What is Pipework

Pipework is a script that adds an IP to LXC containers. It takes as arguments the host interface, which is normally a bridge device, the name of the guest to add the interface to, and an ip address. The guest name can either be an LXC cgroup, a docker instance id, or a docker name. The ip address parameter can be a bridge, or an IP address with a n optional netmask and gateway parameter.

Why you should use it

Normailly with docker, the IP address given to a container is randomly generated and not publically accessible. If you want to have a container externally accessible, you setup the networking in the host system, and “expose”, or map the port from the container to the host system. This is great in theory, but, say you want three separate web servers all listening on 80. In this case, the docker host needs to have 3 separate IP’s configured, and docker needs to map the container to the correct IP.

With pipework, you can assign an IP on the network, and any ports exposed in the dockerfile are available from that IP address. This allows setting up docker instances much like you would a normal virtual machine, where the docker instance can have a static IP that is directly accessible. Also, by setting the gateway, you can enforce all traffic exits the docker instance through that IP, and can create EGRESS firewall rules for that docker instance. Whereas, when mapping ports to the host, it’s impossible to know the IP ahead of time of the instance that traffic will originate from.

Installing pipework

Pipework is a single shell script and can be installed using the following command: sudo bash -c "curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/jpetazzo/pipework/master/pipework > /usr/local/bin/pipework"

The only required dependencies are bash and iproute2 utilities, docker integration will require docker being installed and dhcp option requires a dhcp client being available. You’ll also need to setup your ethernet interface in linux as a bridge (not discussed here).

Using pipework with docker

If you are using named docker instances, adding the ip address to a docker instance bind is as simple as: pipework br0 bind

If you want to route out of change it to: pipework br0 bind

If you aren’t naming your docker containers, replace the name with the docker instance id (can be found with docker ps)

Also, pipework can execute docker itself since docker returns the instance id like so: pipework br0 $(/usr/bin/docker run -d bind)

Automating startup of your docker instance with pipework and systemd

If you’re system uses systemd, it’s really simple to setup docker instances to start on boot with pipework. Here’s a simple service file:


Description=Docker BIND DNS Server
ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/docker kill bind
ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/docker rm bind
ExecStart=/usr/bin/docker run --name bind bind
ExecStartPost=/usr/bin/pipework br0 bind
ExecStop=/usr/bin/docker stop bind

This service can then be started manually with systemctl start docker-bind.service

It can also be configured to start on boot with: systemctl enable docker-bind.service