SQL On Docker Environment Variables

James Anderson lists the current environment variables that you can set for a SQL Server on Linux Docker container:

As of CTP 2.1 for SQL Server 2017 a set of new environment variables are available. These variables allow us to configure each SQL Server container as we spin them up. The first version of SQL Server on Linux came with:


These had to be set for the container to start. The SA_PASSWORD has be a complex password or the container will not start. CTP 2.1 introduced:

Read on for the new variables and an example on how to use them.

File Management In Containers

Andrew Pruski hows how to copy files into and out from Docker containers:

Last week I was having an issue with a SQL install within a container and to fix I needed to copy the setup log files out of the container onto the host so that I could review.

But how do you copy files out of a container?

Well, thankfully there’s the docker cp command. A really simple command that let’s you copy whatever files you need out of a running container into a specified directory on the host.

I’ll run through a quick demo but I won’t install SQL, I’ll use an existing SQL image and grab its Summary.txt file.

Read on for the demo.

Attaching A SQL Server Database To A Docker Container

Mat Hayward-Hill shows how to attach an existing MDF file to a SQL Server on Linux instance in Docker:

Now we are ready to attach the database using the TSQL below. For this demo, I used Management Studio from my Laptop, to connect to SQL Server.

In the TSQL we need to use the FOR ATTACH_REBUILD_LOG argument as we have no log file to attach. It will create a 1MB log file in the default log file directory.

It’s better to restore a full backup, but there’s more than one way to connect a database.

Building A SQL Server 2014 Container

Andrew Pruski shows how to create a Docker container with SQL Server 2014 SP2 installed:

I’m running all of this on my Windows 10 machine but there are a few things you’ll need before we get started: –


  • The microsoft/windowsservercore image downloaded from the Docker Hub

  • Windows Server 2016 installation media extracted toC:\Docker\Builds\Windows

  • SQL Server 2014 SP2 Developer Edition installation media extracted to C:\Docker\Builds\SQLServer2014

Or if you prefer, you can just pull his image, but where’s the fun in that?

Connecting Powershell To Docker Containers

Andrew Pruski shows how to open a Powershell session on a container:

One of the questions that I was asked at SQL Saturday Iceland was “how can I view the filesystem within a container?”.

This is a great question as one of the things that people find off-putting about containers is their opaqueness. It’s not obvious where everything lives within the container or how we can view the files within it.

Thankfully there’s a simple docker command that allows us to open a powershell session within a container, that command is docker exec.

For Linux-based containers, /bin/bash (or your favorite shell, if it’s installed) serves as its analog.

Dockerizing Windows Applications

Elton Stoneman has a five-step process for turning your Windows app into a containerized application:

1. Choose Your Base Image

Docker images for Windows apps need to be based on microsoft/nanoserver or microsoft/windowsservercore, or on another image based on one of those.

Which you use will depend on the application platform, runtime, and installation requirements. For any of the following you need Windows Server Core:

  • .NET Framework apps
  • MSI installers for apps or dependencies
  • 32-bit runtime support

For anything else, you should be able to use Nano Server. I’ve successfully used Nano Server as the base image for Go, Java and Node.js apps.

This is good reading if you’re thinking of offering a containerized version of your product.

Saving Docker Images

Andrew Pruski shows how to save a Docker image:

What I’m going to do now is save my custom image to a location [C:\temp] on my host server. So I’ll run: –

docker save -o myfirstimage.tar myfirstimage

N.B. – I’m saving the file as a .tar as this seems to be the format that works best for loading the image. I’ve tried exporting to other formats (.zip) but it always seems to become corrupt. The .tar format has always worked for me so I’ll stick with it.

If I’m understanding Andrew correctly, that’s because docker save will only generate a tar archive.  Keep reading for more details, including how to restore a Docker image to another machine.

Docker GUIs

Andrew Pruski demos Portainer, a user interface for Docker:

So let’s run through the setup and then look at the system. There’s a couple of pre-requisities to this I’m afraid, the first one is that you must setup remote administration using TLS on the Docker host that you want to manage via Portainer. I’ve detailed how to do this here.

Also, Portainer doesn’t support managing a local Docker Engine running on Windows so the way I’ve set it up is to run Portainer locally on Windows 10 and then point it at a server running the Docker Engine I want to manage. This means that you’ll need to install Docker locally, you can do that here.

Of course you get it in a container.  How else would you get the container interface…?

It looks like a nice UI for getting started with Docker.

Azure Container Service Supports Kubernetes

Serdar Yegulalp reports that Azure Container Service now supports the Kubernetes container management system:

Microsoft emphasized “choice” when it originally introduced Azure Container Service. Although it launched without Kubernetes, Azure initially supported Mesosphere DC/OS and Docker Swarm because the majority of Microsoft’s customers used them and the company believed they would be well served by the support.

Since then, Kubernetes has emerged as a clear leader among container orchestration solutions. It is used as an underpinning for deep learning frameworks and the basis for an open source serverless/“lambda” app framework, as well as offered as a managed on-premise service by one company.

Kubernetes on Azure is strictly focused on running Kubernetes within Azure, not providing it as a service elsewhere. But the GA release includes additions meant to appeal to a broad audience of both Linux and Windows Server users, such as support for the latest version of DC/OS (1.8.8).

It’s an interesting world out there.

Remote Docker Administration On Windows Server 2016

Andrew Pruski shows how to perform remote Docker administration:

Continuing on my series in working with Docker on Windows, I noticed that I always open up a remote powershell window when working with Docker on servers. Nothing wrong with this, if you want to know how to do that you can follow my instructions here.

However what if we want to connect to the Docker engine remotely? There’s got to be a way to do that right? Well it’s not quite so straightforward, but there is a way to do it involving a custom image downloaded from the Docker Hub (built by Stefan Scherer [g|t]) whichs creates TLS certs to allow remote connections.

Let’s go through the steps.

Read on for the steps.


May 2017
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