Remember to Pull Your Base Docker Images Before Building

Posted on Fri 22 April 2016 in blog

At work I was recently debugging some docker containers that were being built nightly by Jenkins. These were actually the same images that I was building in my last article.

After making the changes that I mentioned in that article, I noticed that the resulting containers for argon were having no issues, but builds of our app using latest were having issues finding a package. So I built our app container locally and I dived in to see what was wrong.

$ docker run --rm -i -t --entrypoint="/bin/bash" container-name

This let me get a prompt inside the container to take a look at what the problem was. First I looked inside the node_modules folder to see if the package was messed up. What I instead noticed was that the container was missing a bunch of our dependencies! Then I got suspicious...

# node --version

What the fuck. This should be 5.10.1

So I retriggered the Jenkins job, blew everything away locally and repulled the baseimage:latest that Jenkins just built.

$ docker run --rm -i -t --entrypoint="/bin/bash" baseimage:latest

# node --version


So I check the Jenkins build log. Yes, it correctly spits out FROM node:latest when building the image. It pushes everything correctly. No errors, no typos.

So I explicitly compare what I was running before in the Dockerfile to what I was running now. Before it was actually this:

FROM node:5

And now its:

FROM node:latest

Currently those point to the same image on Docker hub. It was at this point though that I realised what was going on. At some point months ago someone on this Jenkins box did a docker pull node. Then at build time, when docker read the FROM node:latest line, it would check locally, see the image, and just use that.

This wasn't a problem before because FROM node:5 would look locally, but not see anything tagged node:5. It would then pull it from Docker Hub, but not save the tag on the server! Thus every time it ran it would repull the latest 5 release container.

So the solution? Be explicit in what your project needs in your automated builds. Pull your base images before attempting to use them.


for tag in ${TAGS//:/ }; do
    sed 's/TAG/'"${tag}"'/' Dockerfile-template > Dockerfile
    docker pull node:${tag}
    docker build --no-cache -t container-name:${tag} .
    docker push container-name:${tag}
    docker rmi container-name:${tag}