Install Docker Desktop on Debian

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

This page contains information on how to install, launch, and upgrade Docker Desktop on a Debian distribution.

Prerequisites

To install Docker Desktop successfully, you must:

  • Meet the system requirements.
  • Have a 64-bit version of Debian 11.
  • Uninstall the tech preview or beta version of Docker Desktop for Linux. Run:
$ sudo apt remove docker-desktop

For a complete cleanup, remove configuration and data files at $HOME/.docker/desktop, the symlink at /usr/local/bin/com.docker.cli, and purge the remaining systemd service files.

$ rm -r $HOME/.docker/desktop
$ sudo rm /usr/local/bin/com.docker.cli
$ sudo apt purge docker-desktop

Note

If you have installed the Docker Desktop for Linux tech preview or beta version, you need to remove all files that were generated by those packages (eg. ~/.config/systemd/user/docker-desktop.service, ~/.local/share/systemd/user/docker-desktop.service).

For a Gnome Desktop environment, you must also install AppIndicator and KStatusNotifierItem Gnome extensions.

For non-Gnome Desktop environments, gnome-terminal must be installed:

$ sudo apt install gnome-terminal

Install Docker Desktop

Recommended approach to install Docker Desktop on Debian:

  1. Set up Docker’s package repository.

  2. Download latest DEB package.

  3. Install the package with apt as follows:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install ./docker-desktop-<version>-<arch>.deb

Note

At the end of the installation process, apt displays an error due to installing a downloaded package. You can ignore this error message.

 N: Download is performed unsandboxed as root, as file '/home/user/Downloads/docker-desktop.deb' couldn't be accessed by user '_apt'. - pkgAcquire::Run (13: Permission denied)

There are a few post-install configuration steps done through the post-install script contained in the deb package.

The post-install script:

  • Sets the capability on the Docker Desktop binary to map privileged ports and set resource limits.
  • Adds a DNS name for Kubernetes to /etc/hosts.
  • Creates a link from /usr/bin/docker to /usr/local/bin/com.docker.cli.

Launch Docker Desktop

To start Docker Desktop for Linux, search Docker Desktop on the Applications menu and open it. This launches the whale menu icon and opens the Docker Dashboard, reporting the status of Docker Desktop.

Alternatively, open a terminal and run:

$ systemctl --user start docker-desktop

When Docker Desktop starts, it creates a dedicated context that the Docker CLI can use as a target and sets it as the current context in use. This is to avoid a clash with a local Docker Engine that may be running on the Linux host and using the default context. On shutdown, Docker Desktop resets the current context to the previous one.

The Docker Desktop installer updates Docker Compose and the Docker CLI binaries on the host. It installs Docker Compose V2 and gives users the choice to link it as docker-compose from the Settings panel. Docker Desktop installs the new Docker CLI binary that includes cloud-integration capabilities in /usr/local/bin and creates a symlink to the classic Docker CLI at /usr/local/bin/com.docker.cli.

After you’ve successfully installed Docker Desktop, you can check the versions of these binaries by running the following commands:

$ docker compose version
Docker Compose version v2.5.0

$ docker --version
Docker version 20.10.14, build a224086349

$ docker version
Client: Docker Engine - Community
Cloud integration: 1.0.24
Version:           20.10.14
API version:       1.41
...

To enable Docker Desktop to start on login, from the Docker menu, select Settings > General > Start Docker Desktop when you log in.

Alternatively, open a terminal and run:

$ systemctl --user enable docker-desktop

To stop Docker Desktop, click on the whale menu tray icon to open the Docker menu and select Quit Docker Desktop.

Alternatively, open a terminal and run:

$ systemctl --user stop docker-desktop

Upgrade Docker Desktop

Once a new version for Docker Desktop is released, the Docker UI shows a notification. You need to download the new package each time you want to upgrade Docker Desktop and run:

$ sudo apt-get install ./docker-desktop-<version>-<arch>.deb

Uninstall Docker Desktop

To remove Docker Desktop for Linux, run:

$ sudo apt remove docker-desktop

For a complete cleanup, remove configuration and data files at $HOME/.docker/desktop, the symlink at /usr/local/bin/com.docker.cli, and purge the remaining systemd service files.

$ rm -r $HOME/.docker/desktop
$ sudo rm /usr/local/bin/com.docker.cli
$ sudo apt purge docker-desktop

Remove the credsStore and currentContext properties from $HOME/.docker/config.json. Additionally, you must delete any edited configuration files manually.

Next steps

  • Take a look at the Get started training modules to learn how to build an image and run it as a containerized application.
  • Review the topics in Develop with Docker to learn how to build new applications using Docker.
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