Top 10 Docker Commands You Should Know

top 10 docker commands

In this tutorial, we are going to show you the ten most used Docker commands you should know.

Docker is an open-source platform service used for running applications in isolated environments called containers. The containers have their own structure, with encapsulated services that can not interfere with the work of the main server. In this tutorial, we are going to use the Ubuntu 22.04 OS, but you can choose any Linux distro you want.

First, we will install the docker and then show you the ten most used docker commands. Let’s get started!


  • A server with Ubuntu 22.04 as OS
  • User privileges: root or non-root user with sudo privileges

Update the System

Before we start with the installation of Docker, we will update the system packages to their latest versions available:

sudo apt-get update -y && sudo apt-get upgrade -y

Install Docker

First, we need to install some Docker dependencies:

sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https curl gnupg-agent ca-certificates software-properties-common -y

Next is to add the GPGK key:

curl -fsSL | sudo apt-key add -

Once the GPGK key is added, we need to add the repo because it is not included in the Ubuntu 22.04:

sudo add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] focal stable"

After adding the key and repo, you can install Docker with the following commands:

sudo apt-get install docker-ce docker-ce-cli -y

After successful installation, start and enable the docker service:

sudo systemctl enable docker && sudo systemctl start docker

To check the status of the service, execute the following command:

sudo systemctl status docker

You should receive the following output:

root@vps:~# systemctl status docker
● docker.service - Docker Application Container Engine
     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/docker.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
     Active: active (running) since Tue 2022-12-06 15:13:24 CST; 10min ago
TriggeredBy: ● docker.socket
   Main PID: 120228 (dockerd)
      Tasks: 9
     Memory: 21.1M
        CPU: 2.326s
     CGroup: /system.slice/docker.service
             └─120228 /usr/bin/dockerd -H fd:// --containerd=/run/containerd/containerd.sock

Now, when the Docker service is installed, we can start with the docker commands.

1. Check the Docker version

To check the installed Docker version, execute the command docker –version. You should receive output similar to this:

root@host:~# docker --version
Docker version 20.10.21, build baeda1f

2. Search package

To search for some software that can be installed with Docker, execute the following command:

docker search wordpress

You will receive a list of available WordPress packages:

root@host:~# docker search wordpress
NAME                                     DESCRIPTION                                     STARS     OFFICIAL   AUTOMATED
wordpress                                The WordPress rich content management system…   5012      [OK]
bitnami/wordpress                        Bitnami container image for WordPress           208                  [OK]
bitnami/wordpress-nginx                  Bitnami Docker Image for WordPress with NGINX   67                   [OK]

3. Docker pull

Docker pull is used for taking the application from the official Docker Hub. Let’s pull the WordPress package we searched for in the previous step.

docker pull wordpress

After a successful pull, you should receive the following output:

root@host:~# docker pull wordpress
Using default tag: latest
latest: Pulling from library/wordpress
a603fa5e3b41: Pull complete
c428f1a49423: Pull complete
156740b07ef8: Pull complete
fb5a4c8af82f: Pull complete
25f85b498fd5: Pull complete
9b233e420ac7: Pull complete
fe42347c4ecf: Pull complete
9a7bf1523229: Pull complete
a0b541d575c5: Pull complete
c0e75b0cc4dc: Pull complete
a97a86207955: Pull complete
f88820a52a78: Pull complete
81ebcb8aedf6: Pull complete
265e9160e272: Pull complete
adbaf7c3bb9d: Pull complete
1b8e3ff1537e: Pull complete
bc197583e391: Pull complete
f89eb7cb30b3: Pull complete
fa90bc2f4db7: Pull complete
1ca7d72233c9: Pull complete
c68df4c97ee8: Pull complete
Digest: sha256:fd08649a97d2cb6967fb0a5cd8a710e2b6075502eb18f6c3f841a4d986c0700b
Status: Downloaded newer image for wordpress:latest

4. Docker run

The Docker run command is used for creating a container from an image.

docker run hello-world

You should receive output similar to this:

root@host:~# docker run hello-world

Hello from Docker!
This message shows that your installation appears to be working correctly.

To generate this message, Docker took the following steps:
 1. The Docker client contacted the Docker daemon.
 2. The Docker daemon pulled the "hello-world" image from the Docker Hub.
 3. The Docker daemon created a new container from that image which runs the
    executable that produces the output you are currently reading.
 4. The Docker daemon streamed that output to the Docker client, which sent it
    to your terminal.

5. Docker ps

The docker ps command is used for listing the running containers. Let’s execute this command: docker ps

root@host:~# docker ps
CONTAINER ID   IMAGE            COMMAND                  CREATED         STATUS         PORTS                               NAMES
d2a01e103a5d   wordpress        "docker-entrypoint.s…"   6 minutes ago   Up 6 minutes>80/tcp, :::80->80/tcp   wordpress
3ac6a4cf7b0c   mariadb:latest   "docker-entrypoint.s…"   8 minutes ago   Up 8 minutes   3306/tcp                            wordpressdb

As you can see, there are two running containers on our system.

6. Docker start

Docker start is used for starting the stopped containers. Let’s first list the stopped containers:

docker ps -a

You will receive an output similar to this:

root@host:~# docker ps -a
CONTAINER ID   IMAGE            COMMAND                  CREATED          STATUS                          PORTS     NAMES
d2a01e103a5d   wordpress        "docker-entrypoint.s…"   25 minutes ago   Exited (0) About a minute ago             wordpress
3ac6a4cf7b0c   mariadb:latest   "docker-entrypoint.s…"   28 minutes ago   Exited (0) About a minute ago             wordpressdb

Remember that we start the containers using their IDs. To start both containers, execute the following commands:

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docker start 3ac6a4cf7b0c

docker start d2a01e103a5d

7. Docker stop

Now, opposite of the docker start is the docker stop command used for stopping the containers.

docker stop d2a01e103a5d 3ac6a4cf7b0c

8. Docker Restart

Docker restart is used for restarting the containers:

root@host:~# docker restart 3ac6a4cf7b0c d2a01e103a5d

9. Docker Remove

The docker rm command is used for removing the Docker containers. Before removing note that you need to stop the containers.

root@host:~# docker rm 3ac6a4cf7b0c d2a01e103a5d

Now, the containers are deleted permanently.

root@host:~# docker ps -a

10. Docker Help

If you want to know more about the docker, you can simply execute the docker help command. You should receive the following output:

root@host:~# docker help

Usage:  docker [OPTIONS] COMMAND

A self-sufficient runtime for containers

      --config string      Location of client config files (default "/root/.docker")
  -c, --context string     Name of the context to use to connect to the daemon (overrides DOCKER_HOST env var and default context set with "docker context use")
  -D, --debug              Enable debug mode
  -H, --host list          Daemon socket(s) to connect to
  -l, --log-level string   Set the logging level ("debug"|"info"|"warn"|"error"|"fatal") (default "info")
      --tls                Use TLS; implied by --tlsverify
      --tlscacert string   Trust certs signed only by this CA (default "/root/.docker/ca.pem")
      --tlscert string     Path to TLS certificate file (default "/root/.docker/cert.pem")
      --tlskey string      Path to TLS key file (default "/root/.docker/key.pem")
      --tlsverify          Use TLS and verify the remote
  -v, --version            Print version information and quit

Congratulations! You just learned something about Docker commands with real examples. If learning Docker is difficult, you can sign up for one of our NVMe VPS hosting plans, and we will install and configure Docker for you. You can contact us anytime you want. We are available 24/7.

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