Deploy on Kubernetes

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Docker Desktop includes a standalone Kubernetes server and client, as well as Docker CLI integration that runs on your machine. The Kubernetes server runs locally within your Docker instance, is not configurable, and is a single-node cluster.

The Kubernetes server runs within a Docker container on your local system, and is only for local testing. Enabling Kubernetes allows you to deploy your workloads in parallel, on Kubernetes, Swarm, and as standalone containers. Enabling or disabling the Kubernetes server does not affect your other workloads.

Enable Kubernetes

To enable Kubernetes in Docker Desktop, go to Preferences > Kubernetes and then click Enable Kubernetes.

Click Apply & Restart to save the settings and then click Install to confirm. This instantiates images required to run the Kubernetes server as containers, and installs the /usr/local/bin/kubectl command on your machine.

Enable Kubernetes

By default, Kubernetes containers are hidden from commands like docker ps, because managing them manually is not supported. To see these internal containers, select Show system containers (advanced). Most users do not need this option.

When Kubernetes is enabled and running, an additional status bar item displays at the bottom right of the Docker Desktop Settings dialog.

The status of Kubernetes shows in the Docker menu and the context points to docker-desktop.

Docker Menu with Kubernetes

Upgrade Kubernetes

Docker Desktop does not upgrade your Kubernetes cluster automatically after a new update. To upgrade your Kubernetes cluster to the latest version, select Reset Kubernetes Cluster.

Use the kubectl command

Kubernetes integration provides the Kubernetes CLI command at /usr/local/bin/kubectl on Mac and at C:\>Program Files\Docker\Docker\Resources\bin\kubectl.exe on Windows. This location may not be in your shell’s PATH variable, so you may need to type the full path of the command or add it to the PATH.

If you have already installed kubectl and pointing to some other environment, such as minikube or a GKE cluster, ensure you change the context so that kubectl is pointing to docker-desktop:

$ kubectl config get-contexts
$ kubectl config use-context docker-desktop

If you installed kubectl using Homebrew, or by some other method, and experience conflicts, remove /usr/local/bin/kubectl.

You can test the command by listing the available nodes:

$ kubectl get nodes

NAME                 STATUS    ROLES     AGE       VERSION
docker-desktop       Ready     master    3h        v1.19.7

For more information about kubectl, see the kubectl documentation.

Disable Kubernetes

To disable Kubernetes support at any time, clear the Enable Kubernetes check box. This stops and removes Kubernetes containers, and also removes the /usr/local/bin/kubectl command.

deploy, kubernetes, kubectl, orchestration