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Container engines and ArcGIS Notebook Server (Linux containers)

Docker container allocation software is used by ArcGIS Notebook Server.

Docker software

ArcGIS Notebook Server uses Docker container allocation software to provide security and isolate resources for notebook authors. Containers are virtualized operating systems, as opposed to virtual machines; each container on a machine includes all OS components in an isolated environment. ArcGIS Notebook Server provides a separate container for each user in the site. Each user owns one container per runtime, and users can only run notebooks in their own container.

Docker is a separate, third-party software component that must be installed on each ArcGIS Notebook Server machine before using ArcGIS Notebook Server.

Docker container images

When you receive the software downloads and authorization files from My Esri before installation, you also receive two Docker container images specific to ArcGIS Notebooks. These container images provide the necessary runtime—a specific collection of Python modules—for notebook users.

Esri provides two Docker container images: Standard and Advanced. These two container images include system tools and libraries, as well as various settings to configure the container appropriately. They also include a notebook runtime: the Standard container image includes the Standard notebook runtime, and the Advanced container image includes the Advanced runtime.

The Standard runtime enables ArcGIS Notebooks to use code from ArcGIS API for Python and third-party modules. The Advanced runtime contains all the modules of the Standard image and also includes ArcPy and related libraries.

If you have an Advanced license, you should download and install both container images from My Esri. The Python modules contained in the Standard and Advanced images are listed in View available Python libraries.

To author notebooks using the Advanced runtime, a user must be assigned a role in the portal that includes the Advanced Notebooks privilege. The first time they open a notebook, a container will be launched for them, with the Advanced container image applied to it.

Notebook authors with the Advanced Notebooks privilege can also specify a notebook to use the Standard runtime. This allows them to share notebooks they've created with users who only have access to the Standard runtime. The first time they do so, a second container will be launched for them, loaded with the Standard container image.

Learn more about notebook user privileges

By default, a container is allocated a certain amount of RAM and a certain number of CPU core shares. These default resource limits are determined by the runtime being run by the container, as follows:

  • The Standard runtime allots 1 CPU core and 4 GB of RAM per container.
  • The Advanced runtime allots 2 CPU cores and 6 GB of RAM per container.

As an ArcGIS Notebook Server administrator, monitor the number of notebook authors working in your site and which runtime each is using. Depending on these factors, you may need or want to change the resource limits set for ArcGIS Notebook Server.

Docker editions

For Windows users, Docker Desktop is the appropriate edition. This software allows you to run ArcGIS Notebook Server.

Ensure that you install the minimum required version of Docker Desktop on each ArcGIS Notebook Server machine. For more information on installing and configuring Docker, see Install Docker for ArcGIS Notebook Server.


ArcGIS Notebook Server will only work with one of the editions of Docker installed on a machine. You cannot mix editions on a multimachine site.

Notebook runtimes and container images

When a container is first launched, it's mostly empty. The system libraries, tools, and configurations the container needs to function are provided through a container image file. The container image is applied to the container as part of the launch process.


If you've deployed cloud software, you're probably familiar with machine images, which provide blank virtual machines with the code, tools, and settings they need to function. Container images function the same way for the blank virtual OS of the container.

Esri provides two container images for ArcGIS Notebook Server. Included in each container image is a notebook runtime, which makes Python resources available in ArcGIS Notebooks. Each runtime packages a list of these libraries and dependencies, including a specific version of each Python library.

The two ArcGIS Notebook Server runtimes—Standard (which includes ArcGIS API for Python and other Python modules) and Advanced (which also includes ArcPy)—are available in notebooks as part of their corresponding container image.

View the libraries available in each runtime

Depending on your license, you will receive either the Standard container image or both the Standard and Advanced container images.

On Windows machines, the containers in an ArcGIS Notebook Server site with Linux containers are managed within a Linux emulator called MobyLinuxVM, which is contained within the Hyper-V environment. Accordingly, the Hyper-V role must be installed on the machine. This requirement is included in the ArcGIS Notebook Server system requirements.

Windows architecture for ArcGIS Notebook Server

When a container is launched, one of the two container images you received from Esri is applied to the container. The runtime and image applied depend on the notebook author's privileges in the portal:

  • Authors who have only been granted the Create and Edit Notebooks privilege will have their container loaded with the Standard container image. All notebooks they open will use the Standard runtime.
  • Authors who have also been granted the Advanced Notebooks privilege will have their container loaded with the Advanced container image. The default notebook runtime for their notebooks is the Advanced runtime. However, they have the option to specify an individual notebook's runtime and can use either the Standard or the Advanced runtime in their notebooks.

Learn more about notebook user privileges

Prerequisites and constraints for Windows systems

If you deploy ArcGIS Notebook Server on Windows machines, there are a number of prerequisites and constraints to consider. These do not apply when deploying ArcGIS Notebook Server on Linux machines.

Docker Desktop prerequisites

The following are required before using Docker Desktop:

  • It's recommended that you use Windows Server 2019 machines in a production environment of ArcGIS Notebook Server. Windows 10 machines are only supported for development environments.
  • If you deploy ArcGIS Notebook Server on Windows Server 2019, you can use Docker Desktop. See the Docker editions section for the minimum required version. Note that the Docker documentation for the current version does not mention Windows Server 2019 in its system requirements.
  • ArcGIS Notebook Server uses Linux containers in its Docker component. On Windows Server 2019 machines, the containers in an ArcGIS Notebook Server site are managed within a Linux emulator named MobyLinuxVM, which is contained within the Hyper-V environment.
  • ArcGIS Notebook Server requires the Hyper-V role to already be installed on Windows Server and Windows 10.
  • Certain virtualization environments do not allowHyper-V to be enabled and operated in Windows. As a result, ArcGIS Notebook Server cannot be installed and operated in such environments.
  • The Docker Desktop service will stop running when the user installing Docker signs out of the ArcGIS Notebook Server machine where Docker is installed. This ArcGIS Notebook Server machine can be locked, but the user must be signed in for Docker to run successfully. If the user is not signed in, opening notebooks will fail with the message Unable to load notebook error.

    There are alternative solutions for having Docker Desktop run automatically upon restarting the ArcGIS Notebook Server machine, instead of having the user sign in.

  • ArcGIS Notebook Server supports multiple-machine sites. In Windows systems, Docker does not support mounting shared drives on containers, so the workspace directory must remain local on each machine. Because users can launch containers and open notebooks on each machine in a multiple-machine site, it's necessary that the content in the workspace directory be synchronized across machines. The steps to configure one method of replication are described in Configure DFS replication for ArcGIS Notebook Server.