7 Docker Alternatives to Consider in 2023 (2023)

Many organizations are adopting containers to develop and manage stable applications. Docker is one of the most feature-rich and widely used tools in this space, with millions of applications already using it. Docker is a Linux-based open-source containerization technology that is used to build, run, inspect, and manage container images for developing applications.

Although Docker is a robust standalone ecosystem of its own and provides an extensive tool kit for managing the containerization process, there are other alternatives to Docker that offer unique use cases and features. This article delves into alternatives to Docker, which includes a range of comprehensive platforms like Docker as well as individual tools that could serve as an alternative to a component of the Docker ecosystem.

List of Docker alternatives

  1. Podman
  2. Lxd
  3. Containerd
  4. Buildah
  5. Buildkit
  6. Kaniko
  7. Runc


7 Docker Alternatives to Consider in 2023 (1)

In the container technology landscape, Podman is a popular container engine. A container engine is an all-in-one software that manages user requests, loads and verifies container images from a registry server, monitors, allocates, isolates system resources, and runs containers using a bundled container runtime. It allows users to handle and use containers by providing a user interface that abstracts the complexities involved in dealing with system security rules and policies like Seccomp and SELinux.

Podman is a daemon-less, open-source, Linux-native container engine developed by RedHat, that is used to build, run and manage Linux OCI containers and container images. Although Podman provides a command-line interface similar to Docker's, it operates differently.

One significant difference between Docker and Podman is that the former runs a persistent, self-sufficient runtime that manages its objects or daemon called dockerd. On the other hand, Podman does not rely on a daemon to work. Instead, Podman starts containers as child processes. It also interacts directly with the registry and with the Linux Kernel using a runtime process. It is for this reason that Podman is called a daemon-less container technology.

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The absence of a daemon improves Podman's flexibility as a container engine because it removes the dependency on a single process that could act as a point of failure that propagates to child processes causing them to fail or be orphaned.

Podman is also significantly different from Docker in that it does not require root access. This feature provides an additional security buffer that restricts potentially dangerous processes that can manipulate crucial system settings and make the container and the contained application vulnerable.

Additionally, Podman can run pods - collections containing one or more containers managed as a single entity and utilize a shared pool of resources. As a result of this additional ability, Podman users can move their workloads to Kubernetes.


7 Docker Alternatives to Consider in 2023 (2)

Lxd is another open-source container engine that is designed specifically for LXC Linux Containers. LXC enables users to run applications in isolated containers or virtual environments similar to virtual machines without the technical burden of managing individual kernels. Lxd provides an interface used to connect to the LXC software library, while creating a daemon responsible for handling networking, data storage, and managing multiple LXC containers.

Although LXC can run as a standalone tool, it possesses a limited subset of features. Lxd provides those additional features and thus relies on LXC to work. However, they both operate in a small subsection of the container technology ecosphere and have a small number of users. They are also more suitable for use cases that require long-term persistent environments for running virtual applications as opposed to those that use short-lived containers.

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Unlike Docker that recommends a single process per container design pattern, the containers in LXC/Lxd can run multiple processes. Additionally, docker containers are more portable because Docker efficiently abstracts resources in comparison to Lxd. Lastly, Docker can run on Windows and OS X hosting environments, but Lxd only supports Linux.


7 Docker Alternatives to Consider in 2023 (3)

Containerd is a high-level container runtime that runs runc under the hood to provide an interface between the OS and container engines. Runc is a daemon with Windows and Linux support that abstracts OS-specific functionality and makes it easier to run and supervise containers and manage image transfer and storage.

This level of abstraction provided by Containerd eliminates the complexity involved in making several low-level system calls. This enables container portability since these system calls can differ for different operating systems.

Unlike Docker, Containerd however, does not handle the building of images or the creation of volumes. Interestingly, containerdis the default runtime for Docker, which is now an independent tool just like runc. This makes Containerd a handy orchestrator tool just like Kubernetes, and as a result, is one of the most popular Docker alternatives.


7 Docker Alternatives to Consider in 2023 (4)

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Buildah is an OCI image-building tool developed by The Red Hat Foundation for containerization systems. It is a tool that provides functionality that is similar to running docker build in Docker. It is a complementary tool often used together with Podman. In fact, Podman uses a subset of the Buildah functionality under the hood to implement its build process.

It can build images from a Dockerfile or Containerfile and produces images that operate the same way as those created with Docker as the images are OCI compliant.

Additionally, it offers fine-grained control over image layers that allows multiple changes commits into a single layer. It also provides the ability to build images from scratch, that is, images that contain nothing, which gives users the freedom to add only the packages needed to run the application. Lastly, in Buildah, users can only see images they built because it is user-specific, unlike Docker.


