Docker for Mac Support

Docker for Mac is a native hypervisor implementation of Docker that does not rely on a virtual machine provided by Docker Machine. It is new with some limitations and potential conflicts with DevTools. We will highlight the path to a peaceful coexistence.

Using only the Docker for Mac Binaries

Docker for Mac provides docker and docker-compose binaries in /usr/local/bin. This install location conflicts with the binaries provided by Homebrew, but DevTools can use these binaries too. If you have installed Docker for Mac first, you will get errors when trying to install the docker and docker-compose binaries via Homebrew. Those errors are fine, as long as when all is said and done docker, docker-compose, and docker-machine are all available on your $PATH.

To use the binaries with your DevTools VM you simply need to run the eval "$(devtools config)" command to setup your Docker environment. This will point the docker to your VM. You will need to do this in every shell that you want to use the DevTools VM. If you then need to transition back to using the Docker for Mac hypervisor, you will need to unset the DevTools docker configuration. Use eval "$(docker-machine env -u)" to unset all DOCKER_* environment variables.

If you need to do this often, we recommend setting up aliases to set/unset the env vars.

alias dte='eval "$(devtools config)"'
alias dtu='eval "$(dcoker-machine env -u)"'

Using the Docker for Mac Binaries and Hypervisor

To use the Docker for Mac Hypervisor follow the basic instructions below.

Docker for Mac is less performant (early 2017)

The FUSE driver they use to share your host filesystem into the hypervisor/contaienrs is not nearly as performant as the NFS mount we use with the DevTools VM. Therefore, operations that do either a lot of filesystem reading (like directory scan) or writing (like restoring DB dumps) will take much longer to perform. It is advisable to use the DevTools VM / Virtualbox for the time being simply for performance reasons.

Networking limitation when using the Docker for Mac Hypervisor

There are some known limitations with the way networking is implemented with Docker for Mac. Most notable we can not directly access containers on their native IP address due to the lack of the docker0 bridge network that exists in the Docker Machine VM implementation. These limitations inhibit the fluid environment that DevTools enables and as such is not natively supported (yet). We have done our best to highlight the issues and some of our ideas for workarounds below. Let us know how it goes if you venture down this path.

Setup /data

DevTools makes a convention out of a /data directory within the VM. To provide the same directory to Docker for Mac, create a /data directory in the root of your Mac filesystem. You may need to open up the permissions so the container(s) can write to it.

sudo mkdir /data && sudo chmod 777 /data

Once you have created that directory, go into Docker for Mac > Preferences > File Sharing and add /data to the list of shares and Apply & Restart Docker for Mac. With this /data directoy setup your Compose files should work on either the Docker for Mac Hypervisor or the DevTools VM.

Accessing your Container Services

Docker for Mac does not provide a mechanism to route network traffic directly to your containers, they only support publishing (binding) ports from your running containers to your host. This means that all services are accessed on localhost ( and share the same port space. (Two web server can't both publish to port 80). The approach we think makes sense (but don't actively support) is:

  • Run jwilder/nginx-proxy as your only service that binds to port 80
  • Start all of your web containers with the VIRTUAL_HOST environment variable used by nginx-proxy to specify it's domain name
  • Resolve the domain name from the above VIRTUAL_HOST variable in one of two ways
  • Edit your /etc/hosts file and point the domain name at
  • Use dnsmasq
    • Make sure dnsdock is not running
    • In /etc/resolver/vm have nameserver
    • Run a dnsmasq container, bind it to port 53, configured to resolve all .vm addresses to

Uninstalling Docker for Mac

Since Docker for Mac and Homebrew both install the Docker binaries in to /usr/local/bin after you uninstall Docker for Mac your DevTools environment wont work. You may see an error like command not found: docker. The Docker for Mac installation overwrote the Homebrew based Docker installation, but brew still believes they are installed, so you'll need to unlink and re-link.

brew unlink docker && brew link docker
brew unlink docker-compose && brew link docker-compose
brew unlink docker-machine && brew link docker-machine