Dokku vs Docker

Mobile app development has come a long way since its early days. As mobile traffic increases, developers now look towards dynamic add development tools that enables them to push applications to the end-users in the shortest time.

Platforms like Dokku help them in this regard, allowing them to build and deploy an application to a production environment. Continue reading as we delve deeper into the differences between Docker and Dokku and compare their advantages so that you can make an informed decision.

What is Dokku?

Dokku is a Heroku-like Platform as a Service (PaaS) that allows developers to build and deploy their applications to a production environment on a separate server. The remote-server deployments are managed through Docker, a Linux based container system, as it builds a new isolated container each time you push a code stack.

This free and open-source PaaS runs on Ubuntu, Debian 9, or CentOS 7, and needs a minimum of 1GB system memory to run. Dokku is one of the smallest PaaS implementations available in the market, but that speaks nothing of its capabilities.

It is essentially meant to run on a fresh VM installation, and users can also direct a domain name to a host IP to use it. Moreover, Dokku manages the server configuration on your behalf, so that you can spend more time improving the actual app experience.

Dokku Core Features 

  • Buildpacks: Developers and operators can push applications through the official Heroku buildpacks, ensuring compatibility with the Heroku environment. For more controlled deployment, you can also use Docker files to customise the deployment process.
  • Instant subdomains: Whenever you push the code for a new app stack, Dokku automatically manages the various access domains and assigns a new subdomain. The Nginx configuration is also managed on your behalf and Dokku will route the traffic to the correct container accordingly.
  • Multiple plugins: Dokku supports multiple plugins that can vastly improve the capability of the program, including the likes of PostgreSQL, Elastic Search, and Let’s Encrypt. These plugins allow developers to add various functionality without bloating the main application.

Dokku Advantages 

  • Free and open source

Dokku is a free and open-source PaaS implementation that can be run on top of your preferred app development environment. Developers only need to purchase the development environment, like a Digital Ocean plan, and access the features once the app goes live. This implementation significantly cuts down the production costs and makes the project more sustainable.

  • Accelerated time to market

Dokku is a lightweight yet extremely versatile and dynamic app development platform offering a variety of services in association with providers like AWS, Digital Ocean, Google Cloud, etc. It handles the complex infrastructure management on your behalf so you can focus on improving the app and pushing it out to the market quickly.

  • Feature-rich CLI

The feature-rich command-line interface comes with a small learning curve but makes the app development process extremely easy and fast. Everything on Dokku can be accessed using line commands, and the platform has various domain-, environment variable-, container-, and application-specific commands, which can be easily found in the online repositories.

What is Docker? 

Dubbed as an “enterprise container platform”, Docker is a versatile tool that helps millions of developers build, run, and deliver software in isolated packages called containers.

Each container runs independent from others and bundles its own software, libraries, and configuration files. It is one of the most popular container platforms allowing uninterrupted, high-velocity innovation, allowing organisations to build and deploy applications anywhere they want.

Docker essentially uses OS-level virtualisation to separate the application from the infrastructure, allowing developers the same level of control over managing the infrastructure as they have over the application. 

Docker Features 

  • Software-defined networking: Docker enables dynamic, programmatically efficient network configuration by separating the network control plane from the forwarding plane. Operators can design systems with complex network topologies and improve network performance and monitoring by defining isolated networks for containers without touching a single router. 
  • Portability: Containers are portable and entirely self-contained with an isolated disk volume that contains the software dependencies like runtimes and libraries. Docker containers eliminate the configuration variance problems, as if a container runs on your machine, it will also run the same way in the development and production environments. 
  • Easy to use: Docker is open-source, and the website contains detailed information on how to use the platform in various scenarios. It is also easy to learn and several resources available online will help you learn how to build and manage isolated containers easily. You can get started with Docker with any machine that supports virtual machines or an OS that supports containers natively.

Docker Advantages 

  • Flexibility

Applications running in Docker containers are inherently more flexible and resilient compared to apps not running in a containerised environment. Orchestrators are powerful tools that manage large deployments and complex systems. Docker’s flexibility frees developers from vendor lock-in concerns and presents multiple deployment options.

  • Faster scaling

Containerised environments are also easier to scale without spending much on improving the hardware. Unlike the early days of the internet, where scalability meant purchasing more and faster servers, containers allow operators to cram more workloads into their existing hardware, reducing the cost of scaling up the application when the userbase increases.

  • Better for microservices

Microservices are applications that are essentially a collection of several loosely coupled services, each responsible for only one feature. Unlike monoliths that become difficult to manage once they grow larger, containers shipping with the software dependencies are more efficient and can be easily deployed.


Docker and Dokku are both open-source tools favoured by developers for various reasons.

As a developer, you will need to understand the needs of the projects thoroughly before selecting either. If you are unable to decide on your own, contacting a leading app hosting company will help you gain better insights on the topic.


What is Dokku?

Dokku is a Heroku-like Platform as a Service (PaaS) that allows developers to build and deploy their applications to a production environment on a separate server.

What is Dokker?

Docker is a versatile tool that helps millions of developers build, run, and deliver software in isolated packages called containers.

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