7 Docker Alternatives to Consider in 2023 (5)

Buildkit is a second-generation image-building Moby project also provided as an experimental feature in newer Docker versions. Like Docker, it runs using a daemon. However, one of the key differences between the standard Docker build and Buildkit is that while the former builds each layer one layer at a time, the latter provides parallel build processing. This added feature improves performance and results in faster builds.

It also allows for the skipping of unused stages, improves incremental builds, and permits rootless builds. Additionally, it uses a cache to reduce the need to rebuild every layer of an image.


7 Docker Alternatives to Consider in 2023 (6)

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Kaniko is a Google image-building tool that can build images from Dockerfiles. It is daemon-less like Buildah but focuses more on building images in Kubernetes. Kaniko is, however, not very convenient for local development instances as it is usually run as an image with a container orchestrator like Kubernetes. However, for continuous integration and delivery pipelines in a Kubernetes cluster, Kaniko can be a practical utility.


7 Docker Alternatives to Consider in 2023 (7)

Runc, formerly a module embedded into the Docker architecture, was released in 2015 as a standalone tool. It has since then become a widely used, standardized, interoperable container runtime DevOps teams can use as part of Docker or other custom container engines.

Runc belongs to the container runtime section of the containerization ecosystem. A container runtime is a lower-level component used in a container engine that handles the running of containers.

Although Docker offers a comprehensive toolkit for every aspect of what organizations require in a containerization process, certain DevOps functions may require various reasons to explore other alternatives. It is, however, essential to keep in mind the host OS such alternatives operate and their use cases when choosing any of such options.


Is Docker still relevant in 2023? ›

Hello devs, if you are looking to learn new tools and technologies in 2023 then you should consider learning Docker and Kubernetes, two of the most essential tools for creating and managing containers in this era of Microservices and Cloud Computing.

What is the best alternative for Docker? ›

List of Docker Alternatives
  • Cloud Foundry. Cloud Foundry is an open-source, industry-standard cloud application platform that supports the most popular programming languages and developer frameworks right out of the box. ...
  • Containerd. ...
  • CoreOS rkt. ...
  • Hyper-V Containers. ...
  • Kubernetes. ...
  • LXC Linux Containers. ...
  • OpenVZ. ...
  • RunC.
Feb 24, 2023

Are there any alternatives to Docker? ›

BuildKit - Image building engine for Docker

Like Docker, BuildKit uses a daemon to run. But, while Docker builds each image layer at a time, BuildKit leverages parallel build processing to improve performance in faster builds. Its enhanced caching also ensures that you do not have to continually rebuild each layer.

What is the alternative to Docker on Synology? ›

This guest blog post from Technorabilia takes a look at Portainer as an alternative to Synology Docker GUI. Using Portainer offers access to all Docker features – not just the limited feature set provided by the Synology Docker GUI.

What is the difference between Docker and Kubernetes 2023? ›

Kubernetes groups containers into logical units called “pods” and provides a robust set of features for managing these pods across clusters of nodes. Docker, on the other hand, is an open-source platform that automates the deployment of applications inside lightweight, portable containers.

Is Docker becoming obsolete? ›

You do not need to panic.

TL;DR Docker as an underlying runtime is being deprecated in favor of runtimes that use the Container Runtime Interface (CRI) created for Kubernetes. Docker-produced images will continue to work in your cluster with all runtimes, as they always have.

Can Kubernetes replace Docker? ›

Docker is one of the platforms used for containerization but it is not the only platform out there. This means, as long as you have a container runtime, Kubernetes will do its job. You can choose that container runtime to be Docker, but it's not a requirement.

Can I use Kubernetes instead of Docker? ›

Kubernetes (sometimes referred to as K8s) is a popular open source platform that orchestrates container runtime systems across a cluster of networked resources. Kubernetes can be used with or without Docker.

Do we really need Docker? ›

Your software grows and consists of many bits and pieces

Without Docker, all the changes in the project setup have to be communicated to other developers and documented. Otherwise, their version of the code will stop working, and they won't know why.

Is Docker on the decline? ›

Docker: It's not dead yet, but there's a tendency to walk away, security report finds. Sysdig just handed in its Container Security and Usage Report for 2021, and the latest edition shows that even though security measures tend to be better integrated than in previous years, there is still a lot to be done.

Why Docker quit? ›

The main process inside the container has ended successfully: This is the most common reason for a Docker container to stop! When the process running inside your container ends, the container will exit.

