Screenshot - Podman Desktop, Pods, Podman-Tui, Podman Desktop Companion

Podman - Graphical Interfaces (for Terminal, Desktop and Server)

Podman Jun 8, 2022

It may be a surprise to you, but I am a huge fan of Podman. Recently, there is lots of development for Desktop integration, but there are also graphical tools for the browser or Command Line.

If you want to manage your images and containers with in a graphical way, this article may be for you.

Podman

Podman is a daemonless container engine for developing, managing, and running OCI Containers on your System. It is available for Linux, macOS and Windows. Container can run either as root or in rootless mode.

You can also use Podman as a drop-in replacement for Docker by setting a simple alias in your bashrc file.

echo "alias docker=podman" >> ~/.bashrc

I have also written a couple of articles to get you started, about building images or using systemd. All articles are available via the Tag "Podman".

💡
This guide is tested on Fedora Linux 36 with Podman 4.1.0.

Command Line

Sure, Podman already has a ton of awesome commands and most of you will know, that running a container is just a command away. But, there is also a TUI (Terminal User Interface) available.

The installation in Fedora 36 is as easy as sudo dnf install podman-tui. Afterwards, you can open the application with the podman-tui command.

Screenshot - Podman TUI

You can switch between the contexts with "F-keys" and run commands in each context with the command menu via m.

Browser

For servers (including home servers), it may be a good idea to have some management options in the browser. The Cockpit Project provides capabilities to manage your Podman containers and images in the browser.

The installation is really easy in Fedora and CentOS:

# Install Cockpit and Cockpit Podman
$ sudo dnf install cockpit cockpit-podman

# Start the services
$ sudo systemctl enable --now cockpit.socket podman.service

If you are using another Linux operating system, you should have a look at the Cockpit Installation instructions.

Afterwards, you can point your browser to localhost:9090.

Screenshot - Cockpit Podman

Here you can have a look at running containers, images, networks and much more.

I already had a look at Cockpit in another article and will provide some more details in the upcoming Fedora Home Server article, too.

Desktop Applications

Podman manages container workflows mostly on the command line. But sometimes a Desktop Application can be helpful, too. Let's have a look at some recent development.

By the way, none of them need a special "Desktop" license to be used, but are completely free and Open Source.

Pods

The Pods application is made by marhkb (Marcus Behrendt). He describes his GTK/GNOME application as:

Interact with Podman using an intuitive desktop application.

Pods focuses on simplicity and good usability. The only requirement is that you have Podman installed.

Pods is currently under heavy development, but you can install it already, using Flatpak. You only need to download the latest build from GitHub and install it (for testing purposes).

# Download latest CI Build
$ wget https://nightly.link/marhkb/pods/workflows/ci/main/pods-x86_64.zip

# Unpack the archive
$ unzip pods-x86_64.zip

# Install package
$ flatpak install pods.flatpak

Afterwards, you can open the application and play around with it.

Screenshot - Pods

You can do all the basic things like downloading images or creating containers. I am sure that there is more to come and that we will hear from this cool application in the future.

For me, it is the most "GNOME'ish" application in the selection. Slick, minimal, easy to use and pleasing to the eyes.

Podman Desktop Companion

The Podman Desktop Companion is another application that wants to provide as "Docker Desktop" experience for Podman. The application aims to be cross-platform compatible and provides installation options for Windows, macOS and Linux.

For my Setup, I opted for the Flatpak variant again. But there are also options for RPM, DEB and AppImage available.

# Download the flatpak
$ wget https://github.com/iongion/podman-desktop-companion/releases/download/4.1.0-rc.28/podman-desktop-companion-x86_64-4.1.0-rc.28.flatpak

# Install the flatpak
$ flatpak install podman-desktop-companion-x86_64-4.1.0-rc.28.flatpak

Afterwards, you can open the Desktop application and connect to your Podman installation.

Screenshot - Podman Desktop Companion

You can view, create and delete all the typical Podman workload like containers, volumes and networks.

If you want to have a Desktop application for different operating systems than Linux, this one may be for you.

Podman Desktop

Podman Desktop is the development effort from the Podman developers to provide a desktop application. It is in a very early stage, but there is lots of activity.

The installation of the latest development release can be done with Flatpak again. But, there are also downloads available for other installation options, including Windows and macOS.

# Download Podman Desktop
$ wget https://github.com/containers/podman-desktop/releases/download/v0.0.202205171442-f543620/podman-desktop-0.0.202205171442-f543620.flatpak

# Install Podman Desktop
$ flatpak install podman-desktop-0.0.202205171442-f543620.flatpak

Afterwards, you can open the application and have a look at the current development status.

Screenshot - Podman Desktop

To be honest, there is not very much to see here. The application has a very limited set of features and is lacking design-wise, too. Anyway, it is developed as part of the containers organization and therefore I will follow the future development very closely.

For convenience and fast access, you can find the application links below.

Podman
GitHub - containers/podman-tui: Podman Terminal UI
Podman Terminal UI. Contribute to containers/podman-tui development by creating an account on GitHub.
GitHub - cockpit-project/cockpit-podman: Cockpit UI for podman containers
Cockpit UI for podman containers. Contribute to cockpit-project/cockpit-podman development by creating an account on GitHub.
GitHub - marhkb/pods: A podman desktop application
A podman desktop application. Contribute to marhkb/pods development by creating an account on GitHub.
GitHub - iongion/podman-desktop-companion: Podman desktop companion
Podman desktop companion. Contribute to iongion/podman-desktop-companion development by creating an account on GitHub.
GitHub - containers/podman-desktop: Manage Podman and other container engines from a single UI and tray
Manage Podman and other container engines from a single UI and tray - GitHub - containers/podman-desktop: Manage Podman and other container engines from a single UI and tray

Conclusion

For terminal users, podman-tui is looking awesome. On servers, Cockpit Podman is providing an awesome experience.

It's more interesting on the Desktop. From my perspective, Pods seems like the most interesting application. It is a candidate for GNOME circle applications, for sure. For cross-platform support, it will be a decision between Podman Desktop and Podman Desktop Companion.

Which application is interesting for you? Are you looking into graphical interfaces for your container workload? Do you know an interface, that was not mentioned in this article?

I would love to hear about your use cases. :)

Tags

Daniel Schier

Just a guy doing stuff. Mostly #FLOSS like #Linux, #Ansible, #Podman, #k8s, #Python, #Nextcloud or whatever comes next. You can also find me on Maston (https://fosstodon.org/@dschier).