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This project is no longer maintained. If you would like to take over maintaining, please fork.

A docker volume container using Unison for fast two-way folder sync. Created as an alternative to slow boot2docker volumes on OS X.

The docker image is available on Docker Hub:



First, you can launch a volume container exposing a volume with Unison.

$ CID=$(docker run -d -p 5000:5000 -e UNISON_WORKING_DIR=/unison -v /unison leighmcculloch/unison:latest)

You can then sync a local folder to /unison in the container with:

$ unison . socket://<docker>:5000/ -auto -batch

Next, you can launch a container connected with the volume under /unison.

$ docker run -it --volumes-from $CID ubuntu /bin/sh

Docker Compose

If you are using Docker Compose to manage a dev environment, use the volumes_from directive.

The following docker-compose.yml would mount the /unison folder from the unison container inside your mywebserver container.

  build: .  
    - unison  
  image: leighmcculloch/unison:latest  
    - UNISON_WORKING_DIR=/unison  
    - /unison
    - "5000:5000"

You can then sync a local folder, using the unison client, to /unison in the container with:

$ unison . socket://<docker>:5000/ -ignore 'Path .git' -auto -batch

You could combine it with fswatch to sync automatically when files change:

$ fswatch -o . | xargs -n1 -I{} unison . socket://<docker>:5000/ -ignore 'Path .git' -auto -batch

Installing Unison Locally

Unison requires the version of the client (running on the host) and server (running in the container) to match.

  • 2.40.102 (available via apt-get install unison on Ubuntu 14.04, 14.10, 15.04) [compiled with ocaml 4.01]
  • 2.48.3 (available via brew install unison on Mac OS X) [compiled with ocaml 4.02]

Available Unison Images

This docker repository includes common versions of Unison server compiled with different versions of OCaml. The version you need can be selected by choosing the appropriately tagged image from the docker hub repository. Images are tagged in the format:


Supported versions are any combination of the following:

  • Unison 2.40.102 and 2.48.3
  • OCaml 4.01 and 4.02

Additional versions can be added easily on request. Open an Issue if you need another version.


Docker Image Tag Unison OCaml
leighmcculloch/unison:latest 2.48.3 4.02
leighmcculloch/unison:latest-unison2.48.3 2.48.3 4.02
leighmcculloch/unison:latest-unison2.48.3-ocaml4.02 2.48.3 4.02
leighmcculloch/unison:latest-unison2.48.3-ocaml4.01 2.48.3 4.01
leighmcculloch/unison:latest-unison2.40.102 2.40.102 4.02
leighmcculloch/unison:latest-unison2.40.102-ocaml4.02 2.40.102 4.02
leighmcculloch/unison:latest-unison2.40.102-ocaml4.01 2.40.102 4.01

Installing fswatch Locally

Get fswatch using brew install fswatch on Mac OS X otherwise download and compile from a release build.


This docker image is licensed under GPLv3 because Unison is licensed under GPLv3 and is included in the image. See LICENSE.


A docker data container using Unison for fast folder sync. An alternative to slow boot2docker volumes on OS X.




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