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LXD vs Docker: A Detailed Comparison

In today’s complex business world, adaptability and growth are key. To navigate this complexity, choosing the right tools is important. When it comes to software development, the right tools can make a significant difference. It enables quick delivery and seamless deployment.

In this blog, we’ll be comparing LXD vs Docker, two widely used containerization tools. We’ll understand their features, advantages, disadvantages, similarities, and differences. Supportfly, with its Docker consulting services, has made this comparison possible. The aim is to help developers and operation engineers make right choices for their application development and management needs.

Both LXD and Docker play essential roles in managing containers, isolating applications, simplifying development, and ensuring robust security. In simpler terms, these tools allow you to develop, run, control, and scale applications securely. So, without further ado, let’s dive in and explore which tool suits your needs best!

LXD vs Docker: What is LXD?

Before doing the LXD vs Docker comparison, let’s learn a bit about LXD. LXD is a system container manager developed by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux. It is designed to provide a more straightforward and user-friendly way to create, manage, and run system containers on Linux-based systems.

System containers, as opposed to application containers like Docker, are designed to capture an entire operating system. It allows for lightweight virtualization and efficient resource utilization. LXD achieves this by leveraging the Linux kernel’s native containerization features, such as namespaces and cgroups.

The LXD source code is available on GitHub, and you should know that it is developed in the Go programming language. Furthermore, LXD provides a wide variety of Linux distributions via its image-based interface. LXD provides a template distribution system for developing and managing containers. You can control all of your system containers’ instances with a single command.

Key Features of LXD

LXD offers a range of powerful features. These make it popular among developers and system administrators. Here are the key features of LXD:

  • System Containers: LXD allows you to create and manage system containers. System containers capture entire Linux distributions. Unlike application containers, system containers include an OS. They enable you to run multiple Linux distributions on the same host.
  • Resource Efficiency: LXD provides efficient use of system resources, allowing you to run numerous containers on a single host. This efficient use of resources is particularly valuable in cloud and data center environments.
  • Fast and Lightweight: LXD containers are lightweight and start quickly, enabling rapid deployment and scaling of applications. This speed is essential for dynamic environments where applications need to be launched and shut down rapidly.
  • Live Migration: LXD supports live migration, which means you can move containers from one host to another without any downtime. This feature is crucial for maintaining high availability and load balancing in cluster environments.
  • Snapshots and Clones: LXD allows you to create snapshots of containers at specific points in time. Snapshots capture the container’s state, including its file system and configuration. You can also create clones from these snapshots, making it easy to replicate environments for testing or development purposes.
  • Security: LXD utilizes Linux kernel security features such as namespaces and AppArmor/SELinux profiles to ensure strong isolation between containers. Each container operates in its own namespace, providing process and network isolation.
  • REST API: LXD provides a RESTful API, allowing for programmatic management of containers. This API facilitates automation and integration with other tools and systems.
  • Image Management: LXD supports a wide variety of Linux distribution images. It offers an image server and image handling tools, making it easy to download, upload, and manage container images.
  • Graphical User Interface (GUI): LXD comes with a web-based graphical interface for users who prefer a visual way to manage containers. The GUI simplifies tasks such as container creation, management, and monitoring.
  • Cluster Support: LXD allows you to create clusters of LXD hosts, enabling high availability and load balancing. Clustered setups ensure that containers remain operational even if some hosts in the cluster experience issues.
  • Device Passthrough: LXD supports device passthrough, allowing containers to directly access and use specific hardware devices on the host system. This feature is useful for scenarios where specialized hardware needs to be utilized within containers.

Read more: Our Blog Post On docker restart policy

PROs and CONs of LXD

PROs of LXD:

Here’s a breakdown of LXD’s key advantages:

  • LXD boasts a robust Command Line Interface (CLI) that simplifies container management tasks.
  • LXD easily integrates with various cloud platforms such as Ansible, MAAS, Juju, Packer, Terraform, and Puppet Bolt, enhancing its flexibility and compatibility.
  • LXD offers high scalability while maintaining enhanced security measures, ensuring both flexibility and safety in usage.
  • LXD supports device pass-through for USB devices, Graphics Processors, Disks, NIC, and other hardware components, enabling versatile usage scenarios.
  • It provides excellent control over compute resources, allowing users to manage resources efficiently as per their requirements.
  • LXD enables the creation of snapshots for running containers, preserving specific states for backup and development purposes.
  • LXD offers robust GIT repositories, application instances, and authentication servers, enhancing its overall functionality.
  • With LXD, users can create virtualized Linux environments, facilitating the development of reproducible software builds with ease.
  • LXD simplifies deployment processes, allowing users to accomplish complex tasks with just a few command lines, ensuring efficient and straightforward deployment procedures.

