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Running ODK with Podman

Some employers, in particular outside academia, may discourage the use of Docker via Docker Desktop for licensing reasons. Podman is an open source container, pod, and container image management engine. While there are some fundamental differences between Podman and Docker, a basic user can treat them as largely equivalent, for example by creating an alias from Podman's native podman command to Docker's docker.

Aliases work well for running docker commands directly but it create some issues around automatic processes in ODK since a locally set alias is not visible from ODK's script. As a result, a command like

sh make prepare_release -B

may give you the error message

./ line 68: docker: command not found

Please remember to update your ODK image from time to time:

To fix this, instead create a symlink between docker and the Podman executable. To do this, run

which podman

to find where podman is installed, then navigate to the Podman executable

cd /path/to/podman/bin

Now create the symlink using (requires admin privileges)

sudo ln -s podman docker

After this, running ls -la in the same directory should include a line like

docker -> podman

and which docker should return


Finally, ensure that the symlink is somewhere on your path (if it isn't already!) by running

export PATH=$PATH:/path/to/podman/bin

Restart your shell and you should find that your ODK script works again as expected.


The commands above were tested in zsh shell on a Mac. They should also work in an bash shell, on Mac or Linux. They may not work on Windows.

You could also edit the ODK script to use podman instead of docker, which would work with the previously mentioned alias solution but this is NOT ADVISABLE as the change would be overwritten every time the repo is updated. Plus, if your is committed into your Git repo, the change would affect all your fellow ontology editors.