Get started building Node.js applications in docker formatted containers using the Red Hat Container Development CDK (CDK) 2.  Just 3 easy steps.

Introduction and Prerequisites

In this tutorial, you will learn how to start building Node.js applications in docker formatted containers using the Red Hat Container Development Kit (CDK) 2 on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. You need to have CDK 2 installed and should have downloaded the Red Hat Enterprise Linux vagrant box for your system. See the CDK 2 Installation Guide for more information.

If you encounter difficulties at any point, see Troubleshooting and FAQ.

1. Start the Vagrant box

5 minutes

he steps in this tutorial run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) inside the vagrant box. The vagrant box includes docker, OpenShift Enterprise, and kubernetes.. You will enter the commands in this tutorial after logging into the box with vagrant ssh.

Open a Terminal or Command window to enter the commands in this tutorial. On Windows, using Cygwin Terminal instead of a cmd.exe window is suggested.

If you haven’t already installed the CDK, follow the CDK Installation Guide.

Start the vagrant box

To start the vagrant box:

  1. Change to the directory where you unpacked the CDK zip file.

  2. Change to the sub-directory components/rhel/rhel-ose. Alternatively, copy the Vagrantfile in that directory to a working directory of your choosing.

  3. Start the box by entering vagrant up. Note: the Vagrantfile needs to be in the current directory when entering vagrant commands without specifying a box name or a path to the Vagrantfile.

  4. You will be prompted to register the Vagrant box with Red Hat Subscription Management during startup. This is required to allow the box to download software from Red Hat by attaching it to your Red Hat subscription. You will need to enter your Red Hat username and password.

    The vagrant registration plugin will automatically attach the box to your Red Hat subscription when it starts up and release it when the box is shutdown using the vagrant halt command.

When starting the vagrant box, a number of log messages will be displayed. Most of these are informational, however you should review the output if the box fails to start. Below is the output from a typical vagrant up:

$ vagrant up
Bringing machine 'default' up with 'virtualbox' provider...
==> default: Clearing any previously set forwarded ports...
==> default: Clearing any previously set network interfaces...
==> default: Preparing network interfaces based on configuration...
    default: Adapter 1: nat
    default: Adapter 2: hostonly
==> default: Forwarding ports...
    default: 22 => 2222 (adapter 1)
==> default: Running 'pre-boot' VM customizations...
==> default: Booting VM...
==> default: Waiting for machine to boot. This may take a few minutes...
    default: SSH address:
    default: SSH username: vagrant
    default: SSH auth method: private key
    default: Warning: Connection timeout. Retrying...
    default: Warning: Connection timeout. Retrying...
    default: Warning: Remote connection disconnect. Retrying...
==> default: Machine booted and ready!
==> default: Checking for guest additions in VM...
    default: No guest additions were detected on the base box for this VM! Guest
    default: additions are required for forwarded ports, shared folders, host only
    default: networking, and more. If SSH fails on this machine, please install
    default: the guest additions and repackage the box to continue.
    default: This is not an error message; everything may continue to work properly,
    default: in which case you may ignore this message.
==> default: Configuring and enabling network interfaces...
==> default: Registering box with vagrant-registration...
    default: Would you like to register the system now (default: yes)? [y]y
    default: username: _your username_
    default: password: _your password_
==> default: Rsyncing folder: /cygdrive/c/cdk2/components/rhel/rhel-ose/ => /vagrant
==> default: Running provisioner: shell...
    default: Running: inline script
==> default: Created symlink from /etc/systemd/system/ to /etc/systemd/system/openshift.service.

You should now be able to log into the vagrant box using vagrant ssh.

2. Run your first container

5 minutes

This step will download and install Node.js using a container image from the Red Hat Atomic Registry, a repository of container images. Installing the Node.js container will make Node.js available for use by other containers on your system. Because containers run in isolated environments, your host system will not be altered by the installation. You will use docker commands to interact with and view the container’s contents.

The commands shown in this section can be used to download and install other container images, like application containers you build. Containers can specify that they require other containers to be installed, which can happen automatically. For example, you can specify in the Dockerfile that is used to describe and build your container that your application requires Node.js. Then, when someone installs your container, their system will automatically download the required Node.js container directly from the Red Hat Atomic Registry.

Run all of the following commands on Red Hat Enterprise Linux inside the vagrant box. If you haven’t logged into the vagrant box, open a Terminal or Command window and change to the directory cdk/components/rhel-ose/Vagrantfile. Log in with vagrant ssh

To download and install the Node.js container image, use the following command:

$ docker pull

The docker images command lists the container images that are present on your system:

$ docker images

The list will include those you’ve downloaded and any containers previously installed on your system. The CDK vagrant box includes software components that are distributed as container images.

Now start a bash shell to have a look around inside a container that uses the Node.js container image. The shell prompt changes, which is an indication that you are typing at the shell inside the container. A ps -ef shows the only thing running inside the container is bash and ps. Type exit to leave the container’s bash shell.

