Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Hosting Docker images on GitHub

Hosting our own Docker images on GitHub is simpler than you think. On this post, let's review how.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

We recently reviewed how to host our NuGet packages on GitHub. Turns out that another popular feature of GitHub Packages is hosting Docker images. Given that GitHub is the world's largest development website and you're probably already hosting your code up there, why not also review how to build, host and consume our own ASP.NET Core Docker images on it?

On this post we will:


To run this project on your machine, please make sure you have installed:

If you want to develop/extend/modify it, then I'd suggest you to also have:

About GitHub Packages

GitHub Packages is GitHub's free offering for those wanting to host their own packages or Docker images in GitHub itself. The benefits of using GitHub Packages is that it's free, you can share your images privately or with the rest of the world, integrate with the GitHub API, GitHub Actions, webhooks and even create complex end-to-end DevOps workflows.

Building our Docker Image

So let's quickly build our Docker image. For this demo, I'll use my own aspnet-docker project. If you want to follow along, open a terminal and clone the project with:
git clone https://github.com/hd9/aspnet-docker

Building our local image

Next, cd into that folder and build a local Docker image with:
docker build . -t webapp:0.0.1
Now confirm your image was successfully built with:
docker images
You should see something along the lines of:
webapp      0.0.1               73a91c1204db        21 seconds ago      212MB
For more information on how to setup and run the application, check the project's README file.

Testing our local image

Before pushing our image to GitHub, let's make sure it runs fine with:
docker run --rm -d -p 8080:80 webapp:0.0.1
Test it at http://localhost:8080/. Here's what you should see:

Pushing packages to GitHub

With the image ready and working, let's review how to push your own Docker images to GitHub.

Generating an API Key

In order to authenticate to GitHub Packages the first thing we'll need is an access token. Open your GitHub account, go to Settings -> Developer Settings -> Personal access tokens, click Generate new Token, give it a name, select write:packages and save: 
Now copy the API key provided, we'll use it in the next step.

Logging in with Docker

To push our images to GitHub, first we log in with:
docker login https://docker.pkg.github.com -u <github-username> -p <api-key>
Or, you could echo your api key from a file with:
cat api-key.txt | docker login https://docker.pkg.github.com -u <github-username> --password-stdin
Or even better, using an env var with:
echo $<envvar-name> | docker login https://docker.pkg.github.com -u <github-username> --password-stdin

Tagging our image

With the login successful, we now need to tag the image and push. Let's tag it first with:
docker tag <img-name> docker.pkg.github.com/<gh-user>/<repo>/<img-name>:<version>
Confirm you get both images with docker image ls:
docker image ls
Here's what you should see:
REPOSITORY                                       TAG       IMAGE ID       CREATED             SIZE
webapp                                           0.0.1     73a91c1204db   30 minutes ago      212MB
docker.pkg.github.com/hd9/aspnet-docker/webapp   0.0.1     73a91c1204db   30 minutes ago      212MB

Pushing the image to GitHub

Finally, push it to the remote repo with:
docker push docker.pkg.github.com/<gh-user>/<repo>/<img-name>:<version>
Here's what I got during my tests:

Reviewing our image on GitHub

Let's confirm our image was successfully pushed to GitHub. Open your project's page and click on Packages. Our webapp package looks like this:

Using our image

To consume our image we'll have to (1) login with docker, (2) pull the image and (3) run it. As previously mentioned, I'll run it from a different box. This time on an Alpine Linux VM I love playing with.
To learn how to install and run Docker on Alpine, check this link.
Let's once more login on GitHub with Docker with:
docker login https://docker.pkg.github.com -u <github-username> -p <api-key>

Pulling the image the image

After the login, pulling our image is as simple as:
docker pull docker.pkg.github.com/<gh-user>/<repo>/<img-name>:<version>
For context, here's my pull in action:
After the pull confirm with docker image ls:

Run the image

And finally run our image with:
docker run --rm -d -p 8080:80 webapp:0.0.1
If you want, confirm your image is running with:
docker ps

Accessing the container

Lastly, let's confirm we can access it from our host. On Alpine, enter ip a show eth0 to show the VM's internal IP:
And finally, access it from the host (your machine) with your browser. On my case,

Final Thoughts

On this post we reviewed how to build our own Docker images, pushed them to GitHub and finally demoed how to consume them on a different machine. Creating and hosting our own Docker images on GitHub is valuable as you can share your images privately, with the rest of the world, integrate with GitHub APIs, GitHub Actions, webhooks, creating complex end-to-end DevOps workflows and even deploy them to a Kubernetes cluster. We'll evaluate that in the future so keep tuned!

Source Code

As always, the source code is available on GitHub.

See Also

About the Author

Bruno Hildenbrand