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Matthias Lischka

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Hello docker-for-windows world

tldnr: setting up docker-for-windows for the first time. mssql server. This is mere a personal braindump. Easy. Probably will use docker in future to replace local mssql server and for some other things.


Activate the Containers and Hyper-V Windows features.

Docker Windwos Features

I use choclatey to install all my windows programs. Therefore, installation of docker is like:

cinst docker -y
cinst docker-for-windows -y

Switch from linux to windows containers when using windows containers ;) e.g. MSSQL.

Switch to windows containers


Decide which image you need and download it. This will take time - depending on the size of the image. Fortunately, this has to be done only once.

docker pull microsoft/mssql-server-windows-developer


docker run -d -p 1433:1433 -e sa_password=<SA PASSWORD> -e ACCEPT_EULA=Y --name sql microsoft/mssql-server-windows-developer

! The <SA PASSWORD> has to match the mssql server password policy. Otherwise, the setup will fail and you have no idea why.

[edit 20.10.2017] ! Those settings will be stored as environment variables on the container. On every startup of the container a script (c:\start.ps1) will be executed that resets the sa password to this initial password. The initial password, stored as environment variable, can be promted with SET sa_password. When no password is passed in the docker run command the environment varibale is initialized to “_”, the sa user will be disabled and the sa password will not be resetted at startup.

Enable sa user and set password - via sqlcmd (docker exec -it sql sqlcmd):

1> USE [master]
2> GO
2> GO
2> GO


Connect to localhost.

Since we mapped the container mssql server default port to the host system mssql server default port (-p 1433:1433) we can access the container via localhost.

Example connections string:

"Data Source=.;Initial Catalog=MyAppDb;User Id=sa;Password=<SA PASSWORD>;MultipleActiveResultSets=true;"

If needed you can get the container IP with this command:

docker inspect --format '{{.NetworkSettings.Networks.nat.IPAddress}}' sql

Now you can just connect to the mssql server using management studio, visual studio code, …

Useful commands

start the sql container: docker start sql
stop the sql container: docker stop sql
list running containers: docker ps
list all containers: docker ps -a
open a cmd.exe on the container: docker exec -it sql cmd
open sqlcmd on the container: docker exec -it sql sqlcmd


Cool first impression. Will use it much more in the future and challenge it against the real world of software development.