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Given stupid hacks, like "Run echo or some other noop if you need to" to go from an image to a container, and 'docker commit' to go back from a container to an image, the distinction between a docker image and docker container seems a bit academic and a bit of poor UX rather than anything else.

Not really, containers are disposable and images (at least tags) are somewhat less disposable. Containers are singular, malleable units and represent a processes' running state, images are atomic and composable, inert, basically packages.

You wouldn't say that the difference between a live database and its binaries compiled source code is academic, would you?

I agree that it would make more sense if you could dump the image to a flat file with a single verb. I also think docker needs an interface to stop a pull in progress that has stalled or is no longer needed. These are academic concerns, you can submit a pull request.

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