March 16, 2015 by Tomasz Malisiewicz

Kitematic, is a new cool open-source software project which brings a great looking GUI to Mac OS X users wanting to explore applications that are shipped as Docker containers. Kitematic was recently acquired by Docker, giving them much credibility, and I was immediately excited as I’m always looking for new ways to deliver our computer vision and artificial intelligence applications to a larger, less techy, audience. Believe me, maintaining and shipping multi-platform builds is not nearly as much fun as training object detectors. :-) I’ll be really excited once they have a Kitematic port to Windows.

Kitematic vs. boot2docker

Before Kitematic, Mac users had to use boot2docker (or install a Linux Virtual Machine) to enjoy the benefits of Docker. This works for those Mac users who are savvy on the command line, as boot2docker gives you all of Docker’s features like building your own images. If you’re using Docker in your normal development workflow on Linux machines in the cloud (like us), then boot2docker for Mac is still highly recommended. If you haven’t yet jumped on the Docker bandwagon, you really are missing out.

Kitematic provides an exceptional installation experience – I’m pretty sure anybody on a Mac, even my grandma, can follow these instructions. It assumes that the authors have already published their images on Docker Hub (which is true for many great applications, including our very own software).

Want to install our software via Kitematic?

Step 1: Download and install Kitematic

Download the Kitematic installer and wait a few minutes as it installs all of the Docker requirements behind the scenes.

Step 2: Find the visionai-kitematic image

As of today you can also find VMX in Kitematic when you search for visionai/vmx-kitematic.

Step 3: Hit “create” and go grab a coffee

Hitting create will download the VMX image (about 1.8GB) from Docker Hub and it will automatically start when finished. You should now see the VMX GUI inside the Kitematic preview window. Clicking the preview window will open up VMX inside a browser with a randomly assigned port. One last step and you’re on your way to Computer Vision nirvana.

Step 4: Active your copy of VMX

You can purchase an individual developer license for VMX $100 at our store, but if you want to try the Kitematic installer we have a limited number of coupons for 10% off. Just enter the code KITEMATIC when checking out using Stripe.

If you’ve already obtained an activation key from us (either as an invite or by purchasing) but want to an extra activation key to try out the Kitematic installer, just let us know and we’ll send you one.

We created a special single-container version of VMX which is suitable for Kitematic, but still encourage all users comfortable with Docker to use our vmx-docker-manager which allows you to update and backup the data inside VMX. The vmx-docker-manager runs our full multi-container application and makes updating much faster.

We are still providing our VMX Computer Vision server as a native Mac OS X installer VMX.pkg, but I look forward to the time where a single build can be shipped out to Windows, Mac OS X, Linux machines, and datacenters.

The future of Docker containers

I see a future when more applications, especially scientific ones, are shipped as Docker Containers. Docker makes development, deployment, and (as we can now see) distribution much easier and allows developers to get the same high-quality build that the authors are using. Just imagine an ecosystem where bleeding edge research software is pushed out as Docker containers into everyone’s hands.

The next time you consider shipping shipping an application which requires Apache config files, a custom version of Python, maybe even a Matlab, just ask yourself: why not Docker?