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Boot2Docker is a lightweight Linux distribution made specifically to run [Docker] ( containers. It runs completely from RAM, is a small ~24MB download and boots in ~5s (YMMV).

Installation instructions for OS X and Windows available on the Docker documentation site.

The ISO can be downloaded here.


  • Kernel 3.16.1 with AUFS, Docker v1.2.0 - using libcontainer
  • Container persistence via disk automount on /var/lib/docker
  • SSH keys persistence via disk automount

Note: This version of Docker uses port 2375, the newly registered IANA port


All in one Installers for OS X and MS Windows

We have built installers for OS X and MS Windows which will install the boot2docker management tool, VirtualBox and any tools needed to run Boot2Docker.

Installation using the boot2docker management tool

If you have the prerequisites, or want to help develop Boot2Docker, you can also download the appropriate boot2docker management release and use it to download the boot2docker.iso.

How to use

The boot2docker management tool leverages VirtualBox's VBoxManage to initialise, start, stop and delete the VM right from the command line.


$ boot2docker init

Start VM

$ boot2docker up

Upgrade the Boot2docker VM image

$ boot2docker stop
$ boot2docker download
$ boot2docker up

If your Boot2Docker virtual machine was created prior to 0.11.1-pre1, it's best to delete - boot2docker delete and then boot2docker init to create a new VM.

The main changes are to add a /var/lib/boot2docker/userdata.tar file that is un-tarred into the /home/docker directory on boot. This file contains a .ssh/authorized_keys and .ssh/authorized_keys2 files containing a public sshkey.

More information

See Frequently asked questions for more details.

Boot script log

The bootup script output is logged to /boot.log, so you can see (and potentially debug) what happens. Note that this is not persistent between boots because we're logging from before the persistence partition is mounted (and it may not exist at all).

Container Port redirection

The latest version of boot2docker sets up two network adaptors, one using NAT to allow the VM to download images and files from the internet, and a host only network that Docker container's ports will be exposed on.

If you run a container with an exposed port:

   $ docker run --rm -i -t -p 80:80 apache

Then you should be able to access that apache server using the IP address reported to you using:

   $ boot2docker ip

Typically, it is, but it can change as its dynamically allocated by the VirtualBox DHCP server.

If you want to share container ports with other computers on your LAN, you will need to set up NAT adaptor based port forwarding

Folder sharing

Boot2Docker is essentially a remote Docker engine with a read only filesystem (other than Docker images, containers and volumes). The most scalable and portable way to share disk space between your local desktop and a Docker container is by creating a volume container and then sharing that to where it's needed.

One well tested approach is to use a file sharing container like svendowideit/samba


    # Make a volume container (only need to do this once)
    $ docker run -v /data --name my-data busybox true
	# Share it using Samba (Windows file sharing)
	$ docker run --rm -v /usr/local/bin/docker:/docker -v /var/run/docker.sock:/docker.sock svendowideit/samba my-data
	# then find out the IP address of your Boot2Docker host
	$ boot2docker ip

Connect to the shared folder using Finder (OS X):

 Connect to cifs://
 Once mounted, will appear as /Volumes/data

Or on Windows, use Explorer to Connect to:


You can then use your data container from any container you like:

	docker run -it --volumes-from my-data ubuntu 

You will find the "data" volume mounted as "/data" in that container. Note that "my-data" is the name of volume container, this is shared via the "network" by the "samba" container that refers to it by name. So, in this example, if you were on OS-X you now have /Volumes/data and /data in container being shared. You can change the paths as needed.


The boot2docker management tool allows you to customise many options from both the commandline, or by setting them in its configuration file.

see boot2docker config for more (including the format of the configuration file).

SSH into VM

$ boot2docker ssh

Boot2Docker auto logs in using the generated SSH key, but if you want to SSH into the machine manually (or you're not using a boot2docker managed VM), the credentials are:

user: docker
pass: tcuser

Persist data

When you run boot2docker init, the boot2docker tool auto-creates a disk that will be automounted and used to persist your docker data in /var/lib/docker and /var/lib/boot2docker. This virtual disk will be removed when you run boot2docker delete. It will also persist the SSH keys of the machine.

If you are not using the boot2docker VirtualBox manage tool, you can create an ext4 or btrfs formatted partition with the label boot2docker-data (mkfs.ext4 -L boot2docker-data /dev/sdX5) to your VM or host, and boot2docker will automount it on /mnt/sdX and then softlink /mnt/sdX/var/lib/docker to /var/lib/docker.

Install on any device

To 'install' the ISO onto an SD card, USB-Stick or even empty hard disk, you can use dd if=boot2docker.iso of=/dev/sdX. This will create the small boot partition, and install an MBR.

Build your own boot2docker.iso

Goto How to build for Documentation on how to build your own boot2docker ISOs.


Lightweight Linux for Docker




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