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Note: Docker has been tested on Windows 7 and 8.1; it may also run on older versions. Your processor needs to support hardware virtualization.

The Docker Engine uses Linux-specific kernel features, so to run it on Windows we need to use a lightweight virtual machine (VM). You use the Windows Docker Client to control the virtualized Docker Engine to build, run, and manage Docker containers.

To make this process easier, we’ve designed a helper application called Boot2Docker which creates a Linux virtual machine on Windows to run Docker on a Linux operating system.

Although you will be using Windows Docker client, the docker engine hosting the containers will still be running on Linux. Until the Docker engine for Windows is developed, you can launch only Linux containers from your Windows machine.

Windows Architecture Diagram



  1. Download the latest release of the Docker for Windows Installer.
  2. Run the installer, which will install Docker Client for Windows, VirtualBox, Git for Windows (MSYS-git), the boot2docker Linux ISO, and the Boot2Docker management tool.
  3. Run the Boot2Docker Start shortcut from your Desktop or “Program Files → Boot2Docker for Windows”. The Start script will ask you to enter an ssh key passphrase - the simplest (but least secure) is to just hit [Enter].

  4. The Boot2Docker Start will start a unix shell already configured to manage Docker running inside the virtual machine. Run docker version to see if it is working correctly:

Running Docker

Note: if you are using a remote Docker daemon, such as Boot2Docker, then do not type the sudo before the docker commands shown in the documentation’s examples.

Boot2Docker Start will automatically start a shell with environment variables correctly set so you can start using Docker right away:

Let’s try the hello-world example image. Run

$ docker run hello-world

This should download the very small hello-world image and print a Hello from Docker. message.

Using Docker from Windows Command Line Prompt (cmd.exe)

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

Boot2Docker command requires ssh.exe to be in the PATH, therefore we need to include bin folder of the Git installation (which has ssh.exe) to the %PATH% environment variable by running:

set PATH=%PATH%;"c:\Program Files (x86)\Git\bin"

and then we can run the boot2docker start command to start the Boot2Docker VM. (Run boot2docker init command if you get an error saying machine does not exist.) Then copy the instructions for cmd.exe to set the environment variables to your console window and you are ready to run docker commands such as docker ps:

Using Docker from PowerShell

Launch a PowerShell window, then add ssh.exe to your PATH:

$Env:Path = "${Env:Path};c:\Program Files (x86)\Git\bin"

and after running the boot2docker start command it will print PowerShell commands to set the environment variables to connect to the Docker daemon running inside the VM. Run these commands and you are ready to run docker commands such as docker ps:

NOTE: You can alternatively run boot2docker shellinit | Invoke-Expression command to set the environment variables instead of copying and pasting on PowerShell.

Further Details

The Boot2Docker management tool provides several commands:

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


  1. Download the latest release of the Docker for Windows Installer

  2. Run the installer, which will update the Boot2Docker management tool.

  3. To upgrade your existing virtual machine, open a terminal and run:

    boot2docker stop
    boot2docker download
    boot2docker start

Container port redirection

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

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 to you using:

boot2docker ip

Typically, it is, but it could get changed by Virtualbox’s DHCP implementation.

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

Login with PUTTY instead of using the CMD

Boot2Docker 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:

  • Open puttygen.exe and load (“File”->“Load” menu) the private key from %USERPROFILE%\.ssh\id_boot2docker
  • then click: “Save Private Key”.
  • Then use the saved file to login with PuTTY using docker@


You can uninstall Boot2Docker using Window’s standard process for removing programs. This process does not remove the docker-install.exe file. You must delete that file yourself.


If you have Docker hosts running and if you don’t wish to do a Boot2Docker installation, you can install the docker.exe using unofficial Windows package manager Chocolately. For information on how to do this, see Docker package on Chocolatey.

Jul 25, 2015 at 3:54pm (PST) BUILD_DATA