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Short Description
Docker container for HandBrake
Full Description

Docker container for HandBrake

This is a Docker container for HandBrake.

The GUI of the application is accessed through a modern web browser (no installation or configuration needed on client side) or via any VNC client.

A fully automated mode is also available: drop files into a watch folder and let HandBrake process them without any user interaction.

HandBrake is a tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs.

Quick Start

Launch the HandBrake docker container with the following command:

docker run -d \
    --name=handbrake \
    -p 5800:5800 \
    -v /docker/appdata/handbrake:/config:rw \
    -v $HOME:/storage:ro \
    -v $HOME/HandBrake/watch:/watch:rw \
    -v $HOME/HandBrake/output:/output:rw \


  • /docker/appdata/handbrake: This is where the application stores its configuration, log and any files needing persistency.
  • $HOME: This location contains files from your host that need to be accessible by the application.
  • $HOME/HandBrake/watch: This is where videos to be automatically converted are located.
  • $HOME/HandBrake/output: This is where automatically converted video files are written.

Browse to http://your-host-ip:5800 to access the HandBrake GUI. Files from
the host appear under the /storage folder in the container.


docker run [-d] \
    --name=handbrake \
    [-e <VARIABLE_NAME>=<VALUE>]... \
    [-p <HOST_PORT>:<CONTAINER_PORT>]... \
Parameter Description
-d Run the container in background. If not set, the container runs in foreground.
-e Pass an environment variable to the container. See the Environment Variables section for more details.
-v Set a volume mapping (allows to share a folder/file between the host and the container). See the Data Volumes section for more details.
-p Set a network port mapping (exposes an internal container port to the host). See the Ports section for more details.

Environment Variables

To customize some properties of the container, the following environment
variables can be passed via the -e parameter (one for each variable). Value
of this parameter has the format <VARIABLE_NAME>=<VALUE>.

Variable Description Default
USER_ID ID of the user the application runs as. See User/Group IDs to better understand when this should be set. 1000
GROUP_ID ID of the group the application runs as. See User/Group IDs to better understand when this should be set. 1000
SUP_GROUP_IDS Comma-separated list of supplementary group IDs of the application. (unset)
UMASK Mask that controls how file permissions are set for newly created files. The value of the mask is in octal notation. By default, this variable is not set and the default umask of 022 is used, meaning that newly created files are readable by everyone, but only writable by the owner. See the following online umask calculator: (unset)
TZ TimeZone of the container. Timezone can also be set by mapping /etc/localtime between the host and the container. Etc/UTC
KEEP_APP_RUNNING When set to 1, the application will be automatically restarted if it crashes or if user quits it. 0
APP_NICENESS Priority at which the application should run. A niceness value of -20 is the highest priority and 19 is the lowest priority. By default, niceness is not set, meaning that the default niceness of 0 is used. NOTE: A negative niceness (priority increase) requires additional permissions. In this case, the container should be run with the docker option --cap-add=SYS_NICE. (unset)
CLEAN_TMP_DIR When set to 1, all files in the /tmp directory are delete during the container startup. 1
DISPLAY_WIDTH Width (in pixels) of the application's window. 1280
DISPLAY_HEIGHT Height (in pixels) of the application's window. 768
SECURE_CONNECTION When set to 1, an encrypted connection is used to access the application's GUI (either via web browser or VNC client). See the Security section for more details. 0
VNC_PASSWORD Password needed to connect to the application's GUI. See the VNC Password section for more details. (unset)
X11VNC_EXTRA_OPTS Extra options to pass to the x11vnc server running in the Docker container. WARNING: For advanced users. Do not use unless you know what you are doing. (unset)
AUTOMATED_CONVERSION_PRESET HandBrake preset used by the automatic video converter. See the Automatic Video Conversion section for more details. Very Fast 1080p30
AUTOMATED_CONVERSION_FORMAT Video container format used by the automatic video converter for output files. This is typically the video filename extension. See the Automatic Video Conversion section for more details. mp4
AUTOMATED_CONVERSION_KEEP_SOURCE When set to 0, a video that has been successfully converted is removed from the watch folder. 1
AUTOMATED_CONVERSION_OUTPUT_SUBDIR Subdirectory of the output folder into which converted videos should be written. By default, this variable is not set, meaning that videos are saved directly into /output/. If Home/Movies is set, converted videos will be written to /output/Home/Movies. Use the special value SAME_AS_SRC to use the same subfolder as the source. For example, if the video source file is /watch/Movies/mymovie.mkv, the converted video will be written to /output/Movies/. (unset)
AUTOMATED_CONVERSION_SOURCE_STABLE_TIME Time during which properties (e.g. size, time, etc) of a video file in the watch folder need to remain the same. This is to avoid processing a file that is being copied. 5
AUTOMATED_CONVERSION_SOURCE_MIN_DURATION Minimum title duration (in seconds). Shorter titles will be ignored. This applies only to video disc sources (ISO file, VIDEO_TS folder or BDMV folder). 10
AUTOMATED_CONVERSION_CHECK_INTERVAL Interval (in seconds) at which the automatic video converter checks for new files. 5
HANDBRAKE_DEBUG Setting this to 1 enables HandBrake debug logging. Log messages are sent to /config/handbrake.debug.log (container path). NOTE: When enabled, a lot of information is generated and the log file will grow quickly. Make sure to enable this temporarily and only when needed. (unset)

