Troubleshooting the Docker daemon

This page describes how to troubleshoot and debug the daemon if you run into issues.

You can turn on debugging on the daemon to learn about the runtime activity of the daemon and to aid in troubleshooting. If the daemon is unresponsive, you can also force a full stack trace of all threads to be added to the daemon log by sending the SIGUSR signal to the Docker daemon.

Troubleshoot conflicts between the daemon.json and startup scripts

If you use a daemon.json file and also pass options to the dockerd command manually or using start-up scripts, and these options conflict, Docker fails to start with an error such as:

unable to configure the Docker daemon with file /etc/docker/daemon.json:
the following directives are specified both as a flag and in the configuration
file: hosts: (from flag: [unix:///var/run/docker.sock], from file: [tcp://])

If you see an error similar to this one and you are starting the daemon manually with flags, you may need to adjust your flags or the daemon.json to remove the conflict.


If you see this specific error, continue to the next section for a workaround.

If you are starting Docker using your operating system's init scripts, you may need to override the defaults in these scripts in ways that are specific to the operating system.

Use the hosts key in daemon.json with systemd

One notable example of a configuration conflict that's difficult to troubleshoot is when you want to specify a different daemon address from the default. Docker listens on a socket by default. On Debian and Ubuntu systems using systemd, this means that a host flag -H is always used when starting dockerd. If you specify a hosts entry in the daemon.json, this causes a configuration conflict (as in the above message) and Docker fails to start.

To work around this problem, create a new file /etc/systemd/system/docker.service.d/docker.conf with the following contents, to remove the -H argument that's used when starting the daemon by default.


There are other times when you might need to configure systemd with Docker, such as configuring a HTTP or HTTPS proxy.


If you override this option without specifying a hosts entry in the daemon.json or a -H flag when starting Docker manually, Docker fails to start.

Run sudo systemctl daemon-reload before attempting to start Docker. If Docker starts successfully, it's now listening on the IP address specified in the hosts key of the daemon.json instead of a socket.


Setting hosts in the daemon.json isn't supported on Docker Desktop for Windows or Docker Desktop for Mac.

Out of memory issues

If your containers attempt to use more memory than the system has available, you may experience an Out of Memory (OOM) exception, and a container, or the Docker daemon, might be stopped by the kernel OOM killer. To prevent this from happening, ensure that your application runs on hosts with adequate memory and see Understand the risks of running out of memory.

Check whether Docker is running

The operating-system independent way to check whether Docker is running is to ask Docker, using the docker info command.

You can also use operating system utilities, such as sudo systemctl is-active docker or sudo status docker or sudo service docker status, or checking the service status using Windows utilities.

Finally, you can check in the process list for the dockerd process, using commands like ps or top.