Docker Quick Start

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Note: This guide requires Docker version 17.09.0 or greater. Refer to the Docker documentation for how to install it.

This guide will help you quickly get started running Docker containers using gVisor.

First, follow the Installation guide.

If you use the apt repository or the automated install, then you can skip the next section and proceed straight to running a container.

Configuring Docker

First you will need to configure Docker to use runsc by adding a runtime entry to your Docker configuration (e.g. /etc/docker/daemon.json). The easiest way to this is via the runsc install command. This will install a docker runtime named “runsc” by default.

sudo runsc install

You must restart the Docker daemon after installing the runtime. Typically this is done via systemd:

sudo systemctl restart docker

Running a container

Now run your container using the runsc runtime:

docker run --runtime=runsc --rm hello-world

You can also run a terminal to explore the container.

docker run --runtime=runsc --rm -it ubuntu /bin/bash

Many docker options are compatible with gVisor, try them out. Here is an example:

docker run --runtime=runsc --rm --link backend:database -v ~/bin:/tools:ro -p 8080:80 --cpus=0.5 -it busybox telnet

Verify the runtime

You can verify that you are running in gVisor using the dmesg command.

$ docker run --runtime=runsc -it ubuntu dmesg
[    0.000000] Starting gVisor...
[    0.354495] Daemonizing children...
[    0.564053] Constructing home...
[    0.976710] Preparing for the zombie uprising...
[    1.299083] Creating process schedule...
[    1.479987] Committing treasure map to memory...
[    1.704109] Searching for socket adapter...
[    1.748935] Generating random numbers by fair dice roll...
[    2.059747] Digging up root...
[    2.259327] Checking naughty and nice process list...
[    2.610538] Rewriting operating system in Javascript...
[    2.613217] Ready!

Note that this is easily replicated by an attacker so applications should never use dmesg to verify the runtime in a security sensitive context.


You may also wish to install a runtime entry with different options. The runsc install command can accept flags that will be passed to the runtime when it is invoked by Docker. For example, to install a runtime with debugging enabled, run the following:

sudo runsc install --runtime runsc-debug -- \
  --debug \
  --debug-log=/tmp/runsc-debug.log \
  --strace \

Next, look at the different options available for gVisor: platform, network, filesystem.