09 November 2013 / Last updated: 25 Mar 2019

Docker on Raspberry Pi

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Deprecated: We've since released balena.io as a full service allowing you to easily run and update docker containers on multiple architectures. See https://balena.io/ for more details.
At balena.io, our goal is to simplify development for the Internet of Things. One challenge we’ve faced is deploying applications to devices. It’s okay when you have just one or two devices, but once a deployment scales larger, this becomes a major issue.
In July we discovered Docker, a tool that vastly simplifies the deployment of applications across variety of environments. However Docker didn’t yet support or run on the Raspberry Pi.
We wanted to change that.
Ken Cochrane had made some progress on this. As of the 21st of October, we decided to allocate our full resources to completing the task. By the 2nd of November, we reported back to the community that we were almost there.
Today, November 10th, we’ve made a break-through: Docker is fully running on the Raspberry Pi.

Installing Docker on the Raspberry Pi

We originally performed these steps on Arch Linux x86_64 Linux 3.10.3 with an 8GB SD card. Over the next week, we'll be verifying and updating these instructions to support running them on a Mac.


export RPIDIR=$HOME/rpi
mkdir -p $RPIDIR && cd $RPIDIR

Download needed files

wget https://downloads.raspberrypi.org/arch/images/archlinux-hf-2013-07-22/archlinux-hf-2013-07-22.img.zip
unzip archlinux-hf-2013-07-22.img.zip
curl https://codeload.github.com/raspberrypi/linux/tar.gz/rpi-3.11.y | tar xz
curl https://codeload.github.com/raspberrypi/tools/tar.gz/master | tar xz
cd $RPIDIR/linux-rpi-3.11.y
git clone git://git.code.sf.net/p/aufs/aufs3-standalone

Install Arch Linux on SD card

  1. Insert an SD card into your system
sudo dd if=$RPIDIR/archlinux-hf-2013-07-22.img of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=4m
  1. Eject the SD card

SSH Into the Raspberry Pi

Put the SD card in the Raspberry Pi, boot it and connect over SSH (root/root)

Resize the Root Partition

Follow this guide to resizing the Root Partition whilst the Raspberry Pi is running.

Update the install:

pacman -Syu # (answer yes to everything)
pacman -S linux-raspberrypi-latest # (answer yes to everything)

Create a swap file

dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=1M count=1024
chmod 600 /swapfile
mkswap /swapfile
echo /swapfile none swap defaults 0 0 >> /etc/fstab

Install a new kernel on the RPi.

Run the following on the host system
  1. Setup environment
  2. export RPIDIR=$HOME/rpi
  3. mkdir -p $RPIDIR/root/boot
  4. mkdir -p $RPIDIR/root/usr
  5. export INSTALL_MOD_PATH=$RPIDIR/root/usr
  6. export KERNEL_SRC=$RPIDIR/linux-rpi-3.11.y
  7. export CCPREFIX=$RPIDIR/tools-master/arm-bcm2708/arm-bcm2708-linux-gnueabi/bin/arm-bcm2708-linux-gnueabi-
  9. export ARCH=arm
  10. Patch kernel with AUFS
  11. cd $KERNEL_SRC/aufs3-standalone
  12. git checkout aufs3.11
  13. cp -rp *.patch ../
  14. cp -rp fs ../
  15. cp -rp Documentation/ ../
  16. cp -rp include/ ../
  17. cd $KERNEL_SRC
  18. patch -p1 < aufs3-kbuild.patch (ignore the error)
  19. patch -p1 < aufs3-base.patch
  20. patch -p1 < aufs3-mmap.patch
  21. patch -p1 < aufs3-loopback.patch
  22. patch -p1 < aufs3-standalone.patch
  23. Configure the kernel
  24. make mrproper
  25. ssh root@ cat /proc/config.gz | gunzip > .config (replace the IP with the IP of your Pi)
  26. make oldconfig
    1. Choose yes for Aufs
    2. Press enter for all other options
  27. make menuconfig
    Choose the following options to be built-in (i.e with an asterisk):
  • Device Drivers → Character Devices → Support multiple instances of devpts
  • Device Drivers → Network Device Support → Virtual ethernet pair device
  • Device Drivers → Multiple devices driver support (RAID and LVM) → Thin provisioning target
Press escape multiple times until prompted to save the config and choose YES
  1. Build the kernel
  2. make (Optionally pass -j $(nproc) to speed it up)
  3. make modules_install
  4. make headers_install INSTALL_HDR_PATH=$INSTALL_MOD_PATH
  5. cd $RPIDIR/tools-master/mkimage
  6. ./imagetool-uncompressed.py ${KERNEL_SRC}/arch/arm/boot/zImage
  7. cp kernel.img $RPIDIR/root/boot/.
  8. Transfer to the RPi
  9. tar cz -C $RPIDIR/root . | ssh root@ tar xz -C / (Replace the IP with the IP of your Pi, ignore the error of ownership change)
  10. ssh root@ reboot (Replace the IP with the IP of your Pi)

