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Run Your Own Private Docker Registry

Dockerhub is great if your working on content that you are happy to share, but actually, I want to keep 99% of my work private. Thus, I run my own private docker registry that only I have access to.


For each of the examples below, simply copy the script into your docker-host server, update the settings (top of the script) and execute it with bash. It will run the registry on port 5000. Be aware that that you have to use SSL certificates now.

Local Storage Setup


###### Fill in the settings below ##################

# Specify the absolute path to where you want to store files

# Give your container a name to recognize it by

# Give a secret to your registry. Be sure to change this

########## Don't change below this Line ###########

# stop and remove the existing container if exists
docker kill $CONTAINER_NAME

docker run \
  -d \
  -v $LOCAL_STORAGE_DIR:/var/lib/registry \
  -e SETTINGS_FLAVOR=local \
  -e SEARCH_BACKEND=sqlalchemy \
  -e REGISTRY_HTTP_TLS_CERTIFICATE=/certs/domain.crt \
  -e REGISTRY_HTTP_TLS_KEY=/certs/domain.key \
  -v `pwd`/certs:/certs \
  -p 5000:5000 \
  --restart=always \
  --name "$CONTAINER_NAME" \

You can generate a random secret by using the command: head /dev/urandom | tr -dc A-Za-z0-9 | head -c$NUM_CHARACTERS

Alternatively, use this docker-compose version:

version: "3"

    container_name: registry
    image: registry
    restart: always
      - "5000:5000"
      - ./certs:/certs
      - ./auth:/auth
      - registry-images:/var/lib/registry
    - SEARCH_BACKEND=sqlalchemy
    - REGISTRY_HTTP_TLS_CERTIFICATE=/certs/domain.crt
    - REGISTRY_HTTP_TLS_KEY=/certs/domain.key
    - REGISTRY_AUTH=htpasswd
    - REGISTRY_AUTH_HTPASSWD_PATH=/auth/htpasswd
    - REGISTRY_HTTP_SECRET=mySuperSecretSecret

    driver: local

AWS S3 Storage Backend

Create a folder called certs within the folder you store the script below. Within that folder should be the certificate and key provided by a CA.



docker pull $IMAGE_NAME

docker kill $CONTAINER_NAME

docker run \
  -e AWS_BUCKET=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx \
  -e STORAGE_PATH=/registry \
  -e AWS_KEY="xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" \
  -e AWS_SECRET="xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" \
  -e SEARCH_BACKEND=sqlalchemy \
  -e REGISTRY_HTTP_SECRET=mySuperSecretSecret
  -v `pwd`/certs:/certs \
  -e REGISTRY_HTTP_TLS_CERTIFICATE=/certs/domain.crt \
  -e REGISTRY_HTTP_TLS_KEY=/certs/domain.key \
  -p 5000:5000 \
  --restart=always \
  --name "$CONTAINER_NAME" \

I got an error message that my certificates were signed by an unrecognised authority when using my StartSSL certificates. I resolved this by appending the to the end of the .crt file's contents.

Security - Authentication

The easiest way to secure your registry is to add some basic login authentication. This can be done by adding a folder called auth which contains an htpasswd file of credentials.

Then generate the credentials file with (after substituting the variables):


docker run \
  --entrypoint htpasswd \
  registry:2 -Bbn $USERNAME $PASSWORD >> auth/htpasswd

If that doesn't work for whatever reason, you can manually run the the htpasswd command outside the docker container: htpasswd -Bbn $USERNAME $PASSWORD >> auth/htpasswd

Then add these parameters to your docker run command before re-deploying.

-v `pwd`/auth:/auth \
-e "REGISTRY_AUTH=htpasswd" \

Htaccess Line Generator

I want to set up CI/CD pipelines with each project using its own username/password, so I created the following script for taking a username, and generating a random password and htaccess line:

echo -n "Enter a username: "

PASSWORD=$(cat /dev/urandom | tr -dc 'a-zA-Z0-9' | fold -w 32 | head -n 1)

echo "username: $USERNAME"
echo "password: $PASSWORD"
echo "htpasswd Line: $HTPASSWD_LINE"

If you find that the hpasswd line is empty be sure to install the apache2-utils package. The random password is made to be alphanumeric so that you can mask it in GitLab CI/CD.

Test It - Login

You can immediately test that your authentication configuration worked by trying to login. This has the added bonus of ensuring you don't have to login again later when you wish to push images to the registry.

docker login

You will be prompted for your username and password.

Security - Firewall

If you need your registry to be accessible without login but still be available over the internet, you need to use a firewall. The easiest solution is to use a cloud provider that provides a firewall service that can allow only certain IPs. AWS is such a service with its security groups.

If you want a solution that works using Linux iptables, then you should probably set up a port-forwarding server that acts as a firewall that forwards onto the registry and have the registry behind a NAT. An example would be to have the registry server behind a NAT so it is inaccessible to anybody, but connected to the proxy server via a VPN. The reason we can't just use local iptables rules on the registry itself is that docker containers completely circumvent these rules unless you take care to workaround the issues.

Garbage Collection

It appears that the registry does not automatically prune old images, so you will need to do this yourself. You can send API requests to the registry to delete certain images, but you probably just want to prune all dangling images like so:

docker exec registry \
  bin/registry garbage-collect \

Listing Images

If you wish to find out what images are in your registry, you can go to the following URL in your browser:

You will receive a JSON response with the following structure:

  "repositories": [

We are actually just simulating an API GET request by using our browser. You could send an API GET request with the http basic auth credentials to get the same result.

Listing Image Tags

After you have your list of images (above), you can list the tags available for that image:{IMAGE_NAME}/tags/list

You will get a JSON response similar to:

  "name": "my-image-name",
  "tags": [


Last updated: 30th October 2023
First published: 16th August 2018