Installing Docker on Mac OS X

Note: Docker is supported on Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" or newer.

Because the Docker Engine uses Linux-specific kernel features, you'll need to use a lightweight virtual machine (VM) to run it on OS X. You use the OS X Docker client to control the virtualized Docker Engine to build, run, and manage Docker containers.

To make this process easier, we've built a helper application called Boot2Docker that installs a virtual machine (using VirtualBox) that's all set up to run the Docker daemon.



  1. Download the latest release of the Docker for OS X Installer (Look for the green Boot2Docker-x.x.x.pkg button near the bottom of the page.)

  2. Run the installer by double-clicking the downloaded package, which will install a VirtualBox VM, Docker itself, and the Boot2Docker management tool.

  3. Locate the Boot2Docker app in your Applications folder and run it. Or, you can initialize Boot2Docker from the command line by running:

     $ boot2docker init
     $ boot2docker start
     $ export DOCKER_HOST=tcp://$(boot2docker ip 2>/dev/null):2375

A terminal window will open and you'll see the virtual machine starting up. Once you have an initialized virtual machine, you can control it with boot2docker stop and boot2docker start.

Note: If you see a message in the terminal that looks something like this:

To connect the Docker client to the Docker daemon, please set: export DOCKER_HOST=tcp://

you can safely set the evironment variable as instructed.

View the Boot2Docker ReadMe for more information.


  1. Download the latest release of the Docker for OS X Installer

  2. If Boot2Docker is currently running, stop it with boot2docker stop. Then, run the installer package, which will update Docker and the Boot2Docker management tool.

  3. To complete the upgrade, you also need to update your existing virtual machine. Open a terminal window and run:

    $ boot2docker stop
    $ boot2docker download
    $ boot2docker start

This will download an .iso containing a fresh VM and start it up.

Running Docker

From your terminal, you can test that Docker is running with our small hello-world example image: Start the vm (boot2docker start) and then run:

$ docker run hello-world

This should download the hello-world image, which then creates a small container with an executable that prints a brief Hello from Docker. message.

Container port redirection

The latest version of boot2docker sets up a host-only network adaptor which provides access to the container's ports.

If you run a container with an exposed 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 by:

$ boot2docker ip

Typically, it is, but VirtualBox's DHCP implementation might change this address in the future.

Further details

If you are curious, the username for the boot2docker default user is docker and the password is tcuser.

The Boot2Docker management tool provides several additional commands for working with the VM and Docker:

$ ./boot2docker
Usage: ./boot2docker [<options>]
{help|init|up|ssh|save|down|poweroff|reset|restart|config|status|info|ip|delete|download|version} [<args>]

Continue with the User Guide.

For further information or to report issues, please visit the Boot2Docker site.