Troubleshooting Guide: Cannot Connect to the Docker Daemon

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Have you encountered the following error while using Docker?

Error: "Cannot Connect to Docker Daemon"

The “Cannot connect to the Docker daemon” error is a common issue that can be a tad bit frustrating to many Docker users. The error in particular is not as complex as it seems, however even the best developer can get stuck occasionally. This article will help you troubleshoot this issue. 

What is Docker?

Before we troubleshoot the error we have to understand what Docker is. Docker is a powerful open source platform designed to streamline the development and deployment of applications through the use of containerization. Containers are lightweight, standalone executable packages that contain everything needed to run an application, including the code, runtime, system tools, system libraries, and dependencies.

Why Should You Use Docker

  • Portability: Docker containers can run consistently across different environments, such as development, testing, and production systems, ensuring the same behavior regardless of the underlying infrastructure.
  • Isolation: Docker ensures each container runs in an isolated domain, with its own file system, CPU, memory, and network resources. This guarantees that applications running in different containers have no conflict with each other.
  • Lightweight: Since containers are more lightweight and efficient than traditional virtual machines (VMs).  Docker reduces overhead and enables faster startup times as the containers share the host operating system kernel. 
  • Scalability: Docker containers can be easily scaled up or down, allowing applications to dynamically respond to changes in resource demands.
  • Continuous Deployment and Delivery: Docker containers make it easier to consistently deploy and update applications across different environments, facilitating continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) workflows.
  • Microservices Architecture: Docker containers are well-suited for building and deploying microservices-based applications, where each service runs in its own container, promoting modularity and scalability.
  • Reproducibility: Docker containers package all dependencies and configurations, ensuring that applications can be consistently reproduced in different environments.
  • Version Control and Sharing: Docker images (the read-only templates used to create containers) can be easily shared, versioned, and distributed through public or private registries, facilitating collaboration and reproducibility.

Why Does the Error Occur?

If you get this error message, it is a clear indication that there is an underlying issue with the Docker daemon service. 

What is the Docker Daemon? 

At the heart of the Docker ecosystem lies the Docker daemon. This is a crucial background service that organizes and runs all the Docker containers running on your system. 

To conceptualize this, imagine the Docker daemon as the conductor of a well-rehearsed symphony, seamlessly orchestrating the creation, execution, and monitoring of containers based on the commands you issue through the Docker client. Without this critical service, your entire Docker experience would grind to a halt.

Understanding the Error

Before rushing to fix the error. It is important to analyze and understand the error message itself. The message “Cannot connect to the Docker daemon” suggests that there was an issue establishing communication with the Docker daemon. The Docker daemon is a crucial service that is tasked with managing Docker objects such as containers, images, networks, and volumes. The error also highlights the Unix socket path (/var/run/docker.sock), which happens to be the default location for Docker daemon communication on Unix-based systems.

What are the Common Causes of the Error:

The error can be caused by a number of factors. Some of the common reasons for the “Cannot connect to daemon” error include: 

  • Docker Daemon Not Running: One of the main causes of this error usually is that the Docker daemon is not running or has stopped unexpectedly.
  • Insufficient Permissions: In some cases, the user attempting to interact with Docker may not have the necessary permissions to access the Docker daemon socket.
  • Docker Daemon Configuration Issues: Misconfigurations in the Docker daemon settings or conflicting configurations with other services can lead to connectivity issues resulting in this error.
  • Resource Constraints: If the system is low on resources such as memory or disk space, it may impact the Docker daemon’s ability to function properly.
  • Networking Issues: Issues with network connectivity or firewall settings can hinder communication between the Docker client and daemon service.

Youtube Link: Docker Daemon is not running | How to start docker daemon in windows | Docker run hello-world 

How to fix the error

Once you have a better understanding of the error and its potential causes, you can  explore the step-by-step process to resolve this issue. 

  1. Check Docker Daemon Status

Use the command to check the status of the Docker daemon:

sudo systemctl status docker

(for systemd-based systems) or 

sudo service docker status

(for systems using SysVinit).

If the Docker daemon is not running, start it by running  this command: 

sudo systemctl start docker


sudo service docker start
  1. Verify Docker Socket Permissions:

Ensure that the user executing Docker commands has sufficient permissions to access the Docker daemon socket.

You can add the user to the “docker” group using the command sudo usermod -aG docker <username> and then log out and log back in for the changes to take effect.

Review Docker Daemon Configuration:

Check the Docker daemon configuration file (typically located at:  /etc/docker/daemon.json) for any misconfigurations or conflicting settings.

Pay attention to parameters such as “hosts,” “tls,” and “log-level” that may impact daemon connectivity.

  1. Monitor System Resources:

Use system monitoring tools like ‘top’, ‘htop’, or free to check the system’s resource utilization, including CPU, memory, and disk space.

Ensure that the system has sufficient resources available for Docker daemon operation.

  1. Troubleshoot Networking:

Check network connectivity between the Docker client and daemon using tools like ping or telnet to ensure there are no network issues.

Verify that Docker daemon ports (e.g., 2375 for unencrypted communication, 2376 for encrypted communication) are not blocked by firewalls.

  1. Restart Docker Service:

Sometimes, restarting the Docker service can resolve transient issues or conflicts.

Use this command to restart docker: 

sudo systemtcl restart docker


sudo service docker restart

Youtube Link: How to fix Docker Daemon Not Running Issue in Windows ? (2023) 

The “Cannot connect to the Docker daemon” error can delay your Docker workflow and reduce your productivity. However, if you are equipped with sufficient knowledge and the troubleshooting steps outlined in this guide, you can quickly diagnose and fix the issue. Whether it’s restarting the Docker daemon, adjusting permissions, or troubleshooting networking, following these steps systematically will help you get Docker up and running smoothly again. 

Please note that it is beneficial to document your troubleshooting process for future reference, and don’t hesitate to seek additional assistance from online communities or Docker support channels if needed. 

External Links: 

Daemon Troubleshoot 

What is Docker Daemon 

Internal Links: