FreeBSD virtual environment management and repository

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Using Docker on FreeBSD


Docker solutions pretty much embedded in the lives of many IT companies. Moreover, the trends towards Docker-lock-in situations began to be traced, when companies completely build the infrastructure using Docker. This technology, like any other, has pros and cons, but the fact remains - in today's world Docker is very popular - even in spite of the fact that the number of forces for his support and service began to exceed the forces that are necessary spend engineers on the solution of those tasks that Docker originally had to solve, but without Docker. Engineers no longer spend their energy and time on implementing content delivery methods - now Docker does it, however all the forces and time of engineers are now spent on tracking Docker and Dockerization. Demand for this grows and some FreeBSD users who are tired of the simplicity/KISS of solutions, and often in the BSD-world the same question sounds: "When we finally can start all your time to solve problems caused by the use of Docker, because it's so exciting! ";-)

As a result of these needs, even such serious FreeBSD-based solutions as FreeNAS awkwardly trying to give their users Docker, completely replacing them with the native implementation of jail containers. For example in the following message, the FreeNAS developers explain the reasons for the termination of the development of jail-based environments and argue the transition to the Docker. First of all, because there is a huge amount of Docker-based services that you can just grab and use. However, one must understand that such a step is more a commercial move from the side IXSystem companies, which sells the NAS appliance and which goes on a leash on potential consumers, making an attempt to attract their attention. However, in fact, the technical effectiveness of such a solution is extremely low and the possibility of application is very limited. Why?

It should be noted that Docker is concentrated and implemented using Linux-only specific technologies - it is based on many Linux kernel functionals, such as cgroups and iptables, and it launches a container with a Linux environment.

In other words, if you want to run production on a Docker, nothing else will work for you except for Linux, since officially the project is developed and designed for Linux ecosystem. Yes, you can run Docker through an interlayer, as it does on Windows or MacOSX platforms, but be prepared to lose some of the functionality, flexibility and speed in such solution. The current implementation of the launch of Docker on MacOSX is based on the hypervisor xhyve (which in turn is based on developments bhyve), but no one will never run a large production infrastructure in dockers that run on MacOSX or Windows, or FreeNAS - in these cases, hypervisors (although they are fast) is an unnecessary layer that does not help the infrastructure, but on the contrary, only complicates it. Therefore, these options should be considered only as an opportunity for developers and testers to check service or code bypassing the resources of only their local working machine

Of the main limitations, of course, this is overhead for the hypervisor. You need to preconfigure the bhyve environment, giving out a certain amount of resources (cores, memory), within which you will run the Docker. Sooner or later, you will encounter the problem of exhausting the Docker resources inside bhyve (or notice that this is poorly masquerading on virtual cores) and you will need to run another bhyve-based hypervisor for the Docker. In this case, it will not be easy to manage environments in different hypervisors. In other words, such implementations as in MacOSX and FreeNAS are suitable only for games and for local development, when you run 2-5 dockers, to test something, but not more - and this is not suitable for use in combat conditions and large installations. And when MacOS and Windows - it's an excellent choice as a working desktop machine, where you can develop and run on it Docker, few people prefer to install on their workstation and use as a desktop-system NAS system.

For these reasons, we do not plan to implement Docker support in CBSD/ClonOS in the near future: if you do something and build production installation on the basis of FreeBSD, to minimize risks, loss in speed and flexibility, we recommend that you use your native FreeBSD stack/stuff: jail, bhyve and xen. If you need a Docker in a large environment - use Linux as a Docker hoster. If you use FreeBSD as a Desktop-OS and you need to test the service or you develop code - you can easily configure a similar MacOS docker scheme - using bhyve as a docker-server and a docker-client on FreeBSD. Current articles oriented only for this 'local' use cases.

Must say that there is an unofficial port docker-freebsd, but from the articles authors point of view, this is the worst option, because there is no official support from Docker developers; Docker never planet to run through a jail, which loses much in the overall functionality. In addition, the port is oriented to Linuxator - an interlayer in FreeBSD, permanently at any time in the "partially working" state, because it tries to emulate the most minimal set of Linux kernel system calls, but to catch up with the modern development of the Linux kernel for FreeBSD linuxator is very difficult, it's a constant game of catch-up. Therefore, you can spend a very long time meeting unexpected application behavior inside docker-freebsd, which is caused by nobody testing, nowhere used and not oriented to such a method of launching Docker environments in a half-realized Linux emulation.

