What are the Best Docker Alternatives Available?

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Docker is one of the most popular and commonly used container(ization) platforms worldwide. Some other technologies, however, have come up with their distinct approaches for implementing containerization and as such, are potential replacements for Docker.

For people who are new to containers, it is vital to consider the alternatives to Docker. This must be considered because some Docker alternatives offer better security and interoperability with some frameworks.

How to Choose the Right Container Management Platform?

There has been a lot of innovation in containers due to open-source community projects. However, most companies lack the required skill sets to implement containers. Besides, it is very complicated to manage the stream of updates and security patches. Therefore, companies need to hire a team to keep their systems secure and updated.

Companies often take the help of third parties to set up and manage container management platforms. There are some products like Red Hat OpenShift and Pivotal Platform that offer all the required support to the companies for the hassle-free implementation of a container platform. This enables the companies to innovate their products in a stable and secure operating environment.

For each container management platform, the cost, management requirements, and required skill sets are different based on the vendors, cloud providers, and others. Therefore, companies that are inexperienced in managing a container environment take the help of a vendor-supported option. Big IT companies can afford the open source container management platforms as they already have the required resources and skill-sets.

So, it is always recommended to consider the business needs, expense drivers, regulatory requirements, and skill-sets on board before opting for the right Container Management Platform.

Best Docker Alternatives

We have compiled a list of the best Docker alternatives so that you can be completely well informed before selecting one for your use.

1. LXC

This is a part of the open-source project named linuxcontainers.org. LXC is a low-level container management tool. This technology can be called a forerunner to Docker and is sponsored by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu. The main aim of LXC is to provide an isolated application environment to the user. This closely resembles virtual machines (VMs), but without the overhead costs.


  • It follows the Unix process model and there is no central daemon. This simply means that instead of being managed by one central program, the individual containers behave like separate programs in their own right.
  • LXC works differently from a Docker container. You can run more than one process in an LXC container whereas you can only run one process in a Docker container. However, it has been found that Docker containers are better at abstracting resources. Hence, Docker containers are more portable than LXC containers.

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2. Hyper-V Containers

After launching Windows Server 2016, Microsoft came up with two new containerization technologies. These were meant to offer the users a lightweight alternative for the Windows virtual machines. The 2 new container platforms introduced were Windows Containers and Hyper-V Containers.


  • The Hyper-V Containers are more in line with the VM virtualization model as it carries the same kernel. This means that the Hyper-V Containers are more portable than the traditional containers available in the market.
  • The applications running on the new container systems, like Hyper-V, do not rely on their compatibility with the host system. As a result of the isolation from the operating system, they can provide one with better security.
  • Though the only hitch in using Hyper-V Containers is that they have a slightly big infrastructure footprint when compared to the Windows Containers. The Hyper-V Containers, nonetheless, can be easily managed using Docker or Windows PowerShell.

You can signup here.

3. rkt

Earlier known as CoreOSRocket, rkt has become one of the most common alternatives to Docker after the rebranding. This is simply because of its good adoption levels and the strong ecosystem that the containerization platform provides.


  • The advantages of rkt are that it provides good security and great interoperability with the other available frameworks and systems. With LXC, rkt does not use a daemon and hence, gives you more control over the containers.

You can signup here.

4. Podman

This open-source container engine functions in the same way as the Docker engine. The Podman command-line interface uses commands that are similar to that of the Docker CLI. The difference, however, lies in how the two operate behind the scenes.


  • Docker follows the client-server model and uses a daemon for managing the containers. Podman, on the contrary, uses rkt or LXC and does not use a central daemon. This improves the resilience of a Podman container.
  • If the daemon is down in Docker, you will lose control over the containers. In Podman, the containers are completely self-reliant and they can run independently.
  • Docker permits root access to the user, by default. However, in Podman, non-root access is standard. The isolation and user privilege characteristics make Podman more secure than Docker.

You can signup here.

5. runC

This is a universal, lightweight container runtime. runC was initially a low-level Docker but has now become a standalone modular tool, even an alternative to Docker.


  • The main aim to release runC was to improve the portability of the containers. The company did this by giving the users a standard interoperable container. This can work both as part of a Docker container and also independently of the same.
  • runC gives you the freedom so that you do not have to be strongly dependent on a particular containerization technology, cloud service providers, or hardware.

You can signup here.

6. Containerd

Like runC, Containers is a core building block of the Docker platform. However, it has been made separate as an open-source project.


  • This is a daemon that is fully supported by Linux and Windows. It acts as an interface between the container runtimes and the container engines.
  • Containers comes with an abstracted layer and hence, it becomes easy to manage the lifecycles of the containers. This grants several advantages, like making the containers portable and avoiding the problems of making several low-level system calls.

You can signup here.

7. Vagrant

This containerization tool has been specially designed for building, supporting, and maintaining portable virtual environments for developing software. Vagrant aims to maximize productivity by simplifying the management of the software configuration.


