Install Docker Toolbox on Windows

Legacy desktop solution. Docker Toolbox is for older Mac and Windows systems that do not meet the requirements of Docker for Mac and Docker for Windows. We recommend updating to the newer applications, if possible.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Docker Toolbox provides a way to use Docker on older Windows systems that do not meet minimal system requirements for the Docker for Windows app.

If you have not done so already, download the installer here:

Get Docker Toolbox for Windows

What you get and how it works

Docker Toolbox includes the following Docker tools:

  • Docker CLI client for running Docker Engine to create images and containers
  • Docker Machine so you can run Docker Engine commands from Windows terminals
  • Docker Compose for running the docker-compose command
  • Kitematic, the Docker GUI
  • the Docker QuickStart shell preconfigured for a Docker command-line environment
  • Oracle VM VirtualBox

Because the Docker Engine daemon uses Linux-specific kernel features, you can’t run Docker Engine natively on Windows. Instead, you must use the Docker Machine command, docker-machine, to create and attach to a small Linux VM on your machine. This VM hosts Docker Engine for you on your Windows system.

Tip: One of the advantages of the newer Docker for Windows solution is that it uses native virtualization and does not require VirtualBox to run Docker.

Step 1: Check your version

To run Docker, your machine must have a 64-bit operating system running Windows 7 or higher. Additionally, you must make sure that virtualization is enabled on your machine. To verify your machine meets these requirements, do the following:

  1. Right click the windows message and choose System.

    If you aren’t using a supported version, you could consider upgrading your operating system.

    If you have a newer system, specifically 64bit Windows 10 Pro, with Enterprise and Education (1511 November update, Build 10586 or later), consider using Docker for Windows instead. It runs natively on the Windows, so there is no need for a pre-configured Docker QuickStart shell. It also uses Hyper-V for virtualization, so the instructions below for checking virtualization will be out of date for newer Windows systems. Full install prerequisites are provided in the Docker for Windows topic in What to know before you install.

  2. Make sure your Windows system supports Hardware Virtualization Technology and that virtualization is enabled.


    For Windows 8 or 8.1

    Choose Start > Task Manager and navigate to the Performance tab. Under CPU you should see the following:

    Release page

    If virtualization is not enabled on your system, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for enabling it.


    For Windows 7

    Run a tool like the Microsoft® Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool or Speccy, and follow the on-screen instructions.

  3. Verify your Windows OS is 64-bit (x64)

    How you do this verification depends on your Windows version.
    For details, see the Windows article How to determine whether a computer is running a 32-bit version or 64-bit version of the Windows operating system.

Step 2: Install Docker Toolbox

In this section, you install the Docker Toolbox software and several “helper” applications. The installation adds the following software to your machine:

  • Docker Client for Windows
  • Docker Toolbox management tool and ISO
  • Oracle VM VirtualBox
  • Git MSYS-git UNIX tools

If you have a previous version of VirtualBox installed, do not reinstall it with the Docker Toolbox installer. When prompted, uncheck it.

If you have Virtual Box running, you must shut it down before running the installer.

  1. Go to the Docker Toolbox page.

  2. Click the installer link to download.

  3. Install Docker Toolbox by double-clicking the installer.

    The installer launches the “Setup - Docker Toolbox” dialog.

    If Windows security dialog prompts you to allow the program to make a change, choose Yes. The system displays the Setup - Docker Toolbox for Windows wizard.

    Release page

  4. Press Next to accept all the defaults and then Install.

    Accept all the installer defaults. The installer takes a few minutes to install all the components:

  5. When notified by Windows Security the installer will make changes, make sure you allow the installer to make the necessary changes.

    When it completes, the installer reports it was successful:

    Success

  6. Uncheck “View Shortcuts in File Explorer” and press Finish.

Step 3: Verify your installation

The installer adds Docker Toolbox, VirtualBox, and Kitematic to your Applications folder. In this step, you start Docker Toolbox and run a simple Docker command.

  1. On your Desktop, find the Docker QuickStart Terminal icon.

    Desktop

  2. Click the Docker QuickStart icon to launch a pre-configured Docker Toolbox terminal.

    If the system displays a User Account Control prompt to allow VirtualBox to make changes to your computer. Choose Yes.

    The terminal does several things to set up Docker Toolbox for you. When it is done, the terminal displays the $ prompt.

    Desktop

    The terminal runs a special bash environment instead of the standard Windows command prompt. The bash environment is required by Docker.