What is the equivalent of Docker in Microsoft? ›

Microsoft Azure is the aptest alternative to Docker. Compared to Docker, it offers users more robust security options, runtime protection, vulnerability scanning for containers and pairing with Twist lock. The platform makes it simpler for people to operate container management.

What is the cheapest NAS that supports Docker? ›

DS216+ is probably the cheapest unit with Docker capabilities.

What is cheaper than Synology? ›

FreeNAS is cheaper than Synology NAS in terms of hardware.

Will container prices drop in 2023? ›

The prices of 20-foot dry cargo containers declined in every major region in the first quarter of 2023, the forecaster said.

What is the freight outlook for 2023? ›

Our 2023 rate forecast remains mostly unchanged, with some increased downside risk due to economic uncertainty. However, spot rates have fallen even further below current operating costs for carriers, leaving little room for further decline.

Why we need Kubernetes instead of Docker? ›

Kubernetes is open-source orchestration software that provides an API to control how and where those containers will run. It allows you to run your Docker containers and workloads and helps you to tackle some of the operating complexities when moving to scale multiple containers, deployed across multiple servers.

Is Podman better than Docker? ›

Podman takes an edge over Docker when it comes to running commands. The Podman run command is identical to that of Docker. The difference is that Podman comes integrated with systemd out of the box. Systemd can efficiently run within a container by default.

Should I run Docker or Kubernetes? ›

Although Docker Swarm is an alternative in this domain, Kubernetes is the best choice when it comes to orchestrating large distributed applications with hundreds of connected microservices including databases, secrets and external dependencies.

What is next after Docker? ›

Serverless computing, NoOps, unikernels and smart monitoring will help organizations continue to achieve new innovations beyond those that Docker containers can provide.

What are the main drawbacks of Docker? ›

Disadvantage of Dockers
  • Docker is not good for application that requires rich GUI.
  • It is difficult to manage large amount of containers.
  • Docker does not provide cross-platform compatibility means if an application is designed to run in a Docker container on windows, then it cannot run on Linux Docker container.
Apr 23, 2022

Why is Docker failing to start? ›

Docker Desktop requires a minimum of 2 GB of RAM and 20 GB of disk space to run. If your system does not meet these requirements, you may encounter a “Docker failed to start” error. Try closing any unnecessary applications and freeing up some disk space.

What will replace Kubernetes? ›

Kubernetes Alternatives: Container as a Service (CaaS)
  • AWS Fargate. ...
  • Azure Container Instances. ...
  • Google Cloud Run. ...
  • Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) ...
  • Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) ...
  • Openshift Container Platform. ...
  • Rancher. ...
  • Docker Swarm.

Are people still using Kubernetes? ›

Kubernetes continues to be the most popular container management system. Kubernetes is more popular than ever. Today, nearly half of container organizations run Kubernetes to deploy and manage containers in a growing ecosystem.

Is Kubernetes removing Docker support? ›

Public Cloud solutions like AKS from Azure & EKS/ECS from AWS will need to migrate to a supported container runtime before Kubernetes removes support for Docker. Systems using Docker sockets in their workflow will break so it is essential to migrate to other options like kaniko, buildah or img.

Who is Docker owned by? ›

Docker Inc. was founded by Kamel Founadi, Solomon Hykes, and Sebastien Pahl during the Y Combinator Summer 2010 startup incubator group and launched in 2011. The startup was also one of the 12 startups in Founder's Den first cohort.

Who owns Kubernetes? ›

Google Cloud is the birthplace of Kubernetes—originally developed at Google and released as open source in 2014. Kubernetes builds on 15 years of running Google's containerized workloads and the valuable contributions from the open source community.

What is Kubernetes equivalent of Docker run? ›

Docker lets you execute a command in a running container using docker exec . The Kubernetes equivalent is also called exec . Use the Kubernetes pod name instead of the Docker container name.

Does Docker have a future? ›

Docker has been tipped as the future of virtualisation. Its popularity is definitely growing, especially with companies like Netflix, Spotify, PayPal and Uber using the containerisation system. Hyve provides hosting for Docker containers on our Private Docker platform.

When should you not use Docker? ›

Docker is great for developing web applications, but if your end-product is a desktop application, then we would suggest you not to use Docker. As it doesn't provide the environment for running the software with a graphical interface, you would need to perform additional workarounds.

Is Docker necessary for DevOps? ›

Docker is a tool that benefits both developers and administrators. This makes it a part of many DevOps (developers + operations) toolchains. Developers can write code without worrying about the system that will be ultimately running the application.

Is Docker the world's leading? ›

Docker is the world's leading containerisation platform designed to make it easier to create, deploy and run various applications by using containers. Docker containers wrap up a piece of software into a complete file system that contains everything the software needs to run.

