concept of how this file can build an image. And how I can tailor the Container for my needs. Once I read this page, I was ready to go, and quickly started playing with building images. Did it go smoothly? NO. It was a lot of trial and error to get the commands I wanted to run, work properly.  Nothing too crazy, just tedious at first. I also started with WindowsServerCore, vs. Nano, so that I was working with a ‘full’ OS.

My Initial requirements:


That’s it, of course I have more plans, but If I could get these pieces working, I am in business! Problem #1, VMware does not like you to download PowerCLI from the Internet without logging into their website, so I had to load those files on the host. I chose 6.5, because they are just modules, no true install required. Hooray! Ok, I know the VMware guys are wondering why I am not using the PowerCLI Docker Image. I currently only have one reason, the Powershell/.net MySQL plugin, I need it, and it won’t work on Powershell for Linux (to my knowledge or Nano, see below).

Here is the Dockerfile I have for my first pass, Pretty basic, but gets the job done. Here is the link to pull the ‘Invoke-Automation’ image as well!

# Invoke-Automation Windows Dockerfile

# Indicates that the windowsservercore image will be used as the base image.
FROM microsoft/windowsservercore

# Metadata indicating an image maintainer.

# Copy install files to the container
COPY mysql-connector.msi c:/temp/
COPY powercli.exe c:/temp/

# Install PowerCLI
RUN powershell Start-Process c:\temp\powercli.exe -ArgumentList '/s /qn /w /V"/qr"' -Wait

# Move PowerCLI Modules to correct Directory
RUN powershell Move-Item -Path 'C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\Infrastructure\PowerCLI\Modules\*' -Destination 'C:\Program Files\WindowsPowerShell\Modules'

# Install MySql connector
RUN powershell Start-Process c:\temp\mysql-connector.msi -ArgumentList '/quiet /passive' -Wait

# Copy PowerWamp Module to container
ADD c:/temp/

# Copy PowerLumber Module to container
ADD c:/temp/

# Add powershell script
COPY verifyInstall.ps1 c:/temp/

# Validate Imported Modules
RUN powershell -executionpolicy bypass c:\temp\verifyInstall.ps1

# Sets a command or process that will run each time a container is run from the new image.
CMD [ "powershell" ]

Once you have Docker installed, you can pull my image:

docker pull jpsider/invoke-automation
# then run the Container
docker run -it jpsider/invoke-automation
#run this file to import the modules to the console

This will import the modules mentioned above into the current console and print a list of active modules into a log file in the c:\temp directory.

I also created a Nano Dockerfile, however like the Powershell for Linux, It’s missing some assemblies etc, for things to get fully working. So mileage will vary! Here is a useful link for Tagging, pushing and pulling Docker Images, and the Command line reference.

As I continue to pull all of these technologies together I will have more posts, But I really enjoyed the discovery project with Docker, lots of fun and a really cool technology.

I’m interested in hearing whether you could use this ServerCore Image, or any other feedback you might have.


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