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Alternatives to Docker Desktop

As announced by Docker. starting on February 1st, 2022, Docker Desktop for Windows will require a paid license under these conditions:

  • A company with at least 250 employees (in any role, not only developers) or $10M in annual revenue
  • It does not matter if Docker Desktop is used is used only for internal solutions in the company
  • Plans start on $5
  • Will not affect Docker tools for Linux
  • For teachers and students, the personal license will be free of charge

If you are using Docker Desktop on your company and you fall under the paid condition. Here are some alternatives tools that you can use:

1. Rancher Desktop

Rancher Desktop is an open-source application for Mac, Windows and Linux which allows to run Kubernetes and container management on your desktop.

While there are some similarities with Docker Desktop due to using a transparent VM. Rancher does not include the Docker Engine. Instead the images are built using kim (Kubernetes Image Manager) and uses a BuildKit daemon bound to the containerd socket on a Kubernetes node. This means that images are built directly within the Kubernetes cluster using the same underlying technology (BuildKit) as Docker.

2. Podman + Buildah

Podman and Buildah are alternatives developed by RedHat. The first is a prominent alternative for replacing Docker on building, running and storing images container images. The greatest Podman`s advantage is the compatibility with OCI container image, which means that it can runs container images produced by Docker.

Buildah is the alternative for building images and can be used together with Podman. One of its biggest advantage is the production of images fully compliant with OCI specification.

3. Docker cli + Minikube

When we use Docker cli, even though we are not using the Docker Desktop UI, behind the scenes Docker Desktop provides the functionalites to Docker CLI.
As an alternative it is possible to use minikube VM’s which includes a Docker daemon inside Linux for free. So, you can point your terminal’s Docker CLI to the Docker inside minikube using the command

minikube docker-env

This will only work with the docker container not runtime, not with containerd.

You also can use minikube image build instead of minkube docker-env and docker build

4. Kaniko

Kaniko is an alternative to Docker developed by Google and is used to develop container images inside of a container or a Kubernetes cluster. Kaniko does not require a daemon and can be used to build images from Dockerfiles without Docker.

Unlike Docker, Kaniko is focused on Kubernets workflows and meant to run as an image, making it difficult to run for local development.

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