# Install IPFS Kubo inside Docker

You can run Kubo IPFS inside Docker to simplify your deployment processes, as well as horizontally scale your IPFS infrastructure.

# Set up

  1. Grab the IPFS docker image hosted at hub.docker.com/r/ipfs/kubo (opens new window).

  2. To make files visible inside the container, you need to mount a host directory with the -v option to Docker. Choose a directory that you want to use to import and export files from IPFS. You should also choose a directory to store IPFS files that will persist when you restart the container.

    export ipfs_staging=</absolute/path/to/somewhere/>
    export ipfs_data=</absolute/path/to/somewhere_else/>
  3. Start a container running ipfs and expose ports 4001 (P2P TCP/QUIC transports), 5001 (RPC API) and 8080 (Gateway):

    docker run -d --name ipfs_host -v $ipfs_staging:/export -v $ipfs_data:/data/ipfs -p 4001:4001 -p 4001:4001/udp -p -p ipfs/kubo:latest


    The API port provides admin-level access to your IPFS node. See RPC API docs for more information.

  4. Watch the ipfs log:

    docker logs -f ipfs_host
  5. Wait for IPFS to start:

    RPC API server listening on /ip4/
    Gateway server listening on /ip4/
    Daemon is ready

    You can now stop watching the log.

  6. Run IPFS commands with docker exec ipfs_host ipfs <args...>. For example:

    To connect to peers:

    docker exec ipfs_host ipfs swarm peers

    To add files:

    cp -r <something> $ipfs_staging
    docker exec ipfs_host ipfs add -r /export/<something>
  7. Stop the running container:

    docker stop ipfs_host

When starting a container running ipfs for the first time with an empty data directory, it will call ipfs init to initialize configuration files and generate a new keypair. At this time, you can choose which profile to apply using the IPFS_PROFILE environment variable:

docker run -d --name ipfs_host -e IPFS_PROFILE=server -v $ipfs_staging:/export -v $ipfs_data:/data/ipfs -p 4001:4001 -p 4001:4001/udp -p -p ipfs/kubo:latest

# Customizing your node

Custom initialization code can be run by mounting scripts in the /container-init.d directory in the container. These are executed sequentially and in lexicographic order, after ipfs init is run and the swarm keys are copied (if the IPFS repo needs initialization), and before the IPFS daemon is started.

Since this runs each time the container is started, you should check if your initialization code should be idempotent, particularly if you're persisting state outside of the container (e.g. using mounted directories).

For example, this sets a custom bootstrap node before the daemon starts:

set -ex
ipfs bootstrap rm all
ipfs bootstrap add "/ip4/$PRIVATE_PEER_IP_ADDR/tcp/4001/ipfs/$PRIVATE_PEER_ID"

This shows how to mount the file into the container-init.d directory when running the container:

docker run -d --name ipfs \
  -e PRIVATE_PEER_ID=... \
  -v ./001-test.sh:/container-init.d/001-test.sh \
  -p 4001:4001 \
  -p \
  -p \

Use in custom images

See the gateway example on the go-ipfs-docker-examples repository (opens new window)

# Private swarms inside Docker

It is possible to initialize the container with a swarm key file (/data/ipfs/swarm.key) using the variables IPFS_SWARM_KEY and IPFS_SWARM_KEY_FILE. The IPFS_SWARM_KEY creates swarm.key with the contents of the variable itself, while IPFS_SWARM_KEY_FILE copies the key from a path stored in the variable. The IPFS_SWARM_KEY_FILE overwrites the key generated by IPFS_SWARM_KEY.

docker run -d --name ipfs_host -e IPFS_SWARM_KEY=<your swarm key> -v $ipfs_staging:/export -v $ipfs_data:/data/ipfs -p 4001:4001 -p 4001:4001/udp -p -p ipfs/kubo:latest

The swarm key initialization can also be done using docker secrets, and requires docker swarm or docker-compose:

cat your_swarm.key | docker secret create swarm_key_secret -
docker run -d --name ipfs_host --secret swarm_key_secret -e IPFS_SWARM_KEY_FILE=/run/secrets/swarm_key_secret -v $ipfs_staging:/export -v $ipfs_data:/data/ipfs -p 4001:4001 -p 4001:4001/udp -p -p ipfs/kubo:latest

# Key rotation inside Docker

It is possible to do key rotation in an ephemeral container that is temporarily executing against a volume that is mounted under /data/ipfs:

# given container named 'ipfs-test' that persists repo at /path/to/persisted/.ipfs
docker run -d --name ipfs-test -v /path/to/persisted/.ipfs:/data/ipfs ipfs/kubo:latest
docker stop ipfs-test  

# key rotation works like this (old key saved under 'old-self')
docker run --rm -it -v /path/to/persisted/.ipfs:/data/ipfs ipfs/kubo:latest key rotate -o old-self -t ed25519
docker start ipfs-test # will start with the new key