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Rancher Desktop provides the ability to build, push, and pull images via the NERDCTL project.

Note, nerdctl is put into the path automatically. This occurs during the installer on Windows, and upon first run on macOS.


You can learn about all of the command options by running nerdctl -h. This will display the help documentation. The command requires Rancher Desktop to be running for it to work.

The initial set of images are stored in the same containerd that Kubernetes uses, and are part of the namespace. You can also switch to a namespace called default if you wish to build or pull images into a different namespace. Currently the only way to create other namespaces is to build or pull an image with the nerdctl CLI, using the --namespace <NAMESPACE_NAME> option.

Building Images

Building images has a similar feel to existing tools. For example, consider running nerdctl from a directory with a Dockerfile where the Dockerfile is using a scratch image.

❯ nerdctl build .
[+] Building 0.1s (4/4) FINISHED
=> [internal] load build definition from Dockerfile
=> => transferring dockerfile: 31B
=> [internal] load .dockerignore
=> => transferring context: 2B
=> [internal] load build context
=> => transferring context: 33B
=> CACHED [1/1] ADD anvil-app /

nerdctl has tags for tagging at the same time as building and other options you've come to expect.

If you want to tag an existing image you've built you can use the nerdctl tag command.