https://docs.docker.com/machine/overview/#whats-the-difference-between-docker-engine-and-docker-machine says

Docker Machine is a tool for provisioning and managing your Dockerized hosts (hosts with Docker Engine on them). Typically, you install Docker Machine on your local system.

Docker Machine has its own command line client docker-machine and the Docker Engine client, docker.

You can use Machine to install Docker Engine on one or more virtual systems. These virtual systems can be local (as when you use Machine to install and run Docker Engine in VirtualBox on Mac or Windows) or remote (as when you use Machine to provision Dockerized hosts on cloud providers). The Dockerized hosts themselves can be thought of, and are sometimes referred to as, managed “machines”.

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Are "dockerized hosts" always virtual machines, not actual machines?

Is Docker Machine (docker-machine) only used when dockerd is running in virtual machines but not in actual machines?


  • docker-machine and docker are basically a docker client which connects to dockerd daemon.
    – Biswapriyo
    Apr 3, 2019 at 13:25
  • Is it correct that docker-machine can install dockerd? So how can docker-machine be a client if no dockerd is running?
    – Tim
    Apr 3, 2019 at 13:26

1 Answer 1


docker-machine can be used on bare-metal with the generic driver. It needs a running system with an SSH server; it will take care of installing Docker on the target if necessary, and configuring the host appropriately.

  • Thanks. In bare metal case, If not using docker-machine, what can I use to do the same thing as docker-machine? What is the benefit of using docker-machine?
    – Tim
    Apr 3, 2019 at 12:40
  • If you don’t want to use docker-machine, you can replicate what it does manually — log in to the target system, install Docker, start the service, or stop it if you want to replicate docker-machine restart, etc. The benefit of using docker-machine is that it handles all that for you, with a uniform interface regardless of the type of host you’re using (bare metal, VM, cloud host...). Apr 3, 2019 at 19:50

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