Docker Plugin

Docker images describe how to set up a container for running an application, including what files are present, and what program to run. provides an introduction to Docker. describes the Dockerfile: a file which describes how to set up the image.

sbt-native-packager focuses on creating a Docker image which can “just run” the application built by SBT.


The docker plugin depends on the Universal Plugin.


You need the version 1.3 or higher of the docker console client installed. SBT Native Packager doesn’t use the REST API, but instead uses the CLI directly.

It is currently not possible to provide authentication for Docker repositories from within the build. The docker binary used by the build should already have been configured with the appropriate authentication details. See


sbt docker:publishLocal

Required Settings


Spotify java based docker client

You can also use the java-based spotify Docker client. Add this to your build.sbt


and this to your plugins.sbt

libraryDependencies += "com.spotify" % "docker-client" % "3.5.13"

The Docker-spotify client is a provided dependency. You have to explicitly add it on your own. It brings a lot of dependencies that could slow your build times. This is the reason the dependency is marked as provided.


Settings and Tasks inherited from parent plugins can be scoped with Docker.

mappings in Docker := mappings.value


Informational Settings

packageName in Docker
The name of the package for Docker (if different from general name). This will only affect the image name.
version in Docker
The version of the package for Docker (if different from general version). Often takes the form x.y.z.
maintainer in Docker
The maintainer of the package, required by the Dockerfile format.

Environment Settings

The image to use as a base for running the application. It should include binaries on the path for chown, mkdir, have a discoverable java binary, and include the user configured by daemonUser (daemon, by default).
daemonUser in Docker
The user to use when executing the application. Files below the install path also have their ownership set to this user.
A list of TCP ports to expose from the Docker image.
A list of UDP ports to expose from the Docker image.
dockerExposedVolumes in Docker
A list of data volumes to make available in the Docker image.
dockerEntrypoint in Docker
Overrides the default entrypoint for docker-specific service discovery tasks before running the application. Defaults to the bash executable script, available at bin/<script name> in the current WORKDIR of /opt/docker.

Publishing Settings

The repository to which the image is pushed when the docker:publish task is run. This should be of the form [username] (assumes use of the repository) or []/[username].
The flag to automatic update the latest tag when the docker:publish task is run. Default value is FALSE. In order to use this setting, the minimum docker console version required is 1.10. See for a detailed explanation.
The alias to be used for tagging the resulting image of the Docker build. The type of the setting key is DockerAlias. Defaults to [dockerRepository/][name]:[version].
Overrides the default Docker build options. Defaults to Seq("--force-rm", "-t", "[dockerAlias]"). This default is expanded if dockerUpdateLatest is set to true.
Overrides the default Docker exec command. Defaults to Seq("docker")
Overrides the default Docker build command. The reason for this is that many systems restrict docker execution to root, and while the accepted guidance is to alias the docker command alias docker='/usr/bin/docker', neither Java nor Scala support passing aliases to sub-processes, and most build systems run builds using a non-login, non-interactive shell, which also have limited support for aliases, which means that the only viable option is to use sudo docker directly. Defaults to Seq("[dockerExecCommand]", "build", "[dockerBuildOptions]", ".").


The Docker plugin provides the following commands:

Generates a directory with the Dockerfile and environment prepared for creating a Docker image.
Builds an image using the local Docker server.
Builds an image using the local Docker server, and pushes it to the configured remote repository.


There are some predefined settings which you can easily customize. These settings are explained in some detail in the next sections. If you want to describe your Dockerfile completely yourself, you can provide your own docker commands as described in Custom Dockerfile.

Docker Image Name and Version

packageName in Docker := packageName.value

version in Docker := version.value

Docker Base Image

dockerBaseImage := "openjdk"

Docker Repository

dockerRepository := Some("dockeruser")

Docker Image Customization

dockerExposedPorts := Seq(9000, 9443)

dockerExposedVolumes := Seq("/opt/docker/logs")

In order to work properly with USER daemon the exposed volumes are first created (if they do not existend) and then chowned.

Install Location

The path to which the application is written can be changed with the location setting. The files from mappings in Docker are extracted underneath this directory.

defaultLinuxInstallLocation in Docker := "/opt/docker"

Custom Dockerfile

All settings before are used to create a single sequence of docker commands. You have the option to write all of them on your own, filter or change existing commands or simply add some.

First of all you should take a look what you docker commands look like. In your sbt console type

> show dockerCommands
[info] List(Cmd(FROM,openjdk:latest), Cmd(MAINTAINER,Your Name <>), ...)

Remove Commands

SBT Native Packager adds commands you may not need. For example, the chowning of a exposed volume:

import com.typesafe.sbt.packager.docker._

// we want to filter the chown command for '/data'
dockerExposedVolumes += "/data"

// use filterNot to return all items that do NOT meet the criteria
dockerCommands := dockerCommands.value.filterNot {

  // ExecCmd is a case class, and args is a varargs variable, so you need to bind it with @
  case ExecCmd("RUN", args @ _*) => args.contains("chown") && args.contains("/data")

  // don't filter the rest; don't filter out anything that doesn't match a pattern
  case cmd                       => false

Add Commands

Since dockerCommands is just a Sequence, adding commands is straightforward:

import com.typesafe.sbt.packager.docker._

// use += to add an item to a Sequence
dockerCommands += Cmd("USER", daemonUser.value)

// use ++= to merge a sequence with an existing sequence
dockerCommands ++= Seq(
  // setting the run script executable
    "chmod", "u+x",
     s"${(defaultLinuxInstallLocation in Docker).value}/bin/${executableScriptName.value}"),
  // setting a daemon user
  Cmd("USER", "daemon")

Write from Scratch

You can simply wipe out all docker commands with

dockerCommands := Seq()

Now let’s start adding some Docker commands.

import com.typesafe.sbt.packager.docker._

dockerCommands := Seq(
  Cmd("FROM", "openjdk:latest"),
  Cmd("MAINTAINER", maintainer.value),
  ExecCmd("CMD", "echo", "Hello, World from Docker")

Busybox/Ash Support

Busybox is a popular minimal Docker base image that uses ash, a much more limited shell than bash. By default, the Java archetype (Java Application Archetype) generates two files for shell support: a bash file, and a Windows .bat file. If you build a Docker image for Busybox using the defaults, the generated bash launch script will likely not work.

To handle this, you can use AshScriptPlugin, an ash-compatible archetype that is derived from the Java Application Archetype archetype. . Enable this by including:


With this plugin enabled an ash-compatible launch script will be generated in your Docker image.

Just like for Java Application Archetype, you have the option of overriding the default script by supplying your own src/templates/ash-template file. When overriding the file don’t forget to include ${{template_declares}} somewhere to populate $app_classpath $app_mainclass from your sbt project. You’ll likely need these to launch your program.