CONs of LXD:

No tool comes without its challenges. Here are some drawbacks associated with LXD:

  • LXD can be complex for beginners, requiring a learning curve to fully grasp its functionalities.
  • It lacks a built-in application delivery framework, which might require users to explore additional solutions for streamlined application delivery.
  • Copying system containers from one machine to another can be challenging and not as straightforward as desired.
  • While comprehensive, LXD’s documentation can be improved for better user guidance and understanding.
  • Running LXD across different operating systems simultaneously can be challenging, potentially limiting its versatility in multi-platform environments.

LXD vs Docker: What is Docker?

To understand LXD vs Docker comparison, you must know all about Docker as well. Docker is a popular platform for developing, shipping and running applications inside containers. Containers are small, self-contained packages that have all the code and data necessary to launch a specific program. This includes the code, libraries, dependencies, and runtime environment. Docker utilizes containerization technology. This allows developers to build applications and package them along with their dependencies. Containerization ensures consistency across various environments.

Docker images are available for download from the Docker Hub repository. Additionally, Docker images can be used for application development on both desktop and cloud platforms. Docker, for instance, may be deployed on many different cloud platforms, including those from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and others. Furthermore, you can deploy the same program in many settings. Because of its superior application isolation, Docker is the greatest tool for building stateless and microservices applications.

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Key Features of Docker

Here are the key features of docker:

  • Containerization: Docker enables the creation and management of containers, which are lightweight, portable, and self-sufficient environments for running applications. Containers ensure consistent behavior across various environments, from development to production.
  • Image-Based: Docker uses images as the building blocks for containers. Images are snapshots of a filesystem and application configuration, allowing easy sharing and distribution. Docker Hub provides a vast repository of public and private images.
  • Platform Independence: Docker containers run on any platform that supports Docker, regardless of the underlying operating system. This ensures consistent behavior across different development, testing, and deployment environments.
  • Isolation: Containers operate in isolated environments, ensuring that applications and their dependencies do not interfere with each other. This isolation enhances security and prevents conflicts between applications running on the same host system.
  • Resource Efficiency: Docker containers share the host system’s kernel, which leads to efficient utilization of system resources. Multiple containers can run on a single host without a significant performance overhead.
  • Portability: Docker containers capture applications and dependencies, making them portable across different environments. Developers can build applications in containers and be confident that they will run consistently on any system with Docker installed.
  • Networking: Docker provides various networking options, allowing containers to communicate with each other and with external networks. Docker supports custom networks, allowing developers to create isolated communication channels between containers.
  • Orchestration: Docker Swarm and Kubernetes are popular orchestration tools that enable the management of multiple containers in a cluster. These tools automate deployment, scaling, load balancing, and recovery, making it easier to manage large-scale containerized applications.
  • Versioning and Rollback: Docker allows versioning of images and containers. Developers can roll back to previous versions of applications by reverting to specific image versions, providing a reliable way to manage changes and updates.
  • Docker Compose: Docker Compose simplifies multi-container application management. It allows developers to define complex applications and their dependencies in a single file, making it easy to spin up entire environments with a single command.
  • Security: Docker incorporates security features such as namespaces and control groups to ensure process and resource isolation. Additionally, Docker supports image scanning and content trust, enhancing the security of containerized applications.
  • Logging and Monitoring: Docker provides logging and monitoring capabilities, allowing developers and administrators to track container behavior, resource usage, and application performance. Integration with third-party monitoring tools further enhances observability.

PROs and CONs of Docker

PROs of Docker

Docker offers many advantages, comparable to LXD. Here’s a breakdown of its key benefits:

  • Docker provides exceptional portability, allowing seamless execution of containers across virtual machines, cloud platforms, and local machines.
  • Docker effortlessly integrates with popular development tools like CircleCI, VSCode, and GitHub, streamlining the development workflow.
  • Docker excels in packaging applications with all dependencies, enabling swift movement between different environments, ensuring consistency.
  • Creating and deploying images in Docker is straightforward and time-efficient, simplifying the application deployment process.
  • Docker enables easy management of multiple versions of containers and images, enhancing flexibility and control over application versions.
  • Docker empowers the seamless scaling of applications, ensuring they can handle high loads and demands effectively.
  • Docker provides robust security by isolating applications within containers, preventing interference from other applications and bolstering overall security.
  • Docker facilitates effortless management and sharing of images stored in the cloud, enhancing collaboration and distribution processes.
  • Docker allows quick configurations, accelerating the development and deployment of applications, leading to efficient workflows.
  • By isolating applications from their underlying infrastructure, Docker accelerates application delivery, enhancing overall speed and efficiency.

CONs of Docker

Alongside its advantages, Docker does have a few drawbacks. Here are some of them:

  • Docker lacks comprehensive support for enterprise-level applications, posing a challenge for complex, large-scale systems.
  • Docker faces challenges in its container networking capabilities, which may require additional attention for optimal performance.
  • Managing unused images in Docker can be challenging, necessitating improved image cleanup processes.
  • Docker Hub’s retention policy can be intricate and less developer-friendly, adding complexity to image management tasks.
  • Simplifying data storage and volume management could enhance Docker’s usability, particularly in scenarios involving substantial data handling.

