Docker, a popular multi-platform application used by software developers, has released a version that runs natively on Apple Silicon hardware, including Macs released with Apple’s specially designed M1 chip.
The M1 chip uses the ARM instruction set and cannot run software designed to run on the x86 architecture used by the Intel processors in previously released Macs. While the previous version of Docker did work through Apple’s Rosetta solution, the introduction of an M1 native version of Docker helps close the gap for developers concerned about getting the most out of their entire suite of tools. .
It follows the release of M1 versions of Homebrew, Visual Studio Code and other developer tools and applications. But there are still some gaps, for example Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2019 IDE (which is different from the relatively lightweight Visual Studio Code) has not been updated.
Docker became popular among developers because it allowed for relatively easy use of containers, allowing multiple applications to be developed and tested on a single machine, sharing the operating system kernel without interfering with each other.
The public release of the Apple Silicon version of Docker Desktop for Mac was installed 45,000 times in a technical preview, and the Docker press release says developers who participated in that preview said the application ran “faster and quieter” than it did before the M1 -update. The press release contained the following statement from Docker Captain Ajeet Singh Raina:
For the many developers eager to find out if they can use the latest Macs as development machines with Docker, the wait is over… Docker Desktop for Mac [Apple Silicon] lets you do everything you’ve already done on a Mac, and you’ll be able to do it faster and with less noise.
A blog post on the Docker website says that M1 support “quickly became by far our most valued roadmap asset ever” after it was first requested.
That said, Apple has only released a few Macs that include the M1, and they’re all lower-end machines with limitations like low maximum RAM configurations, support for only one external monitor at a time, and fewer Thunderbolt ports than high-end machines that still Have Intel chips, meaning most of the Apple Silicon Macs that would be best suited for developers are yet to be released.
If so, they may not have the M1, but may instead include related chips with performance or feature improvements over the M1. There’s no reason to expect that the changes made to Docker and other M1-native software won’t work as well on that new chip, if any.
The full release notes for Docker Desktop 3.3.1 with Apple Silicon support can be found on the Docker Docs website.