book image docker up and running

In the modern era of software engineering, terms are coined with a new wrapper. Such wrappers are required to make bread-and-butter out of it. Sometimes good marketed terms are adopted as best practices. I was having a lot of confusion about this Docker technology. Even I was unfamiliar with the concept of containers. My certain goal was to get a higher level overview first and then come to a conclusion. I started reading about the Docker from its official getting started guide. It helped me to host this blog using Docker, but I was expecting some more in-depth overview. With that reason, I decided to look for better resources. By reading some Quora posts and Goodreads reviews, I decided to read “Docker Up & Running by K. Matthias and S. Kane”. I am sharing my reading experience here.

TL;DR

The book provides a nice overview of Docker toolchain. It is not a reference book. Even though few options are deprecated, I will advise you to read this book and then refer the official documentation to get familiar with the latest development.

Detailed overview

I got a printed copy at nearly 450 INR (roughly rounding to 7 USD, where 1 USD = 65 INR) from Amazon. The prize is fairly acceptable with respect to the print quality. The book begins with a little history of containers (Docker is an implementation of the container). Initial chapters give a higher level overview of Docker tools combining Docker engine, Docker image, Docker registry, Docker compose and Docker container. Authors have pointed out situations where Docker is not suitable. I insist you do not skip that topic. I skipped the dedicated chapter on installing Docker. I will advise you to skip irrelevant topics because the chapters are not interlinked. You should read chapter 5 discussing the behavior of the container. That chapter cleared many of my confusions. Somehow I got lost in between, but re-reading helped. Such chapters are enough to get a general idea about Docker containers and images. Next chapters are focused more on best practices to setup the Docker engine. Frankly, I was not aware of possible ways to debug, log or monitor containers at runtime. This book points few expected production glitches that you should keep in mind. I didn’t like the depicted testing workflow by authors. I will look for some other references which highlight more strategies to construct your test workflow. If you are aware of any, please share them with me via e-mail. I know about achieving auto-scaling using various orchestration tools. This book provides step by step guidance on configuring and using them. Mentioned tools are Docker Swarm, Centurion and Amazon EC2 container service. Unfortunately, the book is missing Kubernets and Helios here. As a part of advanced topics, you will find a comparison of various filesystems with a shallow overview of how Docker engine interacts with them. The same chapter is discussing available execution drivers and introduces LXC as another container technology. This API option is deprecated by Docker version 1.8 which makes libcontainer the only dependency. I learned how Docker containers provide the virtualization layer using Namespaces. Docker limits the execution of container using CGroups (Control Groups). Namespaces and CGroups are GNU/Linux level dependencies used by Docker under the hood. If you are an API developer, then you should not skip Chapter 11. This chapter discusses two well-followed patterns Twelve-Factor App and The Reactive manifesto. These guidelines are helpful while designing the architecture of your services. The book concludes with further challenges of using Docker as a container tool.

One typo I found at page number 123, second last line.

expore some of the tools...

Here, expore is a typo and it should be

explore some of the tools...

I have submitted it to the official errata. At the time of writing this post, it has not confirmed by authors. Hope they will confirm it soon.

Who should read this book?

  • Developers who want to get an in-depth overview of the Docker technology.

  • If you set up deployment clusters using Docker, then this book will help you to get an overview of Docker engine internals. You will find security and performance guidelines.

  • This is not a reference book. If you are well familiar with Docker, then this book will not be useful. In that case, the Docker documentation is the best reference.

  • I assume Docker was not supporting Windows platform natively when the book was written. The book focuses on GNU/Linux platform. It highlights ways to run Docker on Windows using VMs and Boot2Docker for Non-Linux VM-based servers.

What to keep in mind?

  • Docker is changing rapidly. There will be situations where mentioned options are deprecated. In such situation, you have to browse the latest Docker documentation and try to follow them.

  • You will be able to understand the official documentation better after reading this book.

Conclusion

  • Your GNU/Linux skills are your Docker skills. Once you understand what the Docker is, then your decisions will become more mature.
Proofreaders: Dhavan Vaidya, Polprog

Printed Copy