Containers over RPI: setup a Docker environment with Raspbian Buster Lite and Portainer

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With the new Rasbian Buster available, it’s interesting to check if some basilar installations are going to be as simple as with previous version.

RPI 3 model A+Today’s goal is to setup a docker environment and Portainer with Raspbian Buster Lite. It will  be tested on a Raspberry Pi model A+ but the procedure is the same also for other Raspberry Pi hardware (Pi 4, PI3 model B+, PI 3 Model B).

What we need

To setup our docker environment using the new Raspberry Pi model A+, we’ll not use keyboards or TV cables. Our OS installation will provide a basis having already WiFi and SSH ready to be used at first boot.


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  • Raspbian Buster Lite disk image (you can download it from Raspbian official download page, used version 4.19)
  • an image flashing software like, for example, Etcher
  • a remote ssh software (like Putty if you’re working from a Windows remote PC)

Step-by-step guide to setup Docker

Setup process is really simple.

The first part involves standard OS installation, which can be found in our previous article that you can find here.

Before proceeding, be sure to have an updated OS:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

The default (and suggested) Docker installation comes with convenience script, a simplified sh script which makes all for you. Typr from terminal the following lines:

curl -fsSL -o
sudo sh

It will take a few minutes to complete installation. At prompt, test it by typing:

sudo docker version

You can also test docker by running the default hello-world image:

sudo docker run hello-world

If you would like to use Docker as a non-root user, you should now consider adding your user to the “docker” group. To accomplish it for default pi user:

sudo usermod -aG docker pi

You will need to logout and login (or reboot) to make it working or you will have still permission issues using docker without sudo.

Installing Portainer

A graceful web GUI helping in managing containers is portainer. In our case, we need to install an arm compatible version:

docker pull portainer/portainer:linux-arm
docker run -d -p 9000:9000 -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock -v portainer_data:/data portainer/portainer:linux-arm

Now you can reach your docker server with a browser, just connecting to https://<<RaspberryIpAddress>>:9000.

You will be required to set your default password for admin user, then you will be prompted to portainer GUI:

Portainer new

Installing Docker-compose

Docker-compose enables your Docker environment to use yaml files to compose and quickly boot complete services. Its installation is very simple, requires pip and can be done with the following commands:

sudo apt-get install python3-pip
sudo pip3 install docker-compose

Verify your docker-compose installation by typing:

docker-compose --version

Enjoy your Docker environment inside the Raspberry PI!