LXD vs Docker: Similarities

The LXD vs Docker comparison must include their similarities. LXD and Docker share several common features that make them both compelling choices for containerization. Here are five key similarities between LXD and Docker:

  1. Lightweight Containers: Both LXD and Docker use lightweight containerization technology. They create isolated environments, enabling applications to run efficiently without the overhead of traditional virtual machines. This lightweight nature ensures rapid deployment and efficient use of system resources.
  1. Portability: LXD and Docker containers are portable. This allows them to run consistently across various environments and platforms. Applications captured within these containers, along with their dependencies, can be moved between different systems seamlessly. This portability simplifies the deployment process and ensures consistency across development, testing, and production environments.
  1. Resource Efficiency: Both LXD and Docker offer efficient resource utilization. Containers created by both technologies share the host system’s operating system kernel. It enables multiple containers to run on the same host without the need for separate operating system instances. This shared kernel approach optimizes resource usage, making them ideal for scenarios where resource efficiency is crucial.
  1. Isolation: LXD and Docker ensure strong isolation between applications. Each container operates independently. This prevents conflicts and ensures that applications do not interfere with one another. This isolation enhances security and stability, making them suitable for multi-tenant environments and complex application architectures.
  1. Networking Capabilities: Both LXD and Docker provide robust networking capabilities for containers. They offer features such as custom networks, allowing users to create isolated communication channels between containers. Additionally, both technologies support the configuration of network settings, enabling seamless communication between containers and with external networks.

LXD vs Docker: Differences

To understand the entire LXD vs Docker comparison, we also need to know their differences. Here are the key differences between LXD and Docker:

1. Container Type

LXD: LXD focuses on system containers, which capture entire Linux distributions. They resemble lightweight virtual machines and offer full operating system-level virtualization.

Docker: Docker specializes in application containers, which package the application and its dependencies but share the host system’s OS kernel. Docker containers are more focused on running single applications in isolated environments.

2. Use Case

LXD: LXD is well-suited for scenarios where you need to run multiple instances of full Linux distributions with different configurations. It’s ideal for tasks requiring complete OS isolation.

Docker: Docker is widely used for developing, shipping, and running individual applications. It’s perfect for microservices architectures and agile development workflows where applications need to be developed and deployed independently.

3. Interface

LXD: LXD provides both a command-line interface (CLI) and a graphical user interface (GUI) for managing containers. The GUI simplifies the process, making it more accessible to users who prefer visual tools.

Docker: Docker primarily uses a CLI, although there are third-party graphical interfaces available. Docker’s CLI is well-known for its simplicity and ease of use.

4. Networking Model

LXD: LXD offers advanced networking features, including support for VLANs, bridges, and fan networking. It provides rich networking capabilities for more complex setups.

Docker: Docker emphasizes simplicity in its networking model. It allows users to create custom networks and assigns containers to these networks. While it’s powerful, it’s generally considered easier to set up than LXD’s networking configurations.

5. Orchestration

LXD: LXD does not have built-in orchestration features. While you can manage multiple LXD hosts individually, it doesn’t offer native tools for automatic load balancing, scaling, and service discovery.

Docker: Docker provides Docker Swarm, an integrated orchestration tool, and can also be orchestrated using Kubernetes. These tools enable the management of large-scale container deployments, ensuring high availability and automated scaling.

6. Community and Ecosystem

LXD: LXD has a growing but smaller community compared to Docker. While it’s actively maintained, the ecosystem is not as extensive as Docker’s.

Docker: Docker has a vast and active community, making it easier to find resources, support, and third-party tools. Its extensive ecosystem includes various plugins and integrations, enhancing its versatility and usability.

Wrapping Up

This LXD vs Docker comparison covers all aspects of both. We have discussed what they are, their key features, Pros and Cons. We have also discussed LXD vs Docker similarities and LXD vs Docker differences. Both LXD and Docker have different use cases and you should choose what best suits your needs. If you still have some questions, feel free to contact our support team. Our 24×7 server support team will help you in clearing all doubts.


Q1. What is the difference between Docker and LXD?

Docker focuses on application containers, isolating single applications, while LXD specializes in system containers, encapsulating entire Linux distributions. Docker is widely used for microservices and individual applications, whereas LXD is ideal for running multiple isolated Linux environments on a single host. To know more about LXD vs Docker, read the full blog.

Q2. Does Docker use LXD?

Containers may be created with LXD, divided as you’d want, and then Docker can be used to get the actual service operating within.

Q3. What are the advantages of LXD?

We’ve discussed the advantages of LXD in the detailed LXD vs Docker guide above. They are comprehensive and detailed.

Q4. Why is LXD vs Docker comparison important?

LXD vs Docker comparison is important because it tells us all about them. LXD vs Docker tells us about their pros and cons, similarities and differences, etc.