An Overview of Docker Desktop Alternatives

This page summarizes the projects mentioned and recommended in the original post on

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  • microk8s

    MicroK8s is a small, fast, single-package Kubernetes for developers, IoT and edge.

  • tilt-extensions

    Extensions for Tilt

    The article doesn't mention k3d ( which is a variant of k3s that runs in docker (rather than a VM) - very nice for k8s dev/test on developer workstations.

    It integrates very nicely with also (another very useful tool for k8s related dev/test).

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  • k3d

    Little helper to run Rancher Lab's k3s in Docker

    The article doesn't mention k3d ( which is a variant of k3s that runs in docker (rather than a VM) - very nice for k8s dev/test on developer workstations.

    It integrates very nicely with also (another very useful tool for k8s related dev/test).

  • mobymac

    Automagically install Docker in a VirtualBox VM with super-fast NFS mounts.

    I wrote an installer that sets up a VirtualBox VM, installs docker in it and sets everything up with a single command. It has a few drawbacks but might be good enough for a lot of use cases:

  • skaffold

    Easy and Repeatable Kubernetes Development

    Author here. Tilt is great.

    After minikube I wrote skaffold, which is a closer alternative to docker compose for Kubernetes with file watching and automated rebuilds and syncs.

  • kind

    Kubernetes IN Docker - local clusters for testing Kubernetes

    There's also Kind (Kubernetes in Docker) which accomplishes the same thing using upstream Kubernetes.

  • k3s

    Lightweight Kubernetes

    Rancher Desktop uses k3s[1] which is a distro of Kubernetes designed for light weight environments. I run is on a fairly new MBP and a 7 year old MBP without an issue. I also run it on a 9 year old server with low resource usage.

    While Kubernetes is present we want those components to use the fewest resources they need to.

    On Mac, all of this runs in a VM and you can control the resources given to the VM.


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  • lima

    Linux virtual machines, typically on macOS, for running containerd

  • dinghy

    faster, friendlier Docker on OS X

    I’ve see no mention of dinghy (, which is what I used to roll before Docker for Mac really got up and running. I pulled it up yesterday and everything still works.

    For anyone who is interested in a Docker Desktop alternative but without the k8 overhead, there’s a head start here just waiting to be picked up and revitalized.

  • Moby

    Moby Project - a collaborative project for the container ecosystem to assemble container-based systems

    Then there were the Dockerhub changes. Those are understandable, it must be a heavy money sink to maintain that service. Want to keep using that registry? Pay them. This is a fine arrangement (but note that dockerhub has special status, as you can use it without specifying the registry, and it can be used a a mirror). Still ok though.

    More recently they changed Docker Desktop to not allow skipping updates if you are not paying them. That was the strangest "feature" ever. Don't want to support? Say that's the last supported "free" version and stop providing updates after a certain date. But this "you can only choose NOT to update if you are pro" was weird.

    And then there's this.

    They have been trying and failing to extract a working business model out of their technology. So instead of trying to offer something that would entice people to pay, they have started to cripple their product for the ones who don't pay, just to get back to the same feature level they had before.

    Can they do that? Of course. What else will they decide to do in the future though?

    () Maybe this would be a Docker Pro/Team/Enterprise/whatever feature? Ok cool. This would make my life easier to try to pitch buying it. Mirrors would improve stability. Maybe some fancy local caching for K8s clusters so they would avoid pulls if another machine has pulled an image already? Give us something that will save time or improve stability and I can pitch to management. Right now? I see no reason to pitch pro/team/business as most of their stuff we don't care about. And maybe don't conflate Docker, the software, with DockerHub?

NOTE: The number of mentions on this list indicates mentions on common posts plus user suggested alternatives. Hence, a higher number means a more popular project.

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