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Note: This release of Docker deprecates the Boot2Docker command line in favor of Docker Machine. Use the Docker Toolbox to install Docker Machine as well as the other Docker tools.

You install Docker using Docker Toolbox. Docker Toolbox includes the following Docker tools:

  • Docker Machine for running the docker-machine binary
  • Docker Engine for running the docker binary
  • Kitematic, the Docker GUI
  • a shell preconfigured for a Docker command-line environment
  • Oracle VM VirtualBox

Because the Docker daemon uses Linux-specific kernel features, you can’t run Docker natively in Windows. Instead, you must use docker-machine to create and attach to a Docker VM on your machine. This VM hosts Docker for you on your Windows system.

The Docker VM is lightweight Linux virtual machine made specifically to run the Docker daemon on Windows. The VirtualBox VM runs completely from RAM, is a small ~24MB download, and boots in approximately 5s.


Your machine must be running Windows 7 or newer to run Docker. To find out what version of Windows you have:

  1. Right click the Windows Start Menu and choose System.

    Which version

    If you are using an unsupported version of Windows, you should consider upgrading your operating system in order to try out Docker.

  2. Make sure your CPU supports virtualization technology and virtualization support is enabled in BIOS and recognized by Windows.

    For Windows 8, 8.1 or 10

    Choose Start > Task Manager. On Windows 10, click more details. Navigate to the Performance tab. Under CPU you should see the following:

    Release page

    If virtualization is not enabled on your system, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for enabling it.

    For Windows 7

    Run the Microsoft® Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool and follow the on-screen instructions.

Note: If you have Docker hosts running and you don’t wish to do a Docker Toolbox installation, you can install the docker.exe using the unofficial Windows package manager Chocolately. For information on how to do this, see Docker package on Chocolatey.

Learn the key concepts before installing

In a Docker installation on Linux, your machine is both the localhost and the Docker host. In networking, localhost means your computer. The Docker host is the machine on which the containers run.

On a typical Linux installation, the Docker client, the Docker daemon, and any containers run directly on your localhost. This means you can address ports on a Docker container using standard localhost addressing such as localhost:8000 or

Linux Architecture Diagram

In an Windows installation, the docker daemon is running inside a Linux virtual machine. You use the Windows Docker client to talk to the Docker host VM. Your Docker containers run inside this host.

Windows Architecture Diagram

In Windows, the Docker host address is the address of the Linux VM. When you start the VM with docker-machine it is assigned an IP address. When you start a container, the ports on a container map to ports on the VM. To see this in practice, work through the exercises on this page.


If you have VirtualBox running, you must shut it down before running the installer.

  1. Go to the Docker Toolbox page.

  2. Click the installer link to download.

  3. Install Docker Toolbox by double-clicking the installer.

    The installer launches the “Setup - Docker Toolbox” dialog.

    Install Docker Toolbox

  4. Press “Next” to install the toolbox.

    The installer presents you with options to customize the standard installation. By default, the standard Docker Toolbox installation:

    • installs executables for the Docker tools in C:\Program Files\Docker Toolbox
    • install VirtualBox; or updates any existing installation
    • adds a Docker Inc. folder to your program shortcuts
    • updates your PATH environment variable
    • adds desktop icons for the Docker Quickstart Terminal and Kitematic

    This installation assumes the defaults are acceptable.

  5. Press “Next” until you reach the “Ready to Install” page.

    The system prompts you for your password.


  6. Press “Install” to continue with the installation.

    When it completes, the installer provides you with some information you can use to complete some common tasks.

    All finished

  7. Press “Finish” to exit.

Running a Docker Container

To run a Docker container, you:

  • create a new (or start an existing) Docker virtual machine
  • switch your environment to your new VM
  • use the docker client to create, load, and manage containers

Once you create a machine, you can reuse it as often as you like. Like any VirtualBox VM, it maintains its configuration between uses.

There are several ways to use the installed tools, from the Docker Quickstart Terminal or from your shell.

Using the Docker Quickstart Terminal

  1. Find the Docker Quickstart Terminal icon on your Desktop and double-click to launch it.

    The application:

    • opens a terminal window
    • creates a default VM if it doesn’t exist, and starts the VM after
    • points the terminal environment to this VM

    Once the launch completes, you can run docker commands.

  2. Verify your setup succeeded by running the hello-world container.

    $ docker run hello-world
    Unable to find image 'hello-world:latest' locally
    511136ea3c5a: Pull complete
    31cbccb51277: Pull complete
    e45a5af57b00: Pull complete
    hello-world:latest: The image you are pulling has been verified.
    Important: image verification is a tech preview feature and should not be
    relied on to provide security.
    Status: Downloaded newer image for hello-world:latest
    Hello from Docker.
    This message shows that your installation appears to be working correctly.
    To generate this message, Docker took the following steps:
    1. The Docker client contacted the Docker daemon.
    2. The Docker daemon pulled the "hello-world" image from the Docker Hub.
       (Assuming it was not already locally available.)
    3. The Docker daemon created a new container from that image which runs the
       executable that produces the output you are currently reading.
    4. The Docker daemon streamed that output to the Docker client, which sent it
       to your terminal.
    To try something more ambitious, you can run an Ubuntu container with:
    $ docker run -it ubuntu bash
    For more examples and ideas, visit:

Using Docker from Windows Command Prompt (cmd.exe)

  1. Launch a Windows Command Prompt (cmd.exe).

    The docker-machine command requires ssh.exe in your PATH environment variable. This .exe is in the MsysGit bin folder.

