Docker 100 - Images

In this article we will cover the basics of Docker images, commands and usage.

Docker Guide (6 Part Series)

  1. Docker Containers
  2. Docker Images
  3. Docker Layers
  4. Docker with Java Spring and Maven
  5. Understand Dockerfile Volume
  6. Docker Builder Containers


The basic concepts of Docker are Images and Containers:

There are other concepts to know about :

What is a Docker Image?

Docker images are the “source code” for our containers; we use them to build containers. They can have software pre-installed which speeds up deployment. They are portable, and we can use existing images or build our own. In the previous tutorial, we played with nginx image, we pulled the image from the registry and asked the Docker to run a container based on that image.

[node1] (local) root@ ~
$ docker pull nginx
Using default tag: latest
latest: Pulling from library/nginx
bf5945930556: Pull complete 
cb9a6de72e5a: Pull complete 
95faea0bxb91: Pull complete 
b49ea07d9583: Pull complete 
a5abe5044749: Pull complete 
Digest: sha256:3f7ee5edbc0e..
Status: Downloaded newer image for nginx:latest

To see the list of images that are available locally, use the docker images command.

[node1] (local) root@ ~
$ docker images
nginx        latest  4bb46517cac3  2 weeks ago  108MB

The above gives a list of images that I’ve pulled from the registry. The TAG column refers to a particular snapshot of the image and the IMAGE ID column is the corresponding unique identifier for that image.

In other words, if you are a developer and you use git everyday, consider an image as a git repository where you can commit changes and have multiple versions. By default, Docker will pull the last image and that’s why we see latest under TAG. Specifying the name of the image to pull docker pull nginx is equal to docker pull nginx:latest. As we can see, we specify the version after “:”.

For example, you can pull a specific version of nginx.

[node1] (local) root@ ~
$ docker pull nginx:1.12.0
$ docker images
nginx        1.12.0  313ec0a602bc  3 weeks ago  107MB

To get a new Docker image you can either get it from by exploring the Docker Hub registery, or directly from the command line using docker search.

Docker Container vs. Docker Image?

As in the programming aspect, Image is source code. When source code is compiled and build, it is called an application. Similar to that “when an instance is created for the image”, it is called a “container”.

Dockerfile → (Build) → Image → (Run) → Container.

Image Types

We have many types of images. It is a classification and it is not important:

Docker Image Commands

Docker provide a set of commands to work with images:

Displaying Docker Images

To list the available images on the system:

[node1] (local) root@ ~
$ docker images
nginx        1.12.0  313ec0a602bc  3 weeks ago  107MB

-q is used to return only the Image ID’s of the images:

[node1] (local) root@ ~
$ docker images -q 

Pulling Images

Pulls an image or a repository from a registry:

$ docker pull ImageID

Removing Docker Images

Like the containers, we have a command to remove via an image:

$ docker rmi ImageID [ImageID_2]

Removing the Unused Images

To remove the unused images:

$ docker image prune

Removing All the Images

To remove all images there is a simple command to do that:

$ docker rmi $(docker images -q)

Here we used two command: the command inside the $() returns the Image ID’s using the -q flag and the result will be passed then to docker rmi to remove all those images.

Building Images

To build an image from a Dockerfile:

$ docker build
$ docker build .
$ docker build Dockerfile
$ docker build CustomNameOfDockerfile
$ docker build PathToDockerfile

Loading Inage from a File

Loads an image from a tar archive or streams for receiving or reading input (STDIN):

$ docker image load

Saving an Image

This command save one or more images to a tar archive (streamed to STDOUT by default):

$ docker image save

Tag an Image

Creates a tag TARGET_IMAGE that refers to SOURCE_IMAGE:

$ docker image tag

Pushing an Image

This command pushes an image or a repository to a registry:

$ docker image push

We will be using these commands in the next sections with more options and details.

Creating and Running First Image


In this tutorial, we have seen Docker images, and we build and run an Image.