Will Docker become paid? ›

Docker Desktop License Changes:

The docker desktop is free for personal use and small business. Enterprises working on a large scale require a paid subscription with three different plans (pro, team, business). It starts from $5 and goes to $21 per month. The changes are granted till January 31, 2022.

How does Docker make money? ›

Docker primarily makes money charging companies a per-seat subscription fee for all the developers using Docker Desktop to create, deploy, and manage containers.

What problem is docker trying to solve? ›

Docker is a platform that allows developers to containerize and easily ship software. It helps eliminate the overhead of configuring environments to run software by, essentially, shipping the environment along with your code.

Why docker over vm? ›

This means Docker containers are much smaller and require far fewer resources than a VM. Docker is fast. Very fast. While a VM can take an at least a few minutes to boot and be dev-ready, it takes anywhere from a few milliseconds to (at most) a few seconds to start a Docker container from a container image.

What happens after docker run? ›

The docker run command creates running containers from images and can run commands inside them. When using the docker run command, a container can run a default action (if it has one), a user specified action, or a shell to be used interactively.

What is Docker equivalent in AWS? ›

Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) is the AWS service you use to run Docker applications on a scalable cluster.

Is Azure using Docker? ›

With Docker deployment on Azure, you're able to run modern and traditional Linux or Windows apps with enterprise-grade security, support, and scale.

Is Docker similar to AWS? ›

Docker is a containerization platform, while AWS AMI is an Amazon-specific machine image format. Docker packages software in isolated containers, while AWS AMI deploys pre-configured software on EC2 instances. Docker containers are faster and more lightweight than AWS AMI instances due to sharing the host OS.

Is Docker less efficient than VMS? ›

Efficiency. Because Docker containers share many of their resources with the host system, they require fewer things to be installed in order to run. Compared to a virtual machine, a container typically takes up less space and consumes less RAM and CPU time.

How much does Docker cost per node? ›

Docker Pricing

Private repositories, build & ship: $7 per month for 5 repos. Managed nodes run: $15 per month, per node.

How much free space does Docker need? ›

Ensure that you have a minimum of 16 GB of RAM. Ensure that you have 100 GB of free disk space on the computer on which you install Docker.

Why Synology is better than QNAP? ›

Additionally, QNAP comes bundled with software that provides immediate access to a larger number of software options, including updated versions of core binaries. Synology, on the other hand, offers greater flexibility than QNAP and boasts better customer support, which is crucial for commercial use.

Should you shut down Synology NAS? ›

While turning your Synology NAS off every night will save some electricity, you will not be able to access any of your files when it is off. Plus Synology NASes come with a number of power-saving features that will reduce power consumption – especially when the NAS is not in use.

What can I use instead of Docker on Synology? ›

This guest blog post from Technorabilia takes a look at Portainer as an alternative to Synology Docker GUI. Using Portainer offers access to all Docker features – not just the limited feature set provided by the Synology Docker GUI.

Is Docker being phased out? ›

A while ago, Kubernetes announced that it was deprecating Docker. Actually, it was deprecating something called dockershim, and Docker alongside it. Roughly one year after the announcement, Docker was completely removed from Kubernetes. Now, Kubernetes is a container orchestrator.

Is Docker still relevant? ›

As a runtime for executing containers, Docker is not dead. And as a conceptual approach to deploying applications, Docker — the platform that made containers massively popular, even though it did not invent the technology or idea — remains as alive as ever.

Is Docker used anymore? ›

Docker Desktop remains free for small businesses (fewer than 250 employees AND less than $10 million in annual revenue), personal use, education, and non-commercial open source projects. There is a grace period until January 31, 2022, for those that require a paid subscription to use Docker Desktop.

Should I use Kubernetes or Docker? ›

Although Docker Swarm is an alternative in this domain, Kubernetes is the best choice when it comes to orchestrating large distributed applications with hundreds of connected microservices including databases, secrets and external dependencies.

Is Docker dead for Kubernetes? ›

The news that “Kubernetes 1.20 deprecated Docker” hit the IT industry in early December 2020. So far, this has resulted in Kubernetes delivering a deprecation notice.

Do big companies use Docker? ›

8963 companies reportedly use Docker in their tech stacks, including Pinterest, Shopify, and Spotify.

Why is Kubernetes better than Docker? ›

Kubernetes and Docker—better together

While the promise of containers is to code once and run anywhere, Kubernetes provides the potential to orchestrate and manage all your container resources from a single control plane.

Why does everyone use Docker? ›

Because Docker containers encapsulate everything an application needs to run (and only those things), they allow applications to be shuttled easily between environments.


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