Quickstart: Run the SQL Server 2017 container image with Docker

THIS TOPIC APPLIES TO: yesSQL Server (Linux only)noAzure SQL DatabasenoAzure SQL Data WarehousenoParallel Data Warehouse

In this quickstart, you use Docker to pull and run the SQL Server 2017 container image, mssql-server-linux. Then connect with sqlcmd to create your first database and run queries.

This image consists of SQL Server running on Linux based on Ubuntu 16.04. It can be used with the Docker Engine 1.8+ on Linux or on Docker for Mac/Windows.


This quick start specifically focuses on using the mssql-server-linux image. The Windows image is not covered, but you can learn more about it on the mssql-server-windows-developer Docker Hub page.


Pull and run the container image

  1. Pull the SQL Server 2017 Linux container image from Docker Hub.

    sudo docker pull microsoft/mssql-server-linux:2017-latest
    docker pull microsoft/mssql-server-linux:2017-latest

    The previous command pulls the latest SQL Server 2017 container image. If you want to pull a specific image, you add a colon and the tag name (for example, microsoft/mssql-server-linux:2017-GA). To see all available images, see the mssql-server-linux Docker hub page.

    For the bash commands in this article, sudo is used. On MacOS, sudo might not be required. On Linux, if you do not want to use sudo to run Docker, you can configure a docker group and add users to that group. For more information, see Post-installation steps for Linux.

  2. To run the container image with Docker, you can use the following command from a bash shell (Linux/macOS) or elevated PowerShell command prompt.

    sudo docker run -e 'ACCEPT_EULA=Y' -e 'SA_PASSWORD=<YourStrong!Passw0rd>' \
       -p 1433:1433 --name sql1 \
       -d microsoft/mssql-server-linux:2017-latest
    docker run -e "ACCEPT_EULA=Y" -e "SA_PASSWORD=<YourStrong!Passw0rd>" `
       -p 1433:1433 --name sql1 `
       -d microsoft/mssql-server-linux:2017-latest


    The password should follow the SQL Server default password policy, otherwise the container can not setup SQL server and will stop working. By default, the password must be at least 8 characters long and contain characters from three of the following four sets: Uppercase letters, Lowercase letters, Base 10 digits, and Symbols. You can examine the error log by executing the docker logs command.


    By default, this creates a container with the Developer edition of SQL Server 2017. The process for running production editions in containers is slightly different. For more information, see Run production container images.

    The following table provides a description of the parameters in the previous docker run example:

    Parameter Description
    -e 'ACCEPT_EULA=Y' Set the ACCEPT_EULA variable to any value to confirm your acceptance of the End-User Licensing Agreement. Required setting for the SQL Server image.
    -e 'SA_PASSWORD=<YourStrong!Passw0rd>' Specify your own strong password that is at least 8 characters and meets the SQL Server password requirements. Required setting for the SQL Server image.
    -p 1433:1433 Map a TCP port on the host environment (first value) with a TCP port in the container (second value). In this example, SQL Server is listening on TCP 1433 in the container and this is exposed to the port, 1433, on the host.
    --name sql1 Specify a custom name for the container rather than a randomly generated one. If you run more than one container, you cannot reuse this same name.
    microsoft/mssql-server-linux:2017-latest The SQL Server 2017 Linux container image.
  3. To view your Docker containers, use the docker ps command.

    sudo docker ps -a
    docker ps -a

    You should see output similar to the following screenshot:

    Docker ps command output

  4. If the STATUS column shows a status of Up, then SQL Server is running in the container and listening on the port specified in the PORTS column. If the STATUS column for your SQL Server container shows Exited, see the Troubleshooting section of the configuration guide.

The -h (host name) parameter is also useful, but it is not used in this tutorial for simplicity. This changes the internal name of the container to a custom value. This is the name you'll see returned in the following Transact-SQL query:


Setting -h and --name to the same value is a good way to easily identify the target container.

Change the SA password

The SA account is a system administrator on the SQL Server instance that gets created during setup. After creating your SQL Server container, the MSSQL_SA_PASSWORD environment variable you specified is discoverable by running echo $MSSQL_SA_PASSWORD in the container. For security purposes, change your SA password.

