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Docker Images definitions and utility scripts for rapid development and deployment of REDHAWK SDR systems, Domains, and Devices.
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This repository builds a series of Docker images and scripts for standing up an installation of REDHAWK SDR as well as several example devices and a web server.

For the USRP image (geontech/redhawk-usrp), the UHD driver is recompiled to a newer version and the USRP_UHD Device is compiled from source against that newer driver. The result is access to the latest Ettus Research USRPs from the container.

DOCKER: You must be using at least Docker 17. This was tested using Docker-CE.

macOS / OS X Users: The version of Bash in macOS is frozen in the 3.x series, thanks to GPLv3. If you want to use the scripts, please follow the special instructions below.


Run make to pull the prebuild images and link the helper scripts. Depending on your internet connection, this may take several minutes.

Please also see the special notes.


To build all images, simply type make build. At the command line, you can also specify the variables: REST_PYTHON and REST_PYTHON_BRANCH, which specifically apply to the geontech/redhawk-webserver.

You will end up with the following images that are meant't to be run individually.

  • geontech/redhawk-base: This is the repository installation, omni services (non-running), and an /etc/omniORB.cfg update script.
  • geontech/redhawk-runtime: The typical "REDHAWK Runtime" group install. It is the basis for the domain and various device launchers.

The remaining images are derived and come with helper scripts for deploying your system:

  • geontech/redhawk-omniserver: Inherits from geontech/redhawk-base, it has OmniORB and OmniEvents services wrapped in a single image, intended to be run as a singleton in the network. If you have an Omni server running elsewhere, you do not need this.
  • geontech/redhawk-development: Configured to expose a workspace volume and run the IDE.
  • geontech/redhawk-domain: Configured to run as a Domain.
  • geontech/redhawk-gpp: Configured to run as a GPP -bearing Node.
  • geontech/redhawk-rtl2832u: Configured to run as an RTL2832U -bearing Node.
  • geontech/redhawk-usrp: Configured to run as an USRP_UHD -bearing Node.
  • geontech/redhawk-bu353s4: Configured to run as a BU353S4 -bearing Node.
  • geontech/redhawk-webserver: Instantiates a rest-python web server.

The following scripts will also be linked into the main directory. Each script supports -h and --help to learn the usage of the script, and running the script with no arguments provides a status update.

  • login: Starts a bash shell for the named container (basically a docker exec wrapper).
  • show-log: Displays a log from a named container.
  • omniserver: Manages an instance of the OmniORB services (locally to the Docker host, optional).
  • domain: Manages REDHAWK Domain instances.
  • gpp: Starts or stops a GPP for the named domain and external OmniServer IP address.
  • rtl2832u: Manages RTL2832U Nodes (USB-attached devices).
  • usrp: Manages USRP_UHD Nodes (USB- or network-attached devices).
  • bu353s4: Manages BU353S4 Nodes (USB serial).
  • volume-manager: Creates or deletes Docker volumes labeled for use as an SDRROOT or a development (IDE) Workspace.
  • rhide: Runs an instance of the REDHAWK IDE with named SDRROOT and workspace (Docker volume or host file system).
  • webserver: Manages an instance of a REST-Python server.

Please also see the special notes.

Special Notes

This Makefile supports a default VERSION (i.e., VERSION=2.0.7 make ...) which will attempt to build the images for that version of REDHAWK SDR. This does not mean this particular commit of the repository is backwards compatible to all versions of REDHAWK SDR at this time. This variable is provided as a convenience for testing if the build will succeed on newer minor and patch releases from the current tagged release.

If you are interested in previous versions of REDHAWK SDR, please pull the associated tag (i.e., git checkout 2.0.6-1 for 2.0.6, Docker-REDHAWK patch release #1).


The main elements one needs for a REDHAWK system are the naming and event services (OmniORB and OmniEvents), a Domain, and a GPP. If the scripts are not in the main directory, use make scripts to generate the links. Each scripts supports the -h and --help that cover usage. Below is a simplified example.

./domain start REDHAWK_DEV1

At this point you will have a functioning REDHAWK Domain at a host-exposed OmniORB server. Its container name will be REDHAWK_DEV. Other non-Docker REDHAWK instances can now join this Domain as well as long as your host system's firewall settings expose ports 2809 and 11169.