  3. Make the terminal active by clicking your mouse next to the $ prompt.

    If you aren’t familiar with a terminal window, here are some quick tips.

    /Terminal shell

    The prompt is traditionally a $ dollar sign. You type commands into the command line which is the area after the prompt. Your cursor is indicated by a highlighted area or a | that appears in the command line. After typing a command, always press RETURN.

  4. Type the docker run hello-world command and press RETURN.

    The command does some work for you, if everything runs well, the command’s output looks like this:

     $ docker run hello-world
     Unable to find image 'hello-world:latest' locally
     Pulling repository hello-world
     91c95931e552: Download complete
     a8219747be10: Download complete
     Status: Downloaded newer image for hello-world:latest
     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 Engine CLI client contacted the Docker Engine daemon.
      2. The Docker Engine daemon pulled the "hello-world" image from the Docker Hub.
         (Assuming it was not already locally available.)
      3. The Docker Engine daemon created a new container from that image which runs the
         executable that produces the output you are currently reading.
      4. The Docker Engine daemon streamed that output to the Docker Engine CLI client, which sent it
         to your terminal.
    
     To try something more ambitious, you can run an Ubuntu container with:
      $ docker run -it ubuntu bash
    
     For more examples and ideas, visit:
      https://docs.docker.com/userguide/
    

Looking for troubleshooting help?

Typically, the above steps work out-of-the-box, but some scenarios can cause problems. If your docker run hello-world didn’t work and resulted in errors, check out Troubleshooting for quick fixes to common problems.

A Windows specific problem you might encounter has to do with the NDIS6 host network filter driver, which is known to cause issues on some Windows versions. For Windows Vista systems and newer, VirtualBox installs NDIS6 driver by default. Issues can range from system slowdowns to networking problems for the virtual machine (VM). If you notice problems, re-run the Docker Toolbox installer, and select the option to install VirtualBox with the NDIS5 driver.

Optional: Add shared directories

By default, Toolbox only has access to the C:\Users directory and mounts it into the VMs at /c/Users.

Note: Within the VM path, c is lowercase and the Users is capitalized.

If your project lives elsewhere or needs access to other directories on the host filesystem, you can add them, using the VirtualBox UI.

  1. Open the VirtualBox UI.

  2. Click the Settings gear, then go to Shared Folders.

  3. Select any existing listing under Machine Folders, then click the + icon.

    • Choose the Folder Path on the host, enter the Folder Name for within the VM (or take the default, which is the same name as on the host), and configure any additional options you need.

    • Choose Auto-mount if you want the folder to automatically be mounted into the VM, and choose Make Permanent for it to be considered a permanently shared folder.

  4. Click OK to add the new folder to the Shared Folders list.

  5. Click OK again to save your changes and exit the Settings dialog.

How to uninstall Toolbox

Removing Toolbox involves removing all the Docker components it includes.

A full uninstall also includes removing the local and remote machines you created with Docker Machine. In some cases, you might want to keep machines created with Docker Machine.

For example, if you plan to re-install Docker Machine as a part of Docker for Windows you can continue to manage those machines through Docker. Or, if you have remote machines on a cloud provider and you plan to manage them using the provider, you wouldn’t want to remove them. So the step to remove machines is described here as optional.

To uninstall Toolbox on Windows, do the following:

  1. List your machines.

    $ docker-machine ls
    NAME                ACTIVE   DRIVER       STATE     URL                        SWARM
    dev                 *        virtualbox   Running   tcp://192.168.99.100:2376
    my-docker-machine            virtualbox   Stopped
    default                      virtualbox   Stopped
    
  2. Optionally, remove each machine. For example:

    $ docker-machine rm my-docker-machine
    Successfully removed my-docker-machine
    

    This step is optional because if you plan to re-install Docker Machine as a part of Docker for Windows, you can import and continue to manage those machines through Docker.

  3. Uninstall Docker Toolbox using Window’s standard process for uninstalling programs through the control panel (programs and features).

    Note: This process does not remove the docker-install.exe file. You must delete that file yourself.

  4. Optionally, remove the C:\Users\<your-user>\.docker directory.

    If you want to remove Docker entirely, you can verify that the uninstall removed the .docker directory under your user path. If it is still there, remove it manually. This directory stores some Docker program configuration and/or state (e.g., information about created machines such as certificates). Removing this directory is typically not necessary.

  5. Uninstall Oracle VirtualBox, which is installed as a part of the Toolbox install.

Next steps

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