Docker Desktop on Mac: A Guide to the Changes and Available Alternatives

As a software engineer, you likely know the importance of Docker in building, shipping, and running distributed applications. But, what do you do if you’re a Mac user and want to use Docker for commercial purposes? With recent changes to the free version of Docker Desktop for Mac, this question has become more pressing for many. But fear not, there are still several alternatives available for running Docker containers on your Mac.

What happened?

So, why did the free version of Docker Desktop for Mac stop being free for commercial use? The reason is simple - the new pricing model aims to provide additional features and support for business users, including improved security, better performance, and more. While this is great news for businesses, it can be a disappointment for Mac users who relied on the free version for their work.

It’s important to understand that Docker is not the only option available for running containers on a Mac. You can also consider running your containers in the cloud, or explore other alternatives. The key is to find a solution that works best for your needs.

Docker Desktop Alternatives

One of the most straightforward solutions is to install a virtual machine with a Linux operating system, and then install the Docker engine on it. With this setup, you can configure your local Docker client to connect to the remote daemon running on the virtual machine. While this solution may be ideal for those with experience in virtual machines and Linux, it can be a challenge for those new to these technologies.

Another option is Colima, a platform that provides a native Docker experience on Mac, making it easier for Mac users to use Docker for commercial purposes. With Colima, you don’t have to worry about setting up a virtual machine or the associated maintenance. Instead, Colima does it. Under the hood it uses Lima (Linux virtual machines with automatic file sharing and port forwarding), that can be even faster.

Installing and Starting Colima on MacOS

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to install and start up Colima on your MacOS:

  1. Once you have Homebrew installed, you can install the Colima CLI by running the following command in your terminal:
$ brew install colima
  1. Start Colima by running the following command in your terminal:
$ colima start

That’s it! You should now have Colima running on your MacOS, and you can start using Docker containers just as you would on a Linux system.

$ docker info

In addition, you can customize the settings for your VM, like number of CPU, memory size, etc; see official examples for that.

Note: If you encounter any issues during the installation process, you can check the Colima documentation for further guidance, or reach out to the Colima support team for assistance.

In conclusion

If you’re a Mac user looking to use Docker for commercial purposes, you have several options available to you. Whether you choose to install a virtual machine with Linux and Docker, use Colima for a native Docker experience, or explore other alternatives, the most important thing is to find a solution that works for you. So, take some time to research and weigh your options, and choose the solution that best fits your needs.