./gpp start GPP1 -d REDHAWK_DEV1

A GPP container launches the node GPP1 on the REDHAWK_DEV1 Domain. Its container name will be GPP1-REDHAWK_DEV1. You can now launch waveforms.

If you would like to log into the Domain container, use login:

./login REDHAWK_DEV1 redhawk

You will enter a bash shell as the redhawk user.

Note: Not all images have this user defined. For example, the only user in the geontech/redhawk-omniserver image is root, the default.

Note: For containers where the name is derived from the Node and Domain names (e.g., GPP), you have to specify the full container name (in this example, GPP1-REDHAWK_DEV1).

Persistent SDRROOT

Use volume-manager to create an SDRROOT volume that can be mounted to the Domain and IDE.

./volume-manager create sdrroot MY_REDHAWK
./domain start MY_DOMAIN --sdrroot MY_REDHAWK

The result will be a Domain with a persistent SDRROOT.

Running the IDE

The geontech/redhawk-development image provides the development libraries necessary to develop components and devices. Use the rhide script to map your SDRROOT volume and workspace (absolute path or volume name):

./rhide run --sdrroot MY_REDHAWK --workspace /home/me/workspace

REST-Python Web Server

The following section contains information about the geontech/redhawk-webserver REST-Python server image.


Running the REST-Python server via the script is simple:

./webserver start

The host-side port to map can be set using either -p or --port.

Additionally, if an alternate version of REST-Python should be mounted, use --rest-python to specify the local absolute file path. Alternatively, one can build the image with a different version already installed (see this).

Customizing the Image

Building the REST-Python geontech/redhawk-webserver image has a two options:

  • REST_PYTHON: URL to a git server where the REST-Python source is located (default is Geon's).
  • REST_PYTHON_BRANCH: Branch name of the preferred REST-Python source tree (default is master).

Specifying no options (make geontech/redhawk-webserver) bakes in the default REST-Python server and branch. The above options can be specified by passing the variables at make time:

make geontech/redhawk-webserver REST_PYTHON=http://my_other_target/repo

Device Node Controllers

The following devices have their own images, launching scripts, etc. to facilitate rapid development and integration with hardware. The included devices are the REDHAWK SDR community's GPP, USRP_UHD and RTL2832U as well as Geon's BU353S4.

In each case, similar to running ./domain with no arguments, each of these device launchers will also print a status message for all running instances of their respecive images.


The geontech/redhawk-gpp image provides a Node running a GPP Device for your system. The gpp script provides only a few options for naming the device, setting the Domain name, etc. See the --help for usage. Starting with the default domain:

./gpp start MyGPP


The geontech/redhawk-usrp image compiles the 3.10 version of UHD and then compiles the USRP_UHD from source. The resulting device is capable of working with many of the latest Ettus Research USRPs like the USB-attached B205mini. The associated usrp script allows you to configure the Device in its Node when starting an instance of it.

For the B205mini, it identifies as the b200 type. With it connected to a powered USB 3.0 port:

./usrp start MyB205 --usrptype b200

This will start a container attached to REDHAWK_DEV (the default Domain). The container will be mapped to the host's /dev/usb bus as a volume so that UHD can locate the device and update it before the node is started.

Note: Because the container startup is going through that lengthy process, startup may take several seconds.

Other USRP types can be as well. See the script's --help for a list of options.

Special notes for USB USRPs

USB-attached USRPs like the B205mini may need firmware loaded the first time the device is plugged into the computer (or virtual machine). Otherwise, when you show-log the container, you will see CORBA Transient errors when the device fails to initialize quickly enough. You can stop and restart the container andd the problem will be resolved, or you can run a container first to initialize the device:

docker run --rm -it \
    -v /dev/bus/usb:/dev/bus/usb \
    --privileged \
    geontech/redhawk-usrp \
    bash -lc "uhd_find_devices && uhd_usrp_probe"

The result is a one-off container that will configure the firmware and FPGA image.


The geontech/redhawk-rtl2832u image provides the RTL2832U Device. The associated launcher script is rtl2832u:

./rtl2832u start MyRTL

This will start a container with the RTL2832U device configured with its defaults.

