Killercoda vs. Docker Compose: Showdown for Demo Environments

Albert Wong
3 min readFeb 16, 2024

Crafting captivating demos is an art form. You want to be informative, engaging, and efficient, all while avoiding technical headaches. When it comes to building demo environments, the two contenders vying for your attention are Killercoda and Docker Compose. But which one reigns supreme? Buckle up, as we dissect their strengths and weaknesses to help you choose your champion. At StarRocks, we’ve used both. When things were simple, we used killercoda. Now our demos include for storage, Apache Hive HMS and other components and we’ve moved to Docker Compose.

By the way, I’m Albert, and I’m Head of Community and Developer Relations at CelerData. CelerData is a $60 million VC-funded startup that is building StarRocks, an open-source replacement for Snowflake, Big Query, and RedShift.

Killercoda: The Interactive Playground

Killercoda offers a web-based platform where you can spin up pre-built scenarios with a click. Think of it as an online playground for exploring technologies like Kubernetes, Linux, and DevOps tools.


  • Ease of use: Click, launch, learn. No local setup required, making it ideal for beginners.
  • Pre-built demos: Extensive library of interactive tutorials covering various topics.
  • Collaboration: Share and edit scenarios with others, perfect for team demos.
  • Cloud-based: No local machine resources needed, accessible from anywhere.
  • Pricing: Free for people who want to learn (under a hour).


  • Limited customization: Pre-built scenarios offer less flexibility compared to building your own. I wanted to sponsor larger instance types for our software, and they said “no”.
  • Potential performance limitations: Cloud-based environment might not be optimal for resource-intensive demos.

Docker Compose: The DIY King

Docker Compose allows you to orchestrate multi-container applications by defining their services and configurations in a simple YAML file.


  • Full control: Highly customizable, letting you build demos tailored to your exact needs.
  • Offline usage: Run demos locally without relying on an internet connection.
  • Integration: Works seamlessly with Docker, making it ideal for existing container workflows.
  • Open-source: No vendor lock-in, free to use for any purpose.
  • Extensibility: Other people can build on top of your Docker Compose assets.


  • Learning curve: Requires understanding of Docker and YAML syntax.
  • Manual setup: More time-consuming compared to Killercoda’s pre-built options.
  • Limited sharing: Sharing demos might involve sharing configuration files and docker images.
  • Resource management: Requires local machine resources to run, potentially straining weaker systems.

Choosing Your Weapon

So, which tool should you choose? It depends on your priorities:

  • For absolute beginners or quick demos, Killercoda shines with its ease of use and pre-built scenarios.
  • For full control, customization, complex setups and offline demos, Docker Compose is your knight in shining armor.
  • For resource-constrained machines or tight budgets, Docker Compose’s open-source and local setup might be more sustainable.

Ultimately, the best tool is the one that empowers you to create impactful demos. Experiment with both and see which one ignites your demo-building passion!

Bonus Round: Consider combining both approaches! Use Killercoda to explore and learn, then use Docker Compose to build customized demos based on your acquired knowledge.

Let the demo wars commence!



Albert Wong

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