  1. Choose a strong password to use for the SA user.

  2. Use docker exec to run sqlcmd to change the password using Transact-SQL. Replace <YourStrong!Passw0rd> and <YourNewStrong!Passw0rd> with your own password values.

    sudo docker exec -it sql1 /opt/mssql-tools/bin/sqlcmd \
       -S localhost -U SA -P '<YourStrong!Passw0rd>' \
       -Q 'ALTER LOGIN SA WITH PASSWORD="<YourNewStrong!Passw0rd>"'
    docker exec -it sql1 /opt/mssql-tools/bin/sqlcmd `
       -S localhost -U SA -P "<YourStrong!Passw0rd>" `
       -Q "ALTER LOGIN SA WITH PASSWORD='<YourNewStrong!Passw0rd>'"

Connect to SQL Server

The following steps use the SQL Server command-line tool, sqlcmd, inside the container to connect to SQL Server.

  1. Use the docker exec -it command to start an interactive bash shell inside your running container. In the following example sql1 is name specified by the --name parameter when you created the container.

    sudo docker exec -it sql1 "bash"
    docker exec -it sql1 "bash"
  2. Once inside the container, connect locally with sqlcmd. Sqlcmd is not in the path by default, so you have to specify the full path.

    /opt/mssql-tools/bin/sqlcmd -S localhost -U SA -P '<YourNewStrong!Passw0rd>'


    You can omit the password on the command-line to be prompted to enter it.

  3. If successful, you should get to a sqlcmd command prompt: 1>.

Create and query data

The following sections walk you through using sqlcmd and Transact-SQL to create a new database, add data, and run a simple query.

Create a new database

The following steps create a new database named TestDB.

  1. From the sqlcmd command prompt, paste the following Transact-SQL command to create a test database:

  2. On the next line, write a query to return the name of all of the databases on your server:

    SELECT Name from sys.Databases
  3. The previous two commands were not executed immediately. You must type GO on a new line to execute the previous commands:


Insert data

Next create a new table, Inventory, and insert two new rows.

  1. From the sqlcmd command prompt, switch context to the new TestDB database:

    USE TestDB
  2. Create new table named Inventory:

    CREATE TABLE Inventory (id INT, name NVARCHAR(50), quantity INT)
  3. Insert data into the new table:

    INSERT INTO Inventory VALUES (1, 'banana', 150); INSERT INTO Inventory VALUES (2, 'orange', 154);
  4. Type GO to execute the previous commands:


Select data

Now, run a query to return data from the Inventory table.

  1. From the sqlcmd command prompt, enter a query that returns rows from the Inventory table where the quantity is greater than 152:

    SELECT * FROM Inventory WHERE quantity > 152;
  2. Execute the command:


Exit the sqlcmd command prompt

  1. To end your sqlcmd session, type QUIT:

  2. To exit the interactive command-prompt in your container, type exit. Your container continues to run after you exit the interactive bash shell.

Connect from outside the container

You can also connect to the SQL Server instance on your Docker machine from any external Linux, Windows, or macOS tool that supports SQL connections.

The following steps use sqlcmd outside of your container to connect to SQL Server running in the container. These steps assume that you already have the SQL Server command-line tools installed outside of your container. The same principals apply when using other tools, but the process of connecting is unique to each tool.

  1. Find the IP address for the machine that hosts your container. On Linux, use ifconfig or ip addr. On Windows, use ipconfig.

  2. Run sqlcmd specifying the IP address and the port mapped to port 1433 in your container. In this example, that is the same port, 1433, on the host machine. If you specified a different mapped port on the host machine, you would use it here.

    sqlcmd -S,1433 -U SA -P '<YourNewStrong!Passw0rd>'
    sqlcmd -S,1433 -U SA -P "<YourNewStrong!Passw0rd>"
  3. Run Transact-SQL commands. When finished, type QUIT.

Other common tools to connect to SQL Server include:

Remove your container

If you want to remove the SQL Server container used in this tutorial, run the following commands:

sudo docker stop sql1
sudo docker rm sql1
docker stop sql1
docker rm sql1


Stopping and removing a container permanently deletes any SQL Server data in the container. If you need to preserve your data, create and copy a backup file out of the container or use a container data persistence technique.

Docker demo

After you have tried using the SQL Server container image for Docker, you might want to know how Docker is used to improve development and testing. The following video shows how Docker can be used in a continuous integration and deployment scenario.

Next steps

For a tutorial on how to restore database backup files into a container, see Restore a SQL Server database in a Linux Docker container. To explore other scenarios, such as running multiple containers, data persistence, and troubleshooting, see Configure SQL Server 2017 container images on Docker.

Also, check out the mssql-docker GitHub repository for resources, feedback, and known issues.