An Introduction to Podman Desktop: The GUI for Podman Container Engines

Hailey Mai
KBE blog post 020 - An Introduction to Podman Desktop: The GUI for Podman Container Engines

Podman Desktop provides a graphical interface for Podman, a container engine designed to be a drop-in replacement for Docker. Podman Desktop makes it easy to build, deploy and manage containers and container-based applications on desktop systems. KBE Insider had the opportunity to feature Podman Desktop in Episode 21 with Urvashi Mohnani, Langdon White, and Josh Wood. In this blog post, we’ll explore and summarize the key features of Podman Desktop and how it enhances the container experience.


Accessible Containers for All

Podman Desktop expands the reach of containers by providing an intuitive graphical interface. This makes containers and Podman more accessible to non-Linux and non-CLI users. The visual interface helps new users understand containers and how to work with them. For example, Podman Desktop was introduced to teach students about containers. While the command line interface initially confused students, the graphical interface of Podman Desktop allowed them to grasp concepts more easily and retain more information. They could click buttons to see the results of their actions visually, helping build understanding.

For users unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the command line, Podman Desktop provides an approachable on-ramp to using containers. The graphical interface lowers the barrier to entry, allowing more users to benefit from containers and Podman.


Integrated Kubernetes Support

Podman Desktop provides built-in support for deploying workloads to Kubernetes. It can generate Kubernetes YAML files from Podman workloads, allowing you to migrate workloads between the two platforms. Podman Desktop also allows you to connect to and deploy to existing Kubernetes clusters.

You can spin up a local Kind (Kubernetes in Docker) or MicroShift (OpenShift in containers) cluster directly within Podman Desktop. This makes it easy to test workloads locally before deploying to production clusters. You can make changes, re-deploy, and experiment without worrying about impacting a production environment.


Support for Docker Compose

Podman recently added support for running Docker Compose files. Podman Desktop allows you to run Compose files locally, then generate the necessary Kubernetes YAML to deploy the application to Kubernetes. This provides a familiar starting point for developers used to Docker, which can then be adapted as needed to suit a Kubernetes-based environment.

The Docker/Podman integration is still ongoing, but the addition of Docker Compose support in Podman is a big step forward. We can likely expect to see more updates focused on bridging these two container platforms.


Bug Fixes and Runtime Improvements

Podman and Podman Desktop are actively developed open source projects. Ongoing improvements are being made to fix bugs, improve stability and security, and enhance runtime features. Podman 4.6 is releasing soon, with an RC1 expected in late July 2022. While tightly coupled, Podman and Podman Desktop release on independent schedules. New versions of Podman will be picked up by Podman Desktop to leverage any new features or fixes. But Podman Desktop also has its own stream of updates and feature additions.

Over the next 6 months, Podman will likely focus on optimizing to run on edge devices and in automotive environments. This includes improving performance, memory usage, and resource utilization for these use cases. Additional use case specific features may also emerge.



Podman Desktop provides a graphical interface to enhance the Podman container engine experience. It expands the reach of containers and makes them more accessible to new and non-technical users. Built-in support for Kubernetes, including generating YAML and connecting to clusters, provides a path for testing locally and deploying to production environments. 

Support for Docker Compose in Podman helps bridge the gap for Docker users. And active development of Podman and Podman Desktop means ongoing improvements and new features. Over the next months, we can expect a focus on edge and automotive use cases, as well as tighter integration with Kubernetes. 

Get involved with the Podman and Podman Desktop communities and projects on GitHub to learn more and contribute! The Podman and Podman Desktop communities can be found on IRC, Matrix, Discord, Kubernetes Slack, and the newly revamped Podman website.

Full video at: KBE Insider


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