September 24, 2022
Docker images consist of multiple layers that collectively provide the content you see in your containers. But what actually is a layer, and how does it differ from a complete image? In this article you’ll learn how to distinguish these two concepts and why the difference matters. While you can use Docker without a thorough…

Docker images consist of multiple layers that collectively provide the content you see in your containers. But what actually is a layer, and how does it differ from a complete image?

In this article you’ll learn how to distinguish these two concepts and why the difference matters. While you can use Docker without a thorough understanding of layers, having an awareness of their purpose will help you identify optimization opportunities.

What’s an Image?

A Docker “image” behaves like a template from which consistent containers can be created. If Docker was a traditional virtual machine, the image could be likened to the ISO used to install your VM. This isn’t a robust comparison, as Docker differs from VMs in terms of both concept and implementation, but it’s a useful starting point nonetheless.

Images define the initial filesystem state of new containers. They bundle your application’s source code and its dependencies into a self-contained package that’s ready to use with a container runtime. Within the image, filesystem content is represented as multiple independent layers.

What are Layers?

Layers are a result of the way Docker images are built. Each…

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