Data Volumes

The following table describes data volumes used by the container. The mappings
are set via the -v parameter. Each mapping is specified with the following

Container path Permissions Description
/config rw This is where the application stores its configuration, log and any files needing persistency.
/storage ro This location contains files from your host that need to be accessible by the application.
/watch rw This is where videos to be automatically converted are located.
/output rw This is where automatically converted video files are written.


Here is the list of ports used by the container. They can be mapped to the host
via the -p parameter (one per port mapping). Each mapping is defined in the
following format: <HOST_PORT>:<CONTAINER_PORT>. The port number inside the
container cannot be changed, but you are free to use any port on the host side.

Port Mapping to host Description
5800 Mandatory Port used to access the application's GUI via the web interface.
5900 Optional Port used to access the application's GUI via the VNC protocol. Optional if no VNC client is used.

Docker Compose File

Here is an example of a docker-compose.yml file that can be used with
Docker Compose.

Make sure to adjust according to your needs. Note that only mandatory network
ports are part of the example.

version: '3'
    build: .
      - "5800:5800"
      - "/docker/appdata/handbrake:/config:rw"
      - "$HOME:/storage:ro"
      - "$HOME/HandBrake/watch:/watch:rw"
      - "$HOME/HandBrake/output:/output:rw"

Docker Image Update

If the system on which the container runs doesn't provide a way to easily update
the Docker image, the following steps can be followed:

  1. Fetch the latest image:
    docker pull jlesage/handbrake
  2. Stop the container:
    docker stop handbrake
  3. Remove the container:
    docker rm handbrake
  4. Start the container using the docker run command.

User/Group IDs

When using data volumes (-v flags), permissions issues can occur between the
host and the container. For example, the user within the container may not
exists on the host. This could prevent the host from properly accessing files
and folders on the shared volume.

To avoid any problem, you can specify the user the application should run as.

This is done by passing the user ID and group ID to the container via the
USER_ID and GROUP_ID environment variables.

To find the right IDs to use, issue the following command on the host, with the
user owning the data volume on the host:

id <username>

Which gives an output like this one:

uid=1000(myuser) gid=1000(myuser) groups=1000(myuser),4(adm),24(cdrom),27(sudo),46(plugdev),113(lpadmin)

The value of uid (user ID) and gid (group ID) are the ones that you should
be given the container.

Accessing the GUI

Assuming that container's ports are mapped to the same host's ports, the
graphical interface of the application can be accessed via:

  • A web browser:

    http://<HOST IP ADDR>:5800
  • Any VNC client:

    <HOST IP ADDR>:5900


By default, access to the application's GUI is done over an unencrypted
connection (HTTP or VNC).

