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Quick Answers

Podman vs. Docker – What's the Difference?

Podman and Docker are container management tools serving similar purposes. But there are integral differences between these two engines. As part of our quick answers series, we explore these key concepts here..

Shamyla Riaz, MS A photo of Shamyla Riaz, MS

Shamyla Riaz, MS

Cloud and IoT Expert

Our quick answers series is here to deliver easy, speedy answers to some of the most common cloud tech queries. Today, we’ll be covering what makes container management tools Podman and Docker different from each other.

You may or may not already be familiar with Podman and Docker. They serve the same purpose in architecture, running, and managing containers. However, due to running commands and daemon-less architecture, Podman is more secure than Docker. To get more familiar in how they operate,  let's go through the similarities and differences between these two engines.

How Does Docker Work?

Docker is a platform to create, deploy, and manage applications through containers. It has become one of the most popular containerization tools due to its relative simplicity. Docker allows developers and businesses to build and deploy applications. By design, Docker is considered a secure tool, especially when non-privileged users (as opposed to the root user)  execute processes. However, Docker becomes more secure if users apply security best practices with other tools.

What is Podman and How Does it Work?

Podman is a rootless container engine (it acts as an additional security layer). It was developed by Red Hat as an alternative to Docker to design, manage, and run containers on Linux systems. The modular design permits Podman to utilize the individual system components but only when it is highly in demand. Due to its rootless approach to container management, it allows containers to be deployed by non-root users (without administrative privileges). Moreover, rootless containers are also another Podman feature that increases the security of the entire system.


Here's a brief look at the major differences between Docker and Podman.


  • Docker uses the  Docker daemon

  • Docker runs root-only containers

  • Docker has the ability to build container images

  • Docker is a monolithic platform

  • Docker supports Docker-swarm 

  • Docker supports Docker-compose 

  • Docker runs natively on Linux, macOS, and Windows


  • Podman is a Daemonless architecture

  • Podman runs containers as root and non-root

  • Podman uses Buildah to build container images

  • Podman is a non-monolithic platform

  • Podman does not support Docker-swarm 

  • Podman does not support Docker-compose 

  • Podman runs natively on macOS, Linux, and Windows (with WSL)

In a nutshell, Docker has become one of the most popular container engines in the containerization market. At the same time, Podman has a distinct edge over Docker primarily because it runs commands and security protocols. Therefore, your choice between the two will depend on your particular use case in any given situation.

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