Building Variations of Docker Images

This is no post on “best practices” on how to build or deploy customised versions of docker images. I don’t even know if this technique is advisable or not. Nevertheless, I came up with this when I was in dire need and out of time (so normal case).

The Problem

I faced the issue of having to set up an elasticsearch cluster along with all bells and whistles needed for an effective nolow-ops approach. I went with docker images which I built based on the officially provided ones. As I’m totally wild for automation, I made sure I had code for just about anything and my favourite tool to do so is gradle (of course).

At one point I decided to include extra “client” nodes (which hold no data and aren’t supposed to be ranked to master ever). As I didn’t want to spoil the nice gradle build with specialties while also abhorring anything unDRY I had to come up with some niftiness.


The Situation

The typical elasticsearch deployment comes also with related technologies to complement the use case. Normally there is logstash instances and a kibana host, monitoring stuff and backup, maybe an extra database or two. To ease the setup I put all resources for a specific docker image into dedicated sub folders, which would also determine the image tag.

So, having a folder like:


would result in a docker image tagged like:


All those images would later be bound into a specific docker-compose based deployment.

All was well. Until I needed variations on that.


The Way Out

Build Configuration. That’s how I call it momentarily. I know.
Basically, its just a bunch of properties under an extra build (name) space. I’m bad at explaining. Maybe I come up with something better eventually.

Nevertheless, the existence of a specifically named property file in the current build context defines a variant of the very same build. So every resource is copied and filtered over using the key-value-pairs provided for the current variant.

Here is a build script dealing with that:

task build_elk(description: 'builds the ELK stack docker images') {
    doFirst {
        file("${projectDir}/etc/docker/elk").eachDir { File dir ->
            // iterate over build configs
            def cfgs = dir.listFiles().findAll { =~ /build\.config/} ?: [null]

            cfgs.each { File cfg ->
                def cprops = new Properties()
                if (cfg) {
                    println ">>> Building config ${ - 'build.config.' - '.properties'}"
                    cfg?.withInputStream {cprops.load(it)}

                def tag = "${registry}/${}${cprops['image_path'] ?: ''}:${AUX_IMG_VERSION}"

                copy {
                    from dir
                    into "${buildDir}/elk/$tag"
                    exclude 'build.config.**'
                    filter(ReplaceTokens, tokens: cprops)

                exec {
                    workingDir "${buildDir}/elk/$tag"
                    commandLine 'docker', 'build', '--rm','--force-rm', '--no-cache', '-t', tag, '.'

The Way Forward

Lot’s of generification. Leveling this into the fabric of gradle itself. Maybe make a plugin. Maybe.


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