$ docker run -it openshift3/nodejs-010-rhel7 /bin/bash
bash-4.2$ which node
bash-4.2$ node --version
bash-4.2$ ps -ef
default      1     0  0 14:42 ?        00:00:00 /bin/bash
default     14     1  0 14:42 ?        00:00:00 ps -ef
bash-4.2$ exit

The prior docker run command created a container to run your command, keep any state, and isolate it from the rest of the system. You can view the list of running containers with docker ps. To see all of the containers that have been created, including those that have exited, use docker ps -a. Depending on which Vagrantfile you used there may be a number of other containers running such as containers used to create an OpenShift environment.

You can restart the container that was created above with docker start. Containers are referred to by name. Docker will automatically generate a name if you don’t provide one. Once the container has been restarted, docker attach will let you interact with the shell running inside of it. See the following example:

$ docker ps -a
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                        COMMAND                  CREATED              STATUS                          PORTS               NAMES
84458ca538fb        openshift3/nodejs-010-rhel7   "container-entrypoin   About a minute ago   Exited (0) About a minute ago                       determined_mayer
$ docker start determined_mayer
$ docker attach determined_mayer

At this point you are connected to the running shell inside the container. When you attach you won’t see the command prompt, so hit Enter to get it to print another one.

bash-4.2$ ps -ef
default      1     0  0 14:44 ?        00:00:00 /bin/bash
default     11     1  0 14:45 ?        00:00:00 ps -ef
bash-4.2$ exit

Since the only process in the container, bash, was told to exit the container will no longer be running. This can be verified with docker ps -a. Containers that are no longer needed can be cleaned up with docker rm <container-name>.

$ docker rm determined_mayer

To see what other container images are available in the Red Hat container registry, use one or more of the following searches:

$ docker search
$ docker search
$ docker search
$ docker search

If you need help, see Troubleshooting and FAQ.

3. Build Hello World in a container

 5 minutes

In this step, you will create a tiny Hello World container that uses Node.js as a web server. Once created, the container can be run on other systems that have docker installed. You will need to create several files in an empty directory using your favorite editor, including a Dockerfile that describes how to build the container image.

Note: you can edit files on your host system that can be synchronized to your vagrant box with vagrant rsync. For more information see Vagrant synchronizad folders in the CDK Installation Guide.

First, create an empty directory, and then create a file named Dockerfile with the following contents, but change the MAINTAINER line to have your name and email address:


FROM openshift3/nodejs-010-rhel7



COPY . /opt/app-root/src

CMD /bin/bash -c 'node hello-http.js'

Create the file hello-http.js in the same directory as the Dockerfile:


var http = require('http');
http.createServer(function (req, res) {
    res.writeHead(200, {'Content-Type': 'text/plain'});
    res.end('Hello, Red Hat Developers World!\n');
}).listen(8000, '');
console.log('Server running at');

Now build the container image using docker build.

$ docker build -t myname/nodeweb .

You can see the container image that was created using the following command:

$ docker images

Now run the container using docker run. The Node.js http server module will create a tiny web server that listens on port 8000 inside the container. The run command will map port 8000 on the host machine to port 8000 inside the container.

$ docker run -d -p 8000:8000 --name helloweb myname/nodeweb

The run command returns a unique ID for the container, which you can ignore. To check that the container is running, use docker ps. The output should show a container named helloweb that is running the myname/nodeweb container image you created.

$ docker ps
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE               COMMAND                  CREATED             STATUS              PORTS                              NAMES
c7885aa23773        myname/nodeweb    "container-entrypoint"   6 seconds ago       Up 4 seconds>8000/tcp, 8080/tcp   helloweb

Use curl to access the Node.js web server:

# curl http://localhost:8000/
Hello, Red Hat Developers World!

Note: you should also be able to access the Node.js web server running inside your container from the browser on your host machine. The rhel-ose/Vagrantfile sets the vagrant box’s IP address to The url to use on your host system is

To view the logs from the running container use docker logs <container-name>:

$ docker logs helloweb

When you are done, stop the running container:

$ docker stop helloweb

The helloweb container will be retained until you remove it with docker rm. You can restart the container with docker start helloweb. Note: A subsequent docker run will generate an error if a container with the same name already exists.

You can view information about a container using docker inspect:

$ docker inspect myname/nodeweb

The output is a JSON structure that is easily readable. The Config section has details of the container’s runtime environment such as environment variables and default command. Note that much of the information in the container’s configuration was inherited from the parent container, which in this case is the Node.js runtime container.

Finally, when the application container images you create are ready, you can distribute them by pushing them to a public or private container registry. Your containers will then be available to install on other systems using docker pull.

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Troubleshooting and FAQ

  1. How do I tell if there is a container image available that has a newer version of Node.js?

    How can I see what other container images are available?

    I can’t find the container mentioned in this tutorial, how can I tell if the name changed?

    To see what other containers are available in the Red Hat container registry, use one or more of the following searches:

    $ docker search
    $ docker search
    $ docker search
    $ docker search
  2. Where can I learn more about delivering applications with Linux containers?

    If you haven’t already joined the Red Hat Developers program, sign up at Membership is free.
    Recommended Practices for Container Development and many other container articles are available from the Red Hat Customer Portal.

    If you are a Red Hat Technology Partner, visit the Container Zone or the Red Hat Connect for Technology Partners web site.

Last updated: November 2, 2023