IMPORTANT: You may need to blacklist the RTL's kernel driver(s) on your host system before starting this container.


Methods for temporarily unloading the kernel drivers varies with host operating system distribution. For example, Ubuntu 16.04 is by way of modprobe:

modprobe -r dvb_usb_rtl28xxu rtl2832

To make the change permanent, one creates a configuration (.conf) file in /etc/modprobe.d with these contents:

blacklist dvb_usb_rtl28xxu
blacklist rtl2832
blacklist rtl2830


The geontech/redhawk-bu353s4 image provides Geon's BU353S4 FEI 2.0 -compliant USB-attached serial GPS receiver. Like the Device, it has only one option: the path to the serial device in /dev. The default is /dev/ttyUSB0. Starting an instance on the default REDHAWK_DEV Domain is:

./bu353s4 start MyGPS

You can then attach to the GPS port and pull coordinates, time, etc.

macOS Notes

The Docker Images provided in this tooling work, with some caveats pertaining to networking and directly-attached hardware.

The provided scripts require Bash 4.x or better and macOS (OS X) does not include a version greater than 3.x because of GPLv3. Therefore to use the scripts, one must install Bash 4.

A simple route is to install homebrew and if necessary, take ownership of /usr/local (where it installs), install bash, and add it to the available shells.

sudo chown -R $(whoami):admin /usr/local
brew install bash
echo /usr/local/bin/bash | sudo tee -a /etc/shells

Each user that wants to use the up-to-date version of bash can change their default shell by running:

chsh -s /usr/local/bin/bash

Re-open the terminal app (or iTerm2, etc.) and bash -v should indicate the more recent version:

GNU bash, version 4.4.12(1)-release (x86_64-apple-darwin16.3.0)
Copyright (C) 2016 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>

This is free software; you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Please continue on to the caveats section to see how the limitations of Docker in macOS impact using Docker-REDHAWK.

macOS Caveats


At this time, the implementation follows this link. You will need to ensure XQuartz is installed (use homebrew as described in that link) and its preferences set to allow connections from network clients. The rest of the linked document is taken care of automatically by the rhide script (trying to get your IP, launching XQuartz, add the IP to xhost, etc.).


At this time, Docker for macOS uses HyperKit or VirtualBox (depending on your configuration) to run the Docker Daemon. And in either case, the network configuration behaves like an inconfigurable double-NAT which prevents one from opening the necessary ports for inter-host communication, which is required for being able to network multiple hosts together using OmniORB (REDHAWK's underlying naming service). This means that until Docker for macOS (and by extension, HyperKit, etc.) support opening the required ports, your macOS system is, unfortunately, a bit of an island vs. other operating system deployments.

However, this does not prevent one from being able to work in the container shell, run builds for REDHAWK (Continuous Integration), or even develop web applications using REST-Python (webserver) and expose those to other hosts (since it's a single port). Moreover the images can be used independently of the scripts, so docker-compose and Swarm setups are also possible (if only not being able to connect other hosts to it or vice versa).

USB-attached Devices

At this time it is untested if there is a way to map USB devices (i.e., like the USRP B205mini) to the VM that runs Docker on macOS. Doing so in Linux requires running the container privileged with the USB bus mounted to the container. This potential limitation impacts any USB-attached devices including some USRPs (usrp) as well as the RTL2832U (rtl2832u) and BU353S4 (bu353s4).

Controlling OmniORB

There are two environment variables defined starting at the geontech/redhawk-base image which define the container's OmniORB configuration: OMNISERVICEIP and OMNISERVICEPORTS.

The OMNISERVICEIP should point to your OmniORB Naming service. It should be set to the IP address or resolvable network name (FQDN) for that service.

The OMNISERVICEPORTS adds a configuration parameter to the OmniORB configuration to constrain the ports available to the service (giop:tcp::...). This can greatly simplify firewall configurations at the host system as well as enable inter-system communication such as attaching a remote device to a Docker-Compose -based Domain and subsystems. Specify it as a range of port numbers that will not conflict on the host system, e.g.: 5000-5100. If exposing a Docker-Compose -based system to other systems, ensure these ranges do not overlap with other hosted containers or the host.

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