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Software Exercise 4.3: Building Your Own Docker Container (Beta!)

This exercise will walk you through the steps to build your own Docker container based on Python, with the numpy Python library added on.

Sample Script and Access Point

This example uses the same script, as Exercise 2.5

This exercise must be run on

Getting Set Up

Before building your own Docker container, you need to go through the following set up steps:

  1. Install Docker Dekstop on your computer.

  2. You may need to create a Docker Hub user name to download Docker Desktop; if not created at that step, create a user name for Docker Hub now.

  3. (Optional): Once Docker is up and running on your computer, you are welcome to take some time to explore the basics of downloading and running a container, as shown in the initial sections of this Docker lesson:

Building a Container

In order to make our container reproducible, we will be using Docker's capability to build a container image from a specification file.

  1. First, create an empty build directory on your computer, not the CHTC or OSG submit servers.

  2. In the build directory, create a file called Dockerfile (no file extension!) with the following contents:

    # Start with this image as a "base".
    # It's as if all the commands that created that image were inserted here.
    # Always use a specific tag like "4.10.3", never "latest"!
    # The version referenced by "latest" can change, so the build will be 
    # more stable when building from a specific version tag. 
    FROM continuumio/miniconda3:4.10.3
    # Use RUN to execute commands inside the image as it is being built up.
    RUN conda install --yes numpy
    # RUN multiple commands together.
    # Try to always "clean up" after yourself to reduce the final size of your image.
    RUN apt-get update \
    && apt-get --yes install --no-install-recommends graphviz \
    && apt-get --yes clean \
    && rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/*

    This is our specification file and provides Docker with the information it needs to build our new container. There are other options besides FROM and RUN; see the Docker documentation for more information.

  3. Note that our container is starting from an existing container continuumio/miniconda3:4.10.3. This container is produced by the continuumio organization; the number 4.10.3 indicates the container version. When we create our new container, we will want to use a similar naming scheme of:


    In what follows, you will want to replace USERNAME with your DockerHub user name. The CONTAINER name and VERSIONTAG are your choice; in what follows, we will use py3-numpy as the container name and 2021-08 as the version tag.

  4. To build and name the new container, open a command line window on your computer where you can run Docker commands. Use the cd command to change your working directory to the build directory with the Dockerfile inside.

    $ docker build -t USERNAME/py3-numpy:2021-08 .

    Note the . at the end of the command! This indicates that we're using the current directory as our build environment, including the Dockerfile inside.

Upload Container and Submit Job

Right now the container image only exists on your computer. To use it in CHTC or elsewhere, it needs to be added to a public registry like Docker Hub.

  1. To put your container image in Docker Hub, use the docker push command on the command line:

    $ docker push USERNAME/py3-numpy:2021-08

    If the push doesn't work, you may need to run docker login first, enter your Docker Hub username and password and then try the push again.

  2. Once your container image is in DockerHub, you can use it in jobs as described in Exercise 4.2.

Thanks to Josh Karpel for providing the original sample Dockerfile!