Therefore, we create an implementation similar to MacOS/xhyve, but with FreeBSD/bhyve.

Using Docker with FreeBSD (via bhyve)

Next on the steps is written an instruction for those who want to run Docker, working in FreeBSD. The general file system problem for /var/lib/docker is not considered here, since for local experiments, file system bhyve guest is enough. If you want to use several bhyve for Docker on one host and run a large number of 3D Docker images, we recommend to look at the Docker docker-volume-netshare plugin, with which you can create volume on CIFS/NFS, or on project 9p and virtio-9p in bhyve.

  • 1) Any Linux where Docker is work is suits for us. Create a virtual machine with enough resources to run Docker environments in it.

For minimization fans, take a look on the Boot2Docker project, which is a minimal installation of the Linux environment for running Docker. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, this image does not support UEFI boot mode, so we preferred to install Linux Ubuntu 16.04 and further instructions are targeted at it.

  • 2) Let's move Linux network to the bridge mode, because through it we will configure the network of containers being launched.

We need this mode of operation if we want to work with containers directly from the FreeBSD host system, not only inside bhyve. For this, we will install a bridge-utils package for working with the bridge inside the Linux guest:

% apt-get install bridge-utils

Rewrite /etc/network/interfaces configuration for the physical interface, placing it in bridge.

In our case:

  • * physical bhyve NIC name: enp0s4
  • * IP address of bhyve with Docker:
  • * The network in which we will run the Docker and which is available on the FreeBSD hoster:
  • * Network gateway:

So, full content of /etc/network/interfaces can look like this:

source /etc/network/interfaces.d/*

# The loopback network interface
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

iface enp0s4 inet manual

allow-hotplug enp0s4

auto br0
iface br0 inet static
        bridge_ports enp0s4
        bridge_fd 9
        bridge_hello 2
        bridge_maxage 12
        bridge_stp off
  • 3) Reboot bhyve to apply new network settings and install docker:
% apt-get install
  • 4) Through arguments, configure Docker on the network with the default bridge, with the appropriate network parameters.

And also, we'll add the TCP port through the -H switch, through which the external client (FreeBSD in our case) will interact with the Docker daemon. To do this, open the file /etc/defaults/docker and add this line:

DOCKER_OPTS="-H tcp:// --bridge=br0 --fixed-cidr= --default-gateway= -H unix:///var/run/docker.sock"
  • 5) On FreeBSD, install the Docker-client:
% pkg install sysutils/docker

For the current session, we export the correct value DOCKER_HOST:

setenv DOCKER_HOST tcp://

Or write it globally in files ~/.cshrc or /etc/profile or /etc/csh.cshrc

On this stage, the hypervisor configuration with bhyve is finished. Let's test it:

On FreeBSD:

% uname -a
FreeBSD 12.0-CURRENT FreeBSD 12.0-CURRENT #5 r315987: Sun Mar 26 20:00:24 MSK 2017  amd64

Get ubuntu image:

% docker pull ubuntu
Using default tag: latest
latest: Pulling from library/ubuntu
d54efb8db41d: Pull complete 
f8b845f45a87: Pull complete 
e8db7bf7c39f: Pull complete 
9654c40e9079: Pull complete 
6d9ef359eaaa: Pull complete 
Digest: sha256:dd7808d8792c9841d0b460122f1acf0a2dd1f56404f8d1e56298048885e45535
Status: Downloaded newer image for ubuntu:latest

Launch new ubuntu-based containers:

% docker run -it ubuntu
root@de8c2a012278:/# uname -a
Linux de8c2a012278 4.4.0-71-generic #92-Ubuntu SMP Fri Mar 24 12:59:01 UTC 2017 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

Find out container IP:

% docker inspect de8c2a012278 | grep IPAddress
            "SecondaryIPAddresses": null,
            "IPAddress": "",
                    "IPAddress": "",

ping it:

%# ping -c2
PING ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=64 time=0.055 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.059 ms

--- ping statistics ---
2 packets transmitted, 2 packets received, 0.0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 0.055/0.057/0.059/0.002 ms

As we see, everything is quite simple and for local development it should be enough. Good luck!