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How-To Rootless Pipelines

The pipelines utility runs the pipelines with Docker. Rootless [ROOTLESS] mode was introduced in Docker Engine 19.03.

If the local user has Docker running in rootless mode, it is possible to run pipelines rootless. This protects the system the user operates the pipelines utility on.

This How-To describes how to install docker rootless on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (standard procedure) and how to run the pipelines utility with it.

Installing Docker Rootless

  1. If Docker is installed as daemon (standard), stop it:

    # systemctl stop docker

    This should be the only command that needs to be executed as root.

  2. Read the installation instructions by reading the source code of the docker rootless installer:

    $ curl -fsSL -o
    $ less
  3. Install docker rootless following the scripted instructions:

    $ sh

    The script should run through so that there should be no manual intervention necessary. At the very end the script displays the DOCKER_HOST environment parameter with it's value and how to export it to the environment like this:

    $ export DOCKER_HOST=unix:///run/user/1000/docker.sock

    It also shows which commands to run to start Docker rootless:

    systemctl --user (start|stop|restart) docker
  4. Prepare the environment to run pipelines with Docker rootless:

    1. If the DOCKER_HOST environment parameter is not set, export it to the environment first:
    $ export DOCKER_HOST="unix://${XDG_RUNTIME_DIR}/docker.sock"

    This environment parameter is necessary so that the Docker client knows how to connect to the Docker rootless daemon.

    1. Start the Docker rootless daemon if not yet started:
    $ systemctl --user start docker

    Use status instead of start to see if and how the daemon is running.

    Use stop to stop it again.

  5. Test pipelines to run with Docker rootless (done in the pipelines project itself) Easiest and fastest is to run the default pipeline w/ mount as it does not change anything in the project:

    $ pipelines --deploy mount

    If the installation of Docker rootless is incomplete, you will see the pipelines utility to complain about setting up the container providing more info that docker has issues connecting to the Docker daemon like so:

    pipelines: setting up the container failed
    docker: Cannot connect to the Docker daemon at unix:///var/run/docker.sock. Is the docker daemon running?.
    See 'docker run --help'.
    exit status: 125

This means either the DOCKER_HOST environment parameter is missing or not pointing to the correct socket or the Daemon is not running. The address of the Docker daemon in the error message is useful to review to learn about the connection issue.

How To Progress

Switching the Docker daemon to rootless needs Docker to pull images again as they are stored in the users home folder (e.g. ~/.local/share/docker). See Ready for Offline in Read Me on how to pull pipeline images in batches.

To switch back from rootless to system:

$ systemctl --user stop docker; sudo systemctl start docker \
  && export DOCKER_HOST="unix:///var/run/docker.sock"
and back to rootless:
$ sudo systemctl stop docker; systemctl --user start docker \
  && export DOCKER_HOST="unix://${XDG_RUNTIME_DIR}/docker.sock"

To better integrate with your own users' environment, one could

  • Run Docker rootless on login
  • Add environment parameter to bashrc / zsh / shell profile

depending on preference.

This is covered in Rootless [ROOTLESS] as well.