Running an Open Computing Lab Environment via the ContainDS Application

TO DO: ContainDS has moved on since this guidance was originally written. If the instructions are wrong / don’t work, please comment back tothis issue.

ContainDS is a cross-platform (MacOS, Windows) desktop application that simplifies the launching and management of Docker containers in general, and Docker containers that incorporate Jupyter notebook servers in particular.

Download and install the latest version of Docker. Follow the initial guidance in the document to install docker. (You do not need to follow the guidance re: using Docker; the ContainDS application provides another way of doing that.)

Download and install the latest version of the ContainDS application directly from the ContainDS website:

Alternatively, you may save the installer to your computer by right-clicking the appropriate link and choosing Save Link As… or Save Target As….

Locate the folder containing the downloaded installer: your browser may have a Downloads folder, or it may have saved the downloaded file to the My Documents or Desktop folder. Inside the download folder, find the downloaded installer file and double-click it to run it.

TO DO - could we get any security warnings?? If so, what, and how do we resolve them??

If you saved the installer earlier, you may now delete it since it is no longer required.

The ContainDS application is a desktop application. Run it as you would any other application:

  • Windows: launch the application TO DO: how??

  • MacOS: the application will be installed into your Applications folder. You can launch it from there, or add the application icon the Dock to make it easier to find and launch. See also: MacOS documentation - using the Dock.

Using ContainDS to Install the Prebuilt Open Computing Lab Container Image

Note that in this approach, you willnotbe able to synchronise files inside the container with a persistent directory on your desktop.

Open the ContainDS application, select the Docker tab and search for tm129. Select the tm129-robotics2020 image.

Screenshot of the ContainDS Docker image selection tab showing how to select the TM129 image.

If you have not previously downloaded the image, ContainDS will download it for you:

Screenshot showing the ContainDS Docker image download progress display indicating the percentage completion of one of the layers in the current download.

Do not be concerned if the download percentage indicator sometimes goes down as well as up — the downloader is actually downloading multiple items at once. (The container image is made up from several layers, each of which is downloaded separately, before they are combined in the final image.)

When everything had downloded, you may find your computer appears to be doing nothing for a minute or two, or even appears to get stuck just short of a 100% complete donwload. Don’t Panic! The downloaded layers are all compressed files, and it may take some time for your computer to unzip them all.

Once downloaded, you will be prompted for a method of starting the container. Select “Standard”:

Screenshot showing the ContainDS dialogue for how to start a Docker container, with three buttons displayed: force a Jupyter start command (“Force Jupyter”), let the container run from its own start command (“Standard”, shown as the option to select) or “Cancel”.

The container will now be launched and a log trace displayed.

At this point, you need to STOP the container and remove it:

Screenshot showing a ContainDS running container with the run log displayed and a dialogue raised by clicking the container close button offering tow buttons, one with the option to “Cancel”, the other with the option to “Remove”, which is to say, stop and remove, the running container.

Now create a running version of the container from the local Docker image. This will allow you to share a local directory into the container as well as clicking through directly to the notebook homep[age in your browser.

Using ContainDS To Run the Open Computing Lab Environment from a Local Docker Image

Click on the +NEW button and then select the Docker tab and then the Local Images tab:

Screenshot of ContainDS “Local Images” tab on ContainDS Docker tab page showing selection of TM129 image.

SELECT the local copy of the tm129-robotics2020 container which will open the container workspace configuration page:

Screenshot of ContainDS container workspace configuration page reached by selecting a local container image from “Local Images” tab on ContainDS Docker tab page.

Set the path to the directory on your host computer that you want to share into the container. This will create a notebooks directory in that directory that will be mapped onto the notebooks directory visible from the notebook homepage.

When you CREATE the container, it will run automatically. Clicking the WEB link should take you to the notebook home page in your browser. (Note that the file listing in the screenshot may differ from the file listing you see.)

Screenshot of Jupyter notebook homepage

When you save your notebooks, they will be saved into the shared directory on your own computer.

Using ContainDS to Build and Run a RoboLab Container from Scratch

As well as running the prebuilt RoboLab container, ContainDS can also build the container image, and then launch an image from it, from scratch. (The image only needs to be built once.)

Launch the ContainDS application, and then select the Binder tab.

Enter the name of the source repository:


and click the LAUNCH button.

Screenshot of ContainDS application showing the Binder build configuration screen and temporary build process containers in container sidebar.

As the image is built, you will see several temporary containers being created and destroed along the way. Note that the build process may take some time (up to 10 minutes or more).

Once the image has been built, a running container will be launched from it.

Click on the WEB link and you should be taken directly to the notebook homepage in your browser without needing to provide any notebook server token yourself.

Screenshot of ContainDS application showing location of WEB button to launch notebook in browser.

STOP and remove the container, and then run it from a Local Docker Image; this will allow you to share a local directory into the container and directly click through to the notebook server homepage in your browser.