Skip to content

Experimental Docker Configurations

Remote Docker Instances

You can use remote Docker instances, whether on the internet, inside your network, or running in a virtual machine.

  • On the remote machine, the Docker port must be exposed if it’s not already. See instructions for how to do this on a systemd-based remote server. Be aware that this has serious security implications and must not be done without taking those into consideration. In fact, dockerd will complain:

    Binding to IP address without --tlsverify is insecure and gives root access on this machine to everyone who has access to your network. host="tcp://".

  • If you do not already have the Docker client installed (like you would from Docker Desktop), install just the client with brew install docker.

  • Create a Docker context that points to the remote Docker instance. For example, if the remote hostname is debian-11, then docker context create debian-11 --docker host=tcp://debian-11:2375 && docker use debian-11. Alternately, you can use the DOCKER_HOST environment variable, e.g. export DOCKER_HOST=tcp://debian-11:2375.
  • Make sure you can access the remote machine using docker ps.
  • Bind mounts cannot work on a remote Docker setup, so you must use ddev config global --no-bind-mounts. This will cause DDEV to push needed information to and from the remote Docker instance when needed. This also automatically turns on Mutagen caching.
  • You may want to use a FQDN other than * because the DDEV site will not be at For example, ddev config --fqdns=debian-11 and then use https://debian-11 to access the site.
  • If the Docker host is reachable on the internet, you can actually enable real HTTPS for it using Let’s Encrypt as described in Casual Webhosting. Just make sure port 2375 is not available on the internet.

Rancher Desktop on macOS

Rancher Desktop is another quickly-maturing Docker Desktop alternative for macOS. You can install it for many target platforms from the release page.

Rancher Desktop integration currently has no automated testing for DDEV integration.

  • By default, Rancher Desktop will provide a version of the Docker client if you don’t have one on your machine.
  • Rancher changes over the “default” context in Docker, so you’ll want to turn off Docker Desktop if you’re using it.
  • Rancher Desktop does not provide bind mounts, so use ddev config global --no-bind-mounts which also turns on Mutagen.
  • Use a name, ddev config --additional-fqdns=rancher for example, because the resolution of * seems to make it not work.
  • Rancher Desktop does not seem to currently work with mkcert and https, so turn those off with mkcert -uninstall && rm -r "$(mkcert -CAROOT)". This does no harm and can be undone with just mkcert -install again.

Last update: October 5, 2022