Getting Started with Docker on Raspberry Pi

Datetime:2016-08-23 04:25:00         Topic: Docker  Raspberry Pi          Share        Original >>
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I have put this guide together to help you get started with Docker on your Raspberry Pi. For simplicity we will use the default operating system for the Pi - called Raspbian. This guide currently works with the Model 2B and Model 3 Pi. Support for the Raspberry Pi Zero, and B+ is planned for Docker 1.12-1-rc2 onwards.

Raspberry Pi Zero Cluster

Preparing the SD card

Download the latest Raspbian Jessie Lite image from .

curl -O

Now if you are on Linux or Mac use the dd tool to write the image to an SD card. Use the lsblk so that you pick the correct disk.


$ sudo dd if=raspbian_latest of=/dev/sde bs=1m


Check which disk you need with: sudo diskutil list

$ sudo dd if=raspbian_latest of=/dev/rdisk2 BS=1m

For Windows use a tool such as Win32DiskImager.

Installing Docker

Once you boot up the Raspberry Pi you will be able to locate it on your network through the bonjour/avahi service.

Connect with SSH

$ ssh pi@raspberrypi.local

The password is raspberry .

For security reasons it is advisable to change the password of the user pi with the passwd command.

Optional customizations

At this point you may want to edit the hostname of the Pi. Use an editor and change the word raspberrypi to something else in:

  • /etc/hosts
  • /etc/hostname

If you are using the Pi for a headless application then you can reduce the memory split between the GPU and the rest of the system down to 16mb.

Edit /boot/config.txt and add this line:


Start the Docker installer

An automated script maintained by the Docker project will create a systemd service file and copy the relevant Docker binaries into /usr/bin/ .

$ curl -sSL | sh

Until recently installing Docker on a Pi was a very manual process, but work by Dieter Reuter has helped simplify the effort.

Configure Docker

There are a couple of manual steps needed to get the best experience.

Set Docker to auto-start

$ systemctl enable docker

You can now reboot the Pi, or start the Docker daemon with:

$ systemctl start docker

Enable Docker client

The Docker client can only be used by root or members of the docker group. Add pi or your equivalent user to the docker group:

$ sudo usermod -aG docker pi

After making this change, log out and reconnect with ssh .

Using Docker

Support for ARM and the Raspberry Pi is a work-in-progress item which means there are a few things you should know.

Pulling images from the Hub

If you pull down the busybox image from the Docker hub it will not function correctly. This is because the contents are designed for a regular PC or the x86_64 architecture. There are on-going efforts to fix this in future versions of Docker.

We should only attempt to use images which we know are designed to work on ARM. At present there are no strictly official images but the Docker team maintains a number of experimental images under the prefix

Armagh .

An image made by is used by the current Docker build process to create a base image which is usable on all supported versions of the Raspberry Pi. It is a light-weight version of Raspbian Jessie which makes it a good choice.

Running your first ARM image

$ docker run -ti resin/rpi-raspbian:jessie /bin/bash

root@0c68918c47d3:/# cat /etc/issue  
Raspbian GNU/Linux 8 \n \l

root@0c68918c47d3:/# exit

Try the image and type exit when you are finished.

Building a new image

Build your image like a regular Docker image but use resin/rpi-raspbian as your base. Let's add curl and ca-certificates and create an image which will access

FROM resin/rpi-raspbian  
RUN apt-get update && \  
    apt-get -qy install curl ca-certificates
CMD ["curl", ""]

Create a Node.js application

This Dockerfile uses's Raspbian image as a base and pulls down Node 4.5 LTS from the official Node.js site.

FROM resin/rpi-raspbian  
RUN apt-get update && \  
    apt-get -qy install curl \
                build-essential python \
WORKDIR /root/  
RUN curl -O \
RUN tar -xvf node-*.tar.gz -C /usr/local \  

CMD ["node"]

To build and run the image:

$ docker build -t node:arm .
$ docker run -ti node:arm

$ process.version

Making use of GPIO

In order to make use of additional hardware and add-on boards you will need to access the GPIO pins. These require an additional flag at runtime of --privileged

The standard RPi.GPIO library will work through Docker including the libraries from several hardware manufactures.

This is a sample Dockerfile for using the defacto RPi.GPIO library.

FROM resin/rpi-raspbian

RUN apt-get -q update && \  
    apt-get -qy install \
        python python-pip \
        python-dev python-pip gcc make  
RUN pip install rpi.gpio

Build this image as a basis for adding your GPIO scripts at a later date.

$ docker build -t gpio-base .

To consume the script use it like this:

FROM gpio-base:latest  
ADD ./ ./

CMD ["python", ""]

You will need to run this container in privileged mode in order to be able to access the GPIO pins.

$ docker build -t gpio-sample .
$ docker run -ti --privileged gpio-sample


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