Building, sharing, and running advanced apps are all made possible by a tool, Docker. All the software are packed into a unit called a container, which has the runtime, code, libraries, and tools required for the software to run. However, you might face the “Docker Desktop Starting Forever” error due to system requirements issues, problems with the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), and corrupt app installation files.
The screen will be stuck on the following message:
- Docker usually takes about 10 to 15 seconds to boot up. There could be something wrong if it takes more than 2 minutes.
- The reasons behind the Docker Engine starting error are corrupted installation files, issues with WSL, or the system configuration isn’t correct.
- You can fix the issue by performing a clean boot, enabling virtualization, switching to Windows containers, and re-enabling the WSL.
Clean Boot Your Computer
While working on the issue, I found that a Clean Boot effectively eliminates the docker desktop stuck in the starting loop issue. In the Clean Boot mode, the system starts up with a minimal number of drivers and applications required for its functioning. Therefore, any conflicting apps causing the issue will be halted.
Enabling Virtualization allows you to use a broader range of apps on your Windows PC. To enable Virtualization, access your BIOS by pressing the manufacturer-specified Access key, which can be found on their website. Learn the method to check what motherboard you have and how to get into its BIOS with our specified guides. Once in the BIOS, the method to enable Virtualization depends on whether your CPU is from Intel or AMD.
Enabling Virtualization In BIOS for Intel CPUs
Here’s how to enable Virtualization for Intel CPUs:
- Select Advanced Mode or hit F7 > Advanced > CPU Configuration.
- Opt for Intel Virtualization Technology > Choose Enabled > Exit > Save changes & reset.
Enabling Virtualization In BIOS for AMD CPU
Here’s how to enable Virtualization for AMD CPUs:
- Select Advanced Mode or hit F7.
- Enter Advanced tab > CPU Configuration.
- Select SVM Mode > Select Enabled > Exit > OK.
During our research on the topic, we found that users on Reddit were also able to fix the Docker error using this method.
Uninstalling and then reinstalling the Docker again is another method that can eliminate the Docker desktop trouble. This is because sometimes, the files can get corrupted, and the only way to fix them is by reinstalling the software.
Here’s how to operate:
- Access the Run > Enter appwiz.cpl > OK.
- Look for Docker > Right-click on it > Uninstall
- Head to Docker’s website > Download it > Run the installer.
Switch To Windows Containers
During installation, the Docker engine sometimes ignores the OS and goes automatically for Linux containers. In this case, the glitch arises, which you can quickly fix by switching the containers from Linus to Windows.
Here’s how to switch:
- Go to the bottom-right of the Taskbar > Expand the System icon > Right-click on the Docker app.
- Select to switch to Windows Containers > Switch > Relaunch it.
Re-enable The Windows Subsystem For Linux (WSL) Feature
Windows Subsystem for Linux or WSL enables your system to run the Linux environment on the Windows systems. By re-enabling this feature, I fixed the persisting Docker startup issue.
Here’s how to re-enable:
- Access Run > Type Optional Features > Enter.
- Look for Windows Subsystem for Linux > Uncheck the box against it > OK.
- Close the dialog box > Repeat the above steps > Mark the box against Windows Subsystem for Linux.
During my research, it came to my attention that multiple users were facing this error, as can be seen on Reddit and the official Docker forum. The issue can seem frustrating, but the methods I mentioned above shouldn’t take long to fix it. I was personally able to fix the Docker stuck on starting issue in a few minutes, so you can expect to spend the same amount of time. But if you’re unable to fix the issue, it would be better to get in touch with the support team at Docker.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Docker app often launches in less than ten seconds. Still, several variables, including the speed of your system and the active applications in the background, can be a reason for an extended time.
Some main culprits are the Windows Subsystem having issues, system requirements not being compatible, and app installation files getting corrupted.
First, clean boot your PC and try to enable virtualization, re-enable WSL, reinstall Docker, or switch to a Windows container.
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[How To Guides Specialist]
Dayan Shahid is a skilled mechanical engineer passionate about technology. With certifications in various programming languages and subjects ranging from microcontrollers to aerial robotics, Dayan can effortlessly present complex technical topics in an engaging way. His ability to bridge the gap between theory and practical applications sets him apart as he continues to inspire others through their insightful content.