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Containers / Operations

Get up to Speed with Containers Very Quickly with DockSTARTer

DockSTARTer is very much a tool for those new to Docker to use as a learning environment. Via an easy-to-navigate menu system, DockSTARTer walks you through the deployment of containerized applications.
Jun 24th, 2023 6:00am by
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I’m on a constant hunt for applications that help ease the complexity of Docker container deployments. I recently found an app that just might be of considerable use to those who are new to Docker and need to get a leg up on using the container tool.

One such app caught my attention. The app is called DockSTARTer and it aims to make getting up to speed with Docker quick and easy. DockSTARTer is a curses-based terminal application, which allows you to easily deploy containerized applications all the while learning about some of the advanced configurations with Docker.

DockSTARTer is very much a tool for those new to Docker to use as a learning environment. So, for those who are experts with the Docker command line, this tool probably isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you’re just getting started with Docker, you’ll be glad you have this tool on your side.

Basically, what DockSTARTer does is, via an easy-to-navigate menu system, walk you through the deployment of containerized applications, asking simple questions and allowing you to edit or customize the configurations (if needed). With DockSTARTer, you can easily set app/VPN/Global variables, without having to create an .env file or a complicated manifest. DockSTARTer makes this all very easy.

Let me show you how to install everything and then deploy an application with DockSTARTer.

Installing Docker and Docker Compose

If you already have Docker and Docker Compose installed, skip this step. I’m going to demonstrate the process on Ubuntu Linux 22.04. If you’re using a different distribution of Linux, you’ll need to modify the installation commands to suit your package manager.

We’ll first install the community edition of Docker. Add the required GPG key with the command:

Next, add the Docker repository:

We then must install a few necessary dependencies with:

Update apt with:

Install the latest version of the Docker CE runtime engine with the command:

Add your user to the docker group with the command:

The last step is to install Docker Compose with:

Log out and log back in for the changes to take effect.

Installing DockSTARTer

The developer of DockSTARTer has created an easy-to-use installation script. Run this command to install the software:

Once the installation is complete, you must reboot your machine with the command:

Log back into your desktop and open a terminal window.

Deploy Your First Container with DockSTARTer

Before we do this, let me say that DockSTARTer doesn’t include an exhaustive list of applications available for installation. There are quite a few but you might not find everything you need. Even so, this is still a great way to learn the ins and outs of Docker deployment.

From the terminal window, launch DockSTARTer with the command:

In the first window (Figure 1), make sure Full Setup is selected (using your cursor keys if necessary) and then hit Enter on your keyboard.

Figure 1: The main DockSTARTer window.

In the next window (Figure 2), scan through the list of applications and select the one you want to deploy by highlighting it and hitting the space bar to select.

Figure 2: The DockSTARTer app selection window.

Once you’ve made your selection tab down to select OK and hit Enter on your keyboard. You will then be greeted by the first configuration window, which will vary, depending on the application you’ve selected to install. For example, when deploying Portainer with DockSTARTer, I am first presented with the configuration options for PORTAINER_NETWORK_MODE, PORTAINER_PORT, and PORTAINER_RESTART (Figure 3).

Figure 3: If these variables are okay, select Yes and hit Enter on your keyboard.

You will then be presented with the WATCHTOWER options window (Figure 4). Scan through these options and, if they’re okay, select Yes and hit Enter.

Figure 4: Configuring the WATCHTOWER options for a Portainer deployment.

The next screen (Figure 5) is for networking. Once again, if those are good, highlight Yes and hit Enter on your keyboard.

Figure 5: The network settings for my Portainer deployment.

Finally, if the Global settings are good (Figure 6), highlight Yes and hit Enter on your keyboard.

Figure 6: The Global settings for Portainer.

You will finally be presented with a prompt asking if you want to run compose now. Highlight Yes and hit Enter on your keyboard.

When compose completes, you should see something like this in the output:

The container you selected has been deployed and is ready to access.

If you then want to view the Docker Compose file for the app you just deployed, change into the .docker directory with:

From there, change to the compose directory with:

You can then view the compose file with the command:

The best part about DockSTARTer is that it gives you a peek into how the Docker sausage is made. Without having to dive right into the deep end of containers, you can slowly make your way from the shallow end, learning how Docker manifests are crafted and what variables are necessary to make things work.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Docker.
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