Cameron Boehmer bio photo

Cameron Boehmer

In every moment, a choice; in every choice, a step. I like to take walks.

Cooking with Docker and CoreOS on OS X

This posts assumes some familiarity with Docker—it’s a practical guide to a workflow on OS X.

The Problem

Docker is hot. It represents a significant addition to the second derivative of the state of our art. And while there are plenty of tutorials on using Docker floating around, none of them left me with all of the functionality I needed, or a clear picture of how to do real work. I have been frustrated, tickled, and tantalized. Docker, you were a real tease—until today.

The Solution

When you’re finished, you should have a native docker client, container ports that are easily accessible via localhost, and the ability to edit files on live containers from the comfort of your own $EDITOR.

The Recipe

Preheat the oven: install Vagrant and VirtualBox. Then download docker:

curl -o docker
chmod +x docker
# look for the docker daemon on tcp instead of unix
# (good idea to put this in .bashrc or similar)
export DOCKER_HOST=tcp://
sudo cp docker /usr/local/bin/

The Docker Daemon: in CoreOS via Vagrant

git clone
cd coreos-vagrant
$EDITOR Vagrantfile

We’ll edit the Vagrantfile to setup an NFS share (for editing container files) and port forwarding (for visiting our beautiful applications via localhost):

  # make sure these lines are present and not commented
  # and replace /Users/cam/src with your own "private_network", ip: ""
  config.vm.synced_folder "/Users/cam/src", "/home/core/share", id: "core", :nfs => true,  :mount_options => ['nolock,vers=3,udp']

  # you'll need to add these lines
  (49000..49900).each do |port| :forwarded_port, :host => port, :guest => port

Install the latest docker in the VM

At time of writing, this is necessary because the docker client is native to OS X only as of 0.8, and CoreOS is still running 0.7.5, which is not on speaking terms with its younger sibling.

vagrant up
vagrant ssh
# you should land in /home/core, and
# see /home/core/share pointing to your host share

# install docker
wget --no-check-certificate -O docker
chmod +x docker

Add a service for the downloaded docker:

vi /media/state/units/docker-local.service
# copy the block below into the file above
Description=docker local

ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/systemctl kill docker.service
ExecStart=/home/core/docker -H -H unix:///var/run/docker.sock -d


Kill the 0.7.5 docker daemon and start 0.8:

sudo systemctl restart local-enable.service

If you make subsequent modifications to the new service file, you’ll need to restart it with a different incantation:

sudo systemctl restart docker-local.service

Something smells delicious…

# from your os x terminal
> docker version
Client version: 0.8.0
Go version (client): go1.2
Git commit (client): cc3a8c8
Server version: 0.8.0
Git commit (server): cc3a8c8
Go version (server): go1.2

Docker is served

Garnish your docker run commands with a spring of -v, and your containers will share files with your local file system via the vm.

# on the osx host, in /Users/cam/src/hey-ma
docker build -t camron/hey-ma .

# run the container with a volume that links it to the vm's shared
# folder, which is synced with a folder on the host machine
docker run -v /home/core/share/hey-ma:/hey-ma camron/hey-ma /bin/bash
cd hey-ma; python
# hack hack hack in /Users/cam/src/hey-ma
# Ctrl-C
# new code!


There is one hiccough, which is that I get an error running a container with a volume if the volume directory already exists in the container, which it is wont to do if you’re maintaining a Dockerfile (which you should) and using the ADD . /dir build strategy (which is good). This is, however, the approach explicitly proscribed and used by @jpetazzo, so I bet I’m doing something wrong, or there is a bug that will get fixed soon. (In the meantime, however, I haven’t found it problematic to mount the volume elsewhere.)

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