Install Podman in Windows using PowerShell

Publish Date: September 20, 2022

Install Podman in Windows using PowerShell

Docker for windows has been around for years and most IT admins are already familiar with it. Not along ago, Red Hat launched their own containerization tool named Podman which works just like Docker. In fact it is best Docker alternative for Windows. If you’re new to Docker or Podman, I would highly recommend you to checkout this detailed post before you get started with it.

In this article, you will learn how to get started with Podman in Windows 10 or Windows 11. Please note that Podman requires WSL2 installed in Windows. If it is not installed already, Podman installation will do it for you. Now let’s get started.

Important Note

If you’re trying to run Podman in a Hyper-V virtual machine (VM), run the following command on Hyper-V host to enable nested virtualization support:

Set-VMProcessor -VMName <VM-Name> -ExposeVirtualizationExtensions $True
Enable nested virtualization in a VM on Hyper-V host using PowerShell
Enable nested virtualization in a VM on Hyper-V host using PowerShell

Make sure you supply the right VM name and also make sure that the VM is powered-off while you run this command.

Install Podman using PowerShell and Winget

To install Podman in Windows 10 or Windows 11, launch an elevated PowerShell console and run the following command:

winget install -e --id RedHat.Podman --accept-source-agreements --accept-package-agreements
Installing Podman using PowerShell and Winget in Windows
Installing Podman using PowerShell and Winget in Windows

This command will install Podman without requiring any user interaction as you can see in the screenshot. If winget command doesn’t work, please read this post to fix it.

Initialize Podman Machine

Once the Podman installation finishes, close the existing PowerShell console, launch a new one and type the following command to initialize the Podman machine in WSL environment:

podman machine init

If WSL is not already installed, this command will prompt you to install it and reboot your computer to complete the WSL setup as shown in the screenshots below.

Running 'podman machine init' command to automatically install WSL and create first machine
Running ‘podman machine init’ command to automatically install WSL and create first machine
To continue the process of enabling WSL, the system needs to reboot
To continue the process of enabling WSL, the system needs to reboot

After the reboot, please wait a few minutes for installation to resume automatically. You will see a screen like this:

Automatic WSL installation and Kernel update after reboot
Automatic WSL installation and Kernel update after reboot

If you see any error at this stage, see the troubleshooting section.

Start Podman Machine

After machine initialization, you are ready to start the Podman machine. To do that, run the following command:

podman machine start
podman machine start
podman machine start

By default, Podman machine will start in rootless mode. This is good from security perspective but if your containers require a root permission, you might want to run the following command before running podman machine start:

podman machine set --rootful

This command causes the Podman machine to run in root mode. At this point, you could use wsl -l -v command to see a podman WSL container running on your computer.

Viewing default podman machine WSL container
Viewing default podman machine WSL container

Using Podman

Now you have the Podman up and running, you could use the commands similar to Docker to pull an image from Docker or Quay registries and launch a Podman container. The following command runs an httpd container:

podman run --rm -d -p 8080:80 --name httpd_container docker.io/library/httpd
Run httpd podman container
Run httpd podman container

You can now use podman ps command as opposed to docker ps command in Docker to see the running podman containers.

podman ps
podman ps

You can see that Podman container is now running on your Windows system. If you want, use curl to verify if port forwarding is working properly between podman container and your host system. To do that, run the following command:

curl http://localhost:8080/ -UseBasicParsing
Verify podman port forwarding
Verify podman port forwarding

That’s it. The 200 status code means success! The port 80 of Podman container is now mapped with port 8080 on your host system. If you want to map it with a well-known port (any port lower than 1024) on your host system, you need to start the Podman container in rootful mode using podman machine set --rootful command.

Finally, to stop the Podman container named httpd_container, use podman stop httpd_container command. Make sure you supply the right name for container after stop command.

Troubleshooting

While Podman machine initilization, you might see Error: the WSL import of guest OS failed: exit status 4294967295

Error: the WSL import of guest OS failed: exit status 4294967295
Error: the WSL import of guest OS failed: exit status 4294967295

Or you might see Error: package permissions restore of shadow-utils on guest OS failed: exit status 4294967295

Error: package permissions restore of shadow-utils on guest OS failed: exit status 4294967295
Error: package permissions restore of shadow-utils on guest OS failed: exit status 4294967295

To fix both these errors, run the following commands in the same order in an elevated PowerShell console:

wsl --set-default-version 2
wsl --unregister podman-machine-default
wsl --shutdown
podman machine init

See the following screenshot for a reference:

Fixing the WSL import of guest OS failed error
Fixing the WSL import of guest OS failed error

You can see, after running aforementioned commands, the podman machine init command completed successfully in the end. If error still persists, you could try the netsh winsock reset command.



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