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GCR Cleaner

GCR Cleaner deletes old container images in Docker Hub, Container Registry, Artifact Registry, or any Docker v2 registries. This can help reduce storage costs, especially in CI/CD environments where images are created and pushed frequently.

There are multiple deployment options for GCR Cleaner. Click on your preferred deployment option for a detailed guide:

For one-off tasks, you can also run GCR Cleaner locally:

docker run -it us-docker.pkg.dev/gcr-cleaner/gcr-cleaner/gcr-cleaner-cli

This is not an official Google product.

Container images

Pre-built container images are available at the following locations. We do not offer versioned container images.

gcr.io/gcr-cleaner/gcr-cleaner
asia-docker.pkg.dev/gcr-cleaner/gcr-cleaner/gcr-cleaner
europe-docker.pkg.dev/gcr-cleaner/gcr-cleaner/gcr-cleaner
us-docker.pkg.dev/gcr-cleaner/gcr-cleaner/gcr-cleaner

Payload & parameters

The payload is expected to be JSON with the following fields:

  • repos - List of the full names of the repositories to clean (e.g. ["gcr.io/project/repo"]. This field is required.

  • grace - Relative duration in which to ignore references. This value is specified as a time duration value like "5s" or "3h". If set, refs newer than the duration will not be deleted. If unspecified, the default is no grace period (all untagged image refs are deleted).

  • keep - If an integer is provided, it will always keep that minimum number of images. Note that it will not consider images inside the grace duration. GCR Cleaner attempts to keep the most recently created images, but there are some caveats. Some community tooling sets container creation time to a date back in 1980, which breaks the default sorting algorithm. As such, GCR Cleaner uses the following sorting algorithm for container images:

    • If either of the containers were created before Docker even existed, it sorts by the date the container was uploaded to the registry.

    • If two containers were created at the same timestamp, it sorts by the date the container was uploaded to the registry.

    • In all other situations, it sorts by the timestamp the container was created.

    This algorithm exists to preserve ordering for containers that are moved between registries.

  • tag_filter_any - If specified, any image with at least one tag that matches this given regular expression will be deleted. The image will be deleted even if it has other tags that do not match the given regular expression. The regular expressions are parsed according to the Go regexp package.

  • tag_filter_all - If specified, any image where all tags match this given regular expression will be deleted. The image will not be delete if it has other tags that do not match the given regular expression. The regular expressions are parsed according to the Go regexp package.

  • dry_run - If set to true, will not delete anything and outputs what would have been deleted.

  • recursive - If set to true, will recursively search all child repositories.

    NOTE! On Container Registry, you must grant additional permissions to the service account in order to query the registry. The most minimal permissions are roles/browser.

    NOTE! On Artifact Registry, you must grant additional permissions to the service account in order to query the registry. The most minimal permissions are roles/storage.objectViewer.

    WARNING! If the authenticated principal has access to many Container Registry or Artifact Registry repos, this will be very slow! This is because the Docker v2 API does not support server-side filtering, meaning GCR Cleaner must download a manifest of all repositories to which you have access and then do client-side filtering. The most granular filter is at the host layer, meaning GCR Cleaner will perform a list operation on gcr.io (for Container Registry) or us-docker.pkg.dev (for Artifact Registry), parse the response and do client-side filtering to match against the provided patterns, then start deleting. To re-iterate, this operation is not segmented by project - if the authenticated principal has access to 10,000 repos, the client will need to filter through 10,000 repos. The easiest way to mitigate this is to practice the Principle of Least Privilege and create a dedicated service account that has granular permissions on a subset of repositories.

Permissions

This section lists the minimum required permissions depending on the target cleanup system.

Artifact Registry

The service account running GCR cleaner must have roles/artifactregistry.repoAdmin or greater on the Artifact Registry repositories. Here is an example for setting that permissions via gcloud:

gcloud artifacts repositories add-iam-policy-binding "my-repo" \
  --project "my-project" \
  --location "us" \
  --member "serviceAccount:gcr-cleaner@my-project.iam.gserviceaccount.com" \
  --role "roles/artifactregistry.repoAdmin"

Container Registry

Container Registry stores images in Google Cloud Storage, so the service account running GCR Cleaner must have read and write permissions on the underlying Cloud Storage bucket. Here is an example for setting that permission via gsutil:

gsutil acl ch -u gcr-cleaner@my-project.iam.gserviceaccount.com:W gs://artifacts.my-project.appspot.com

To clean up Container Registry images hosted in specific regions, update the bucket name to include the region:

gs://eu.artifacts.my-project.appspot.com

If you plan on using the recursive functionality, you must also grant the service account "Browser" permissions:

gcloud projects add-iam-policy-binding "my-project" \
  --member "serviceAccount:gcr-cleaner@my-project.iam.gserviceaccount.com" \
  --role "roles/browser"

Debugging

By default, GCR Cleaner only emits user-level logging at the "info" level. More logs are available at the "debug" level. To configure the log level, set the GCRCLEANER_LOG environment variable to the desired log value:

export GCRCLEANER_LOG=debug

In debug mode, GCR Cleaner will print a lot of information, including its entire decision process for candidate deletion. If you open an issue, please include these debug logs as they are very helpful in finding and fixing any bugs.