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This image is no longer used nor maintained by its original developer. If you want to continue its development, you may fork the project in accordance with its license.


A Docker image based on ubuntu that runs systemd with a minimal set of services.

This image is meant for development use only. We strongly recommend against running it in production!

Supported tags

  • 18.04, bionic
  • 16.04, xenial, latest

But why?

The short answer: use solita/ubuntu-systemd for running applications that need to be run in a full Ubuntu system and not on their own as PID 1.

The long answer: solita/ubuntu-systemd might be a better choice than the stock ubuntu image if one of the following is true:

  • You want to test a provisioning or deployment script that configures and starts systemd services.

  • You want to run multiple services in the same container.

  • You want to solve the the PID 1 zombie reaping problem.

If you just want to run a single, short-lived process in a container, you should probably use the stock ubuntu image instead.


Before you start your first systemd container, run the following command to set up your Docker host. It uses special privileges to create a cgroup hierarchy for systemd. We do this in a separate setup step so we can run systemd in unprivileged containers.

docker run --rm --privileged -v /:/host solita/ubuntu-systemd setup


You need to add a couple of flags to the docker run command to make systemd play nice with Docker.

We must disable seccomp because systemd uses system calls that are not allowed by Docker's default seccomp profile:

--security-opt seccomp=unconfined

Ubuntu's systemd expects /run and /run/lock to be tmpfs file systems, but it can't mount them itself in an unprivileged container:

--tmpfs /run
--tmpfs /run/lock

systemd needs read-only access to the kernel's cgroup hierarchies:

-v /sys/fs/cgroup:/sys/fs/cgroup:ro

Allocating a pseudo-TTY is not strictly necessary, but it gives us pretty color-coded logs that we can look at with docker logs:



This image is useless as it's only meant to serve as a base for your own images, but you can still create a container from it. First set up your Docker host as described in Setup above. Then run the following command:

docker run -d --name systemd --security-opt seccomp=unconfined --tmpfs /run --tmpfs /run/lock -v /sys/fs/cgroup:/sys/fs/cgroup:ro -t solita/ubuntu-systemd

Check the logs to see if systemd started correctly:

docker logs systemd

If everything worked, the output should look like this:

Detected virtualization docker.
Detected architecture x86-64.

Welcome to Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS!

Set hostname to <aad1d41c3a2e>.
Initializing machine ID from random generator.
[  OK  ] Created slice System Slice.
[  OK  ] Reached target Slices.
[  OK  ] Listening on Journal Socket.
[  OK  ] Listening on Journal Socket (/dev/log).
[  OK  ] Reached target Local File Systems.
         Starting Journal Service...
         Starting Create Volatile Files and Directories...
[  OK  ] Reached target Swap.
[  OK  ] Reached target Sockets.
[  OK  ] Reached target Paths.
[  OK  ] Started Create Volatile Files and Directories.
[  OK  ] Started Journal Service.

Also check the journal logs:

docker exec systemd journalctl

The output should look like this:

-- Logs begin at Thu 2017-03-16 14:12:14 UTC, end at Thu 2017-03-16 14:12:26 UTC. --
Mar 16 14:12:14 aad1d41c3a2e systemd-journald[19]: Runtime journal (/run/log/journal/) is 8.0M, max 99.9M, 91.9M free.
Mar 16 14:12:14 aad1d41c3a2e systemd-journald[19]: Journal started
Mar 16 14:12:14 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Reached target System Initialization.
Mar 16 14:12:15 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Reached target Basic System.
Mar 16 14:12:17 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Starting LSB: Set the CPU Frequency Scaling governor to "ondemand"...
Mar 16 14:12:18 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Starting Permit User Sessions...
Mar 16 14:12:19 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Starting /etc/rc.local Compatibility...
Mar 16 14:12:20 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Started Daily Cleanup of Temporary Directories.
Mar 16 14:12:21 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Reached target Timers.
Mar 16 14:12:22 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Started Permit User Sessions.
Mar 16 14:12:23 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Started /etc/rc.local Compatibility.
Mar 16 14:12:24 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Started LSB: Set the CPU Frequency Scaling governor to "ondemand".
Mar 16 14:12:25 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Reached target Multi-User System.
Mar 16 14:12:26 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Startup finished in 11.215s.

To check for clean shutdown, in one terminal run:

docker exec systemd journalctl -f

And in another shut down systemd:

docker stop systemd

The journalctl logs should look like this on a clean shutdown:

Mar 16 14:15:49 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Received SIGRTMIN+3.
Mar 16 14:15:49 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Stopped target Multi-User System.
Mar 16 14:15:50 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Stopping Permit User Sessions...
Mar 16 14:15:51 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Stopping LSB: Set the CPU Frequency Scaling governor to "ondemand"...
Mar 16 14:15:52 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Stopped /etc/rc.local Compatibility.
Mar 16 14:15:53 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Stopped target Timers.
Mar 16 14:15:54 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Stopped Daily Cleanup of Temporary Directories.
Mar 16 14:15:55 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Stopped Permit User Sessions.
Mar 16 14:15:56 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Stopped LSB: Set the CPU Frequency Scaling governor to "ondemand".
Mar 16 14:15:57 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Stopped target Basic System.
Mar 16 14:15:58 aad1d41c3a2e systemd[1]: Stopped target Slices.

Known issues

There's a bug in Docker versions < 1.12.0 that randomly causes /run and /run/lock to be mounted in the wrong order. In this case the output of docker logs looks like this:

Failed to mount tmpfs at /run/lock: Permission denied
[!!!!!!] Failed to mount API filesystems, freezing.
Freezing execution.

If this happens to you, docker kill the container (it won't listen for the shutdown signal) and start it again with docker start. Better luck next time!



Copyright © 2016-2018 Solita. Licensed under the MIT license.


systemd-enabled versions of Docker base images







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