  2. Add this to the %PATH% environment variable by running:

    set PATH=%PATH%;"c:\Program Files (x86)\Git\bin"
  3. Create a new Docker VM.

    docker-machine create --driver virtualbox my-default
    Creating VirtualBox VM...
    Creating SSH key...
    Starting VirtualBox VM...
    Starting VM...
    To see how to connect Docker to this machine, run: docker-machine env my-default

    The command also creates a machine configuration in the C:\USERS\USERNAME\.docker\machine\machines directory. You only need to run the create command once. Then, you can use docker-machine to start, stop, query, and otherwise manage the VM from the command line.

  4. List your available machines.

    C:\Users\mary> docker-machine ls
    NAME                ACTIVE   DRIVER       STATE     URL                         SWARM
    my-default        *        virtualbox   Running   tcp://

    If you have previously installed the deprecated Boot2Docker application or run the Docker Quickstart Terminal, you may have a dev VM as well.

  5. Get the environment commands for your new VM.

    C:\Users\mary> docker-machine env --shell cmd my-default
  6. Connect your shell to the my-default machine.

    C:\Users\mary> eval "$(docker-machine env my-default)"
  7. Run the hello-world container to verify your setup.

    C:\Users\mary> docker run hello-world

Using Docker from PowerShell

  1. Launch a Windows PowerShell window.

  2. Add ssh.exe to your PATH:

    PS C:\Users\mary> $Env:Path = "${Env:Path};c:\Program Files (x86)\Git\bin"
  3. Create a new Docker VM.

    PS C:\Users\mary> docker-machine create --driver virtualbox my-default
  4. List your available machines.

    C:\Users\mary> docker-machine ls
    NAME                ACTIVE   DRIVER       STATE     URL                         SWARM
    my-default        *        virtualbox   Running   tcp://
  5. Get the environment commands for your new VM.

    C:\Users\mary> docker-machine env --shell powershell my-default
  6. Connect your shell to the my-default machine.

    C:\Users\mary> eval "$(docker-machine env my-default)"
  7. Run the hello-world container to verify your setup.

    C:\Users\mary> docker run hello-world

Learn about your Toolbox installation

Toolbox installs the Docker Engine binary in the C:\Program Files\Docker Toolbox directory. When you use the Docker Quickstart Terminal or create a default VM manually, Docker Machine updates the C:\USERS\USERNAME\.docker\machine\machines\default folder to your system. This folder contains the configuration for the VM.

You can create multiple VMs on your system with Docker Machine. Therefore, you may end up with multiple VM folders if you have created more than one VM. To remove a VM, use the docker-machine rm <machine-name> command.

Migrate from Boot2Docker

If you were using Boot2Docker previously, you have a pre-existing Docker boot2docker-vm VM on your local system. To allow Docker Machine to manage this older VM, you can migrate it.

  1. Open a terminal or the Docker CLI on your system.

  2. Type the following command.

    $ docker-machine create -d virtualbox --virtualbox-import-boot2docker-vm boot2docker-vm docker-vm
  3. Use the docker-machine command to interact with the migrated VM.

The docker-machine subcommands are slightly different than the boot2docker subcommands. The table below lists the equivalent docker-machine subcommand and what it does:

boot2docker docker-machine docker-machine description
init create Creates a new docker host.
up start Starts a stopped machine.
ssh ssh Runs a command or interactive ssh session on the machine.
save - Not applicable.
down stop Stops a running machine.
poweroff stop Stops a running machine.
reset restart Restarts a running machine.
config inspect Prints machine configuration details.
status ls Lists all machines and their status.
info inspect Displays a machine’s details.
ip ip Displays the machine’s ip address.
shellinit env Displays shell commands needed to configure your shell to interact with a machine
delete rm Removes a machine.
download - Not applicable.
upgrade upgrade Upgrades a machine’s Docker client to the latest stable release.

Upgrade Docker Toolbox

To upgrade Docker Toolbox, download an re-run the Docker Toolbox installer.

Container port redirection

If you are curious, the username for the Docker default VM is docker and the password is tcuser. The latest version of docker-machine sets up a host only network adaptor which provides access to the container’s ports.

If you run a container with a published port:

$ docker run --rm -i -t -p 80:80 nginx

Then you should be able to access that nginx server using the IP address reported to you using:

$ docker-machine ip

Typically, the IP is, but it could get changed by VirtualBox’s DHCP implementation.

Login with PUTTY instead of using the CMD

Docker Machine generates and uses the public/private key pair in your %USERPROFILE%\.ssh directory so to log in you need to use the private key from this same directory. The private key needs to be converted into the format PuTTY uses. You can do this with puttygen:

  1. Open puttygen.exe and load (“File”->“Load” menu) the private key from (you may need to change to the All Files (*.*) filter)

  2. Click “Save Private Key”.

  3. Use the saved file to login with PuTTY using docker@


You can uninstall Docker Toolbox using Window’s standard process for removing programs. This process does not remove the docker-install.exe file. You must delete that file yourself.

Learn more

You can continue with the Docker User Guide. If you are interested in using the Kitematic GUI, see the Kitematic user guide.

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