  • Vagrant depends solely on the operating system that is present within itself as part of the complete package. While the Docker containers run only on Linux, Vagrant containers can run on any operating system. They just need a virtual Linux machine to run properly.
  • For those individuals, who want to manage virtual machines, use Vagrant. Vagrant has been developed for managing virtual machines and using them for this purpose is a good idea.

You can signup here.

8. VirtualBox

Developed by Oracle, VirtualBox is a virtual environment that can be used by developers for setting up and running applications on various platforms. It can run on any X86 operating system.


  • VirtualBox is helpful for those developers who use cloud computing and also go back and forth between different operating systems.

You can signup here.

9. Cloud Foundry

This is an open-source containerization platform that provides support for the most common programming languages.


  • One can use it for running applications on the computing infrastructure and for deploying apps on an IaaS, such as AWS, GCP, Azure, and others.
  • It also provides a user with a great choice of clouds, different application services, and various frameworks.
  • It makes the entire process of testing, building, deploying, and scaling different kinds of applications very easy for the user.
  • It is a multi-language application platform.

You can signup here.

What are the Pros and Cons of Docker?

Let’s now have a look at the pros and cons of Docker Container. First, we will discuss the pros. Here they are:


  1. Return on Investment (ROI) and Cost Savings: For large and established companies, Dockers can bring down costs while raising profits.
  2. Fast Deployment: Docker facilitates the deployment process. It can create a container for every process and does not even boot an OS. It also allows the creation and destruction of data.
  3. Security: Docker ensures security by segregating and isolating applications running on containers and provides us with complete control over the traffic flow and its management.
  4. Simplicity and Faster Configurations: Docker allows us to configure it as per our requirements, implement that into the code, and deploy it without any hassle.
  5. CI Efficiency: With Docker’s help, we can build a container image and use it over every stage of the deployment process.
    This allows us to separate non-dependent steps and also run them in parallel. Besides, the time it takes from build to production may speed up notably.
  6. Continuous Integration: With tools such as Jenkins, Travis, and Wercker, Docker works well. These tools can save the new version as a Docker image, every time the source code is updated, just tag it with a version number, push it to Docker Hub, and deploy it to production.


  1. Missing features: Many features such as container self-registration, self-inspections, copying files from the host to the container, etc. are missing.
  2. Lacks automated data backup and recovery in the container: When a container goes down, the provision of data backup and data recovery is not there. Although alternatives are there, they are not automated or very scalable yet.
  3. Run applications as fast as a bare-metal server: Docker containers have less overhead but not zero overhead as compared to virtual machines. When an application is run directly on a bare-metal server we get true bare-metal speed even without using containers or virtual machines. However, Containers don’t run at bare-metal speeds.
  4. Lack of cross-platform compatibility: An application designed to run in a Docker container on Windows can’t run on Linux or vice versa. However, this is not the case with virtual machines.
  5. Not possible to run applications with graphical interfaces: Docker is not a good option for applications that require graphical interfaces. It is designed for hosting applications that run on the command line only.
  6. Unable to solve all security problems: Docker creates new security challenges like the difficulty of monitoring multiple moving pieces within a large-scale, dynamic Docker environment.


There are situations like you want to enhance the speed, or increase security or use different operating systems or store large volumes of important data. It is during these times that you need alternatives to Docker.

To circumvent the disadvantages of Docker, one needs to be aware of the different docker alternatives. These are 9 of the best alternatives to Docker that will help you to champion all types of containerization requirements. All the best!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What can I use instead of Docker?

There are many options available other than Docker. We have above in this article presented the 9 best alternatives to Docker that can help you with your requirements related to containerization. You can opt for any of these options.

2. Is Kubernetes replacing Docker?

Kubernetes and Docker are fundamentally two different technologies that work well together for building, delivering, and scaling containerized apps. However, to make Kubernetes easier to manage and maintain, Kubernetes has removed dockershim from the latest v1. 24 release. In this new version of Kubernetes, all container management is now done through the new CRI. 

3. What is the future of Docker?

On Dec. 2, 2020, the contributors to K8 announced the deprecation of the Docker runtime as of version 1.20. Now the runtime for containers is done through Container Runtime Interface (CRI) instead of Docker. However, applications packaged with Docker will continue to run. So, one can still develop and test containers with Docker.

4. Should I use Kubernetes or Docker?

Kubernetes is the best option when it comes to managing large distributed applications with hundreds of connected microservices including databases, secrets, and external dependencies.

5. What will replace Kubernetes?

Micro VM Kubernetes distribution is a promising cloud technology that might replace Kubernetes. This technology enhances the security, workload isolation, and efficiency of resources.

6. When should you not use Docker?

Here are the situations in which you should not use Docker:

  1. If your software is a desktop application.
  2. If your project is small and simple.
  3. If your development team includes one developer or MacBook users only.
  4. If you are looking for a solution to speed up your application.

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