Installing dependencies:

Connect to the RPi over SSH(root/root) and run:
  1. pacman -S screen (answer Yes to all)
  2. screen bash — Start a screen session in case we disconnect
  3. pacman -S gcc lxc make patch git mercurial sqlite sudo yaourt
  4. yaourt -S debootstrap
  5. Install gnupg1
  6. yaourt -S gnupg1
  7. Edit PKGBUILD when prompted and replace arch=('i686' 'x86_64') with arch=('any')
  8. export PATH=/usr/local/go/bin:/root/go/bin:$PATH
  9. export GOPATH=/root/go:/root/go/src/github.com/dotcloud/docker/vendor
  10. curl https://go.googlecode.com/files/go1.2rc2.src.tar.gz | tar xz -C /usr/local
  11. cd /usr/local/go/src
  12. ./make.bash
  13. cd $HOME
  14. curl https://codeload.github.com/morfoh/aufs-util/tar.gz/aufs3.x-rcN | tar xz
  15. cd $HOME/aufs-util-aufs3.x-rcN
  16. sed -i 's/7/0/' ver.c
  17. make && make install

Install docker

  1. mkdir -p /root/go/src/github.com/dotcloud/docker
  2. cd /root/go/src/github.com/dotcloud/docker
  3. git clone https://github.com/dotcloud/docker.git .
  4. git checkout v0.6.4
  5. curl https://gist.github.com/petrosagg/7260553/raw/docker-arm-v0.6.4.patch | git apply -
  6. export VERSION=$(cat ./VERSION)
  7. export GITCOMMIT=$(git rev-parse --short HEAD)
  8. export LDFLAGS="-X main.GITCOMMIT $GITCOMMIT -X main.VERSION $VERSION -w -linkmode external -extldflags '-static -Wl,--unresolved-symbols=ignore-in-shared-libs'"
  9. go build -v -o /root/go/bin/docker -ldflags "$LDFLAGS" ./docker

Make the base image

  1. sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_forward=1
  2. docker -d &
  3. cd contrib
  4. curl -s https://archive.raspbian.org/raspbian.public.key | gpg --import
  5. ./mkimage-debian.sh raspbian wheezy https://archive.raspbian.org/raspbian

Build docker 0.6.6 using docker 0.6.4

  1. cd /root/go/src/github.com/dotcloud/docker
  2. git reset --hard
  3. curl https://gist.github.com/petrosagg/7260553/raw/docker-arm-v0.6.6.patch | git apply -
  4. docker build -t docker .
  5. docker run -privileged -v `pwd`:/go/src/github.com/dotcloud/docker docker hack/make.sh binary
Hopefully the above instructions worked, and you should now be able to use Docker on your Raspberry Pi!



  • Replaced step 2.11. patch -p1 < aufs3-proc_map.patch with patch -p1 < aufs3-loopback.patch
  • Changed instructions for resizing the partition sizes. Now done on the Raspberry Pi instead via GParted.
  • Ensure screen is install before we try to use it in Installing dependencies.

You can follow the discussion on Hackernews, or follow us on Twitter at @balena_io, to keep track of our progress or to ask us questions, or email us. Why not signup for an invite to our platform?
Chat to the team in our community chat.
by Alexandros MarinosFounder/CEO, balena

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