Portainer and starboard

Sail smoothly with a simple management UI for Docker

Sarah Schlothauer
© Shutterstock / In Green

Docker management done easy! Portainer is a sleek UI for managing your Docker applications. Deploying is easy. Let’s set sail, see what’s on deck, and get started.

What’s a ship without a port? What’s Docker without Portainer?

This simple, lightweight UI provides a sleek solution for container environments. Of course, it’s also open source and offers a free version.

If Docker is your container of choice, we recommend Portainer for simpler management.

Shipshape Docker management

SEE ALSO: Building geographically distributed microservices with containers

Sometimes managing all of your Docker containers is as difficult as manning a ship or keeping up with a large crew. Even the most tidy of us can easily drown in a large amount of containers before we know it. Luckily, Portainer can help.

From the GitHub repo:

Portainer is a lightweight management UI which allows you to easily manage your different Docker environments (Docker hosts or Swarm clusters).

Portainer is meant to be as simple to deploy as it is to use. It consists of a single container that can run on any Docker engine (can be deployed as Linux container or a Windows native container).

Portainer allows you to manage your Docker containers, images, volumes, networks and more ! It is compatible with the standalone Docker engine and with Docker Swarm mode.

The UI is crisp and easy to understand, with plenty of features and additional customization at your fingertips.

(Stickler for details? Not only can you use your own template, but you can even switch in your own logo into the UI. Now that is attention to detail!)

The best for the job?

What about the alternatives? Not so long ago, Shipyard was one of the top Docker management tools. Unfortunately, Shipyard retired to the great ocean in the sky. However, the creator of Shipyard listed Portainer as an alternative solution.

(The other listed recommendation is UI for Docker. However this repo has been deprecated and its development continues at Portainer.)

Portainer remains your best bet for an up-to-date Docker interface tool. We will keep our eyes on the horizon to see if any similar tools arrive so that we can compare or contrast.

Recently updated on December 12, 2018 with additional security buffers, it cruises along steadily. Version 1.20.0 adds several new minor changes, settings, and services. For now, there is only partial support for Docker 1.9.

For users that need more than just a helping hand, extensions for Portainer  help manage larger, more complex environments. While right now the only available extension is Registry Manager, the website promises more in early 2019. (This will include Single Sign On and Operations Management.)

Take it for a ride!

SEE ALSO: Containers: Big opportunity or big distraction?

A free demo of Portainer available online guides you through what the project looks like.

Simply log in with the provided credentials: username is admin, password is tryportainer.


Need more time before you make up your mind? You may also deploy a copy of the demo inside of a play-with-docker playground. While the settings remain the same, you instead have four hours before the session is deleted, compared to the demo’s shorter 15 minutes.

Portainer for all? Thankfully, it’s available for Linux, Windows, and OSX.

Have you given it a go and do you recommend Portainer to other users? Let us know what you think!

Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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