Recently I was writing about Docker and how you can use it to containerize your application. Let me tell you that Docker is not the only tool that we can use for that matter. Let’s review some Docker alternatives.

As the world of data analytics grows more complex, it becomes increasingly important to choose the right tools and technologies to manage our applications efficiently. While Docker has been the go-to containerization solution for many developers (and actually I discover the concept of containers thanks to Dodkcer), a variety of powerful alternatives have emerged and we will cover that today.

For now, just consider that:

  • Containers allow applications to run consistently across different systems, simplifying development and deployment. Each of these technologies has its unique features and use cases, catering to different developer needs.
  • Docker, Podman, and LXD are containerization technologies that help developers create, deploy, and manage applications within isolated environments called containers

Docker vs Podman

Docker is the most popular containerization platform and is widely adopted due to its extensive ecosystem and ease of use. Docker containers are built from images, which are like blueprints containing application code, dependencies, and configurations. Docker uses a client-server architecture, with the Docker daemon managing containers on a host system.

Podman, on the other hand, is a newer containerization technology that aims to address some of Docker’s limitations.

Podman is daemonless, meaning it doesn’t require a central server to manage containers, resulting in a more lightweight and secure solution.

Why Podman and not Docker?

Podman is licensed under the Apache License 2.0, a permissive open-source license.

The Apache License is known for being business-friendly. It allows users to use, modify, distribute, and even sell software without much restriction.

Docker’s core, the Docker Engine, is also under the Apache License 2.0, offering similar openness for this component.

However, Docker, Inc. has proprietary components, especially in Docker Desktop, and some features are behind a subscription model for commercial users.

This mixed approach means that while the open-source part of Docker is as open as Podman, the overall product has more restrictions, particularly for business users.

How to use Podman?

If you have already get started with Docker and for some reason you need to migrate to Podman. , you can pretty much replicate what you know.

Get Podman Ready in Windows 👇
wsl --install

#wsl -l -v
Get Podman Ready in Linux/Macs 👇

It will work for both:

#brew install podman-desktop
#flatpak install flathub io.podman_desktop.PodmanDesktop

#nix-shell -p podman

Lets have a look to a sample container to make sure it all works:

#podman --version
podman run

Another Example: the build would be

podman build -t your_image_name .
#docker build -t your_image_name .

Do you want to start a particular container? No issues:

podman start portainer
#docker start portainer

Make your life easier with Portainer (UI to manage Containers):

podman run -d -p 8000:8000 -p 9000:9000 --name=portainer --restart=always -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock -v portainer_data:/data portainer/portainer-ce
#podman start portainer

Visit localhost:9000 and setup user and password.

This will be helpful, as there is no equivalent to Docker-Compose in Podman - But you can use them (.yml config files) as Stacks in Portainer.

Other Containers


LXD is another containerization technology that differs from Docker and Podman in its approach to containerization. Instead of application containers, LXD focuses on system containers, which are more like lightweight virtual machines.

These system containers provide a complete operating system environment, making them better suited for running multiple services or applications that require a full OS. LXD is particularly useful for scenarios where you need to run different Linux distributions or have strict isolation requirements between applications.


Choosing Containerization Technology

As a general rule, it’s important to consider factors like: security, performance, and compatibility.

Choosing the right containerization technology for your projects will depend on your specific needs and requirements:

  • Docker is an excellent choice for those seeking a mature and widely-supported platform
  • Podman offers improved security and a simpler architecture.
    • It offers better security by running containers as non-root users and eliminating the need for a daemon, reducing potential attack surfaces.
    • Plus it has a permisive Open Source License - Apache v2 ✅
  • LXD is the go-to option for users looking to run system containers or needing enhanced isolation.
    • It provides superior isolation between containers, which can be beneficial in multi-tenant environments or for running applications with conflicting dependencies.

Docker, Podman, Rancher, Minikube…What?

Dropdown a Comparative Table 👇
Feature Docker Podman Rancher Minikube
Container Management Provides a centralized Docker daemon (dockerd) to manage containers. Offers container management without a central daemon, suitable for rootless containers. A container orchestration platform for managing and deploying containers at scale. A tool to run a single-node Kubernetes cluster locally for development and testing.
Rootless Containers Requires special configuration for rootless containers. Supports rootless containers by default, improving security. Supports rootless containers via Podman integration. N/A (Primarily focused on Kubernetes clusters).
Kubernetes Integration Docker Desktop offers a built-in Kubernetes cluster for development. Can run Kubernetes containers but not a Kubernetes distribution. Rancher can deploy, manage, and scale Kubernetes clusters. Minikube provides a local Kubernetes cluster for development and testing.
Pods Support Lacks native support for pods (groups of containers sharing network and storage). Offers native support for pods similar to Kubernetes Pods. Supports Kubernetes Pods and workloads. N/A (Primarily focused on Kubernetes clusters).
Container Compose Docker Compose for defining and managing multi-container applications. Offers Podman Compose as an alternative to Docker Compose. Supports Docker Compose files and provides additional features for orchestration. Can use Docker Compose files for defining multi-container applications in a local Kubernetes cluster.
Container Registry Docker Hub is the default registry, but you can use others. Supports Docker-compatible registries, and you can specify custom registries. Integrates with various container registries, including Docker Hub. Can use any container registry compatible with Kubernetes.
User Interface Provides a GUI through Docker Desktop for Windows and macOS. Primarily a command-line tool but has some GUI integrations. Offers a web-based UI for managing container workloads and Kubernetes clusters. N/A (Primarily command-line focused).
License Docker CE (Community Edition) uses the Apache 2.0 license. Docker EE (Enterprise Edition) has a commercial license. Podman is open-source and uses the Apache 2.0 license. Rancher is open-source and has its own license (Rancher Community License). Minikube is open-source and uses the Apache 2.0 license.