Secure connection can be enabled via the SECURE_CONNECTION environment
variable. See the Environment Variables section for
more details on how to set an environment variable.

When enabled, application's GUI is performed over an HTTPs connection when
accessed with a browser. All HTTP accesses are automatically redirected to

When using a VNC client, the VNC connection is performed over SSL. Note that
few VNC clients support this method. [SSVNC] is one of them.


Here are the certificate files needed by the container. By default, when they
are missing, self-signed certificates are generated and used. All files have
PEM encoded, x509 certificates.

Container Path Purpose Content
/config/certs/vnc-server.pem VNC connection encryption. VNC server's private key and certificate, bundled with any root and intermediate certificates.
/config/certs/web-privkey.pem HTTPs connection encryption. Web server's private key.
/config/certs/web-fullchain.pem HTTPs connection encryption. Web server's certificate, bundled with any root and intermediate certificates.

NOTE: To prevent any certificate validity warnings/errors from the browser
or VNC client, make sure to supply your own valid certificates.

NOTE: Certificate files are monitored and relevant daemons are automatically
restarted when changes are detected.

VNC Password

To restrict access to your application, a password can be specified. This can
be done via two methods:

  • By using the VNC_PASSWORD environment variable.
  • By creating a .vncpass_clear file at the root of the /config volume.
    This file should contains the password in clear-text. During the container
    startup, content of the file is obfuscated and moved to .vncpass.

The level of security provided by the VNC password depends on two things:

  • The type of communication channel (encrypted/unencrypted).
  • How secure access to the host is.

When using a VNC password, it is highly desirable to enable the secure
connection to prevent sending the password in clear over an unencrypted channel.

ATTENTION: Password is limited to 8 characters. This limitation comes from
the Remote Framebuffer Protocol RFC (see
section 7.2.2). Any
characters beyhond the limit are ignored.

Access to Optical Drive(s)

By default, a Docker container doesn't have access to host's devices. However,
access to one or more device can be granted with the --device DEV parameter.

Optical drives usually have /dev/srX as device. For example, the first drive
is /dev/sr0, the second /dev/sr1, and so on. To allow HandBrake to access
the first drive, this parameter is needed:

--device /dev/sr0

To easily find devices of optical drives, start the container and look at its
log for messages similar to these ones:

[cont-init.d] executing...
[cont-init.d] looking for usable optical drives...
[cont-init.d] found optical drive /dev/sr0, but it is not usable because is not exposed to the container.
[cont-init.d] no usable optical drive found.
[cont-init.d] exited 0.

Since HandBrake can decrypt DVD video discs, their conversion can be performed
directly from the optical device. From the graphical interface, click the
Open Source button and browse through the file system to find your optical
drive device (e.g. /dev/sr0).

Automatic Video Conversion

This container has an automatic video converter built-in. This is useful to
batch-convert videos without user interaction.

Basically, files copied to the /watch container folder are automatically
converted by HandBrake to a pre-defined video format according to a pre-defined
preset. Both the format and the preset are specified via environment variables:

Variable Default

See the Environment Variables section for details
about setting environment variables.

NOTE: Converted videos are stored to the /output folder of the container.

NOTE: All default presets, along with personalized/custom ones, can be seen
with the HandBrake GUI.

Multiple Watch Folders

If needed, up to 4 additionnal watch folders can be used:

  • /watch2
  • /watch3
  • /watch4
  • /watch5

This is useful in scenarios where videos need to be converted by different
presets. For example, one could use a watch folder for movies and another watch
folder for TV shows, both having different encoding quality requirements.

By default, additional watch folders inherits the same settings has the main one
(/watch). A setting for a particular watch folder can be overrided by adding
its index to the corresponding environment variable name.

For example, to set the HandBrake preset used to convert videos in /watch2,
the environment variable AUTOMATED_CONVERSION_PRESET_2 is used.
AUTOