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Docker vs NGINX Unit: What are the differences?

  1. Architecture: The key difference between Docker and NGINX Unit lies in their architecture. Docker follows a client-server architecture where a Docker client interacts with a Docker daemon running on the host machine. On the other hand, NGINX Unit is designed as a single binary with minimal dependencies, acting as both the runtime and web server, eliminating the need for a separate daemon or server.
  2. Containerization: Docker primarily focuses on containerization, allowing users to package applications along with their dependencies into isolated containers. These containers can then be deployed and run on any system that supports Docker. Conversely, NGINX Unit is more flexible as it supports both containerized and non-containerized applications, allowing developers to deploy different types of workloads with ease.
  3. Configuration: Docker uses a declarative approach to configure containers, where users define configuration files called Dockerfiles to build images and containerize applications. NGINX Unit, however, provides a dynamic and declarative configuration model, allowing developers to customize the runtime behavior and manage applications using a flexible JSON-based API, enabling real-time updates without restarting the server.
  4. Supported Languages: Docker supports a wide range of programming languages and frameworks, allowing developers to build and run applications in different environments. NGINX Unit, on the other hand, has native support for multiple languages and runtimes, including PHP, Python, Go, and Ruby, making it easier to deploy and manage applications written in these languages without additional configuration.
  5. Event-Driven Model: NGINX Unit employs an event-driven model, which enables it to handle a large number of concurrent connections efficiently. This makes it suitable for applications that require high performance and scalability, such as real-time communication or streaming applications. Docker, however, does not provide the same level of fine-grained control over event handling, as it focuses more on isolating and managing containers rather than optimizing for high-performance workloads.
  6. Community and Ecosystem: Docker has a vast and active community, along with a rich ecosystem of pre-built container images and tools, making it easier for developers to find support and resources for their projects. NGINX Unit, being a newer technology, has a smaller community and ecosystem but is continuously growing, supported by NGINX, a well-established web server and load balancer.

In summary, Docker and NGINX Unit differ in their architecture, containerization approach, configuration models, supported languages, event-driven capabilities, and community/ecosystem size.

Decisions about Docker and NGINX Unit
Florian Sager
IT DevOp at Agitos GmbH · | 3 upvotes · 428.4K views

lxd/lxc and Docker aren't congruent so this comparison needs a more detailed look; but in short I can say: the lxd-integrated administration of storage including zfs with its snapshot capabilities as well as the system container (multi-process) approach of lxc vs. the limited single-process container approach of Docker is the main reason I chose lxd over Docker.

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Pros of Docker
Pros of NGINX Unit
  • 823
    Rapid integration and build up
  • 691
  • 521
    Open source
  • 505
    Testa­bil­i­ty and re­pro­ducibil­i­ty
  • 460
  • 218
  • 185
  • 106
    Upgrading / down­grad­ing / ap­pli­ca­tion versions
  • 88
  • 85
    Private paas environments
  • 34
  • 26
    Limit resource usage
  • 17
    Game changer
  • 16
    I love the way docker has changed virtualization
  • 14
  • 12
  • 8
    Docker's Compose tools
  • 6
    Easy setup
  • 6
    Fast and Portable
  • 5
    Because its fun
  • 4
    Makes shipping to production very simple
  • 3
    Highly useful
  • 3
    It's dope
  • 2
    Very easy to setup integrate and build
  • 2
    HIgh Throughput
  • 2
    Package the environment with the application
  • 2
    Does a nice job hogging memory
  • 2
    Open source and highly configurable
  • 2
    Simplicity, isolation, resource effective
  • 2
    MacOS support FAKE
  • 2
    Its cool
  • 2
    Docker hub for the FTW
  • 2
  • 0
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 1
  • 1

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Cons of Docker
Cons of NGINX Unit
  • 8
    New versions == broken features
  • 6
    Unreliable networking
  • 6
    Documentation not always in sync
  • 4
    Moves quickly
  • 3
    Not Secure
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    What is Docker?

    The Docker Platform is the industry-leading container platform for continuous, high-velocity innovation, enabling organizations to seamlessly build and share any application — from legacy to what comes next — and securely run them anywhere

    What is NGINX Unit?

    NGINX Unit is a dynamic web application server, designed to run applications in multiple languages. Unit is lightweight, polyglot, and dynamically configured via API. The design of the server allows reconfiguration of specific application parameters as needed by the engineering or operations.

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    Blog Posts

    Jul 9 2019 at 7:22PM

    Blue Medora

    DockerPostgreSQLNew Relic+8
    DockerAmazon EC2Scala+8
    What are some alternatives to Docker and NGINX Unit?
    LXC is a userspace interface for the Linux kernel containment features. Through a powerful API and simple tools, it lets Linux users easily create and manage system or application containers.
    Rocket is a cli for running App Containers. The goal of rocket is to be composable, secure, and fast.
    Kubernetes is an open source orchestration system for Docker containers. It handles scheduling onto nodes in a compute cluster and actively manages workloads to ensure that their state matches the users declared intentions.
    Cloud Foundry
    Cloud Foundry is an open platform as a service (PaaS) that provides a choice of clouds, developer frameworks, and application services. Cloud Foundry makes it faster and easier to build, test, deploy, and scale applications.
    Vagrant provides the framework and configuration format to create and manage complete portable development environments. These development environments can live on your computer or in the cloud, and are portable between Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
    See all alternatives