Running Tutor with Podman

You have the option of running Tutor with Podman, instead of the native Docker tools. This has some practical advantages: it does not require a running Docker daemon, and it enables you to run and build Docker images without depending on any system component running root. As such, it is particularly useful for building Tutor images from CI pipelines.

The podman CLI aims to be fully compatible with the docker CLI and podman-compose is meant to be a fully-compatible alias of docker-compose. This means that you should be able to use it together with Tutor, without making any changes to Tutor itself.


Since this was written, it was discovered that there are major compatibility issues between podman-compose and docker-compose. Thus, podman cannot be considered a drop-in replacement of Docker in the context of Tutor – at least for running Open edX locally.


You should not attempt to run Tutor with Podman on a system that already has native docker installed. If you want to switch to podman using the aliases described here, you should uninstall (or at least stop) the native Docker daemon first.

Enabling Podman

Podman is supported on a variety of development platforms, see the installation instructions for details.

Once you have installed Podman and its dependencies on the platform of your choice, you’ll need to make sure that its podman binary, usually installed as /usr/bin/podman, is aliased to docker, and is included as such in your system $PATH. On some CentOS and Fedora releases, you can install a package named podman-docker to do this for you, but on other platforms, you’ll need to take of this yourself.

  • If $HOME/bin is in your $PATH, you can create a symbolic link there:

    ln -s $(which podman) $HOME/bin/docker
  • If you want to instead make docker a system-wide alias for podman, you can create your symlink in /usr/local/bin, an action that normally requires root privileges:

    sudo ln -s $(which podman) /usr/local/bin/docker

Enabling podman-compose

podman-compose is available as a package from PyPI, and can thus be installed with pip. See its README for installation instructions. Note that if you have installed Tutor in its virtualenv, you’ll need to run pip install podman-compose in that same virtualenv.

Once installed, you’ll again need to create a symbolic link that aliases docker-compose to podman-compose.

  • If you run Tutor and podman-compose in a virtualenv, create the symlink in that virtualenv’s bin directory: activate the virtualenv, then run:

    ln -s $(which podman-compose) $(dirname $(which podman-compose))/docker-compose
  • If you do not, create the symlink in /usr/local/bin, using root privileges:

    sudo ln -s $(which podman-compose) /usr/local/bin/docker-compose

Verifying your environment

Once you have configured your symbolic links as described, you should be able to run docker version and docker-compose --help and their output should agree, respectively, with podman version and podman-compose --help.

After that, you should be able to use tutor local, tutor build, and other commands as if you had installed the native Docker tools.