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Docker Compose on macOS without the app

Most of the content is basically the commands from this article. But it took me too long to find, so reposting it here for my own benefit.

As the wise people of the Internet said:

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So, we want the docker and docker compose commands but not the Docker desktop app. It’s possible thanks to an open-source daemon/client named colima. That’s what we’ll run here.

First, install

brew install colima docker docker-credential-helper


colima start

Check that it works:

docker context ls

Which should give you

NAME       DESCRIPTION                               DOCKER ENDPOINT                                             KUBERNETES ENDPOINT                    ORCHESTRATOR
colima *   colima                                    unix:///Users/{you}/.colima/default/docker.sock
default    Current DOCKER_HOST based configuration   unix:///var/run/docker.sock                        (default)   swarm

Finally, for docker compose:

brew install docker-compose
mkdir -p ~/.docker/cli-plugins
ln -sfn /opt/homebrew/opt/docker-compose/bin/docker-compose ~/.docker/cli-plugins/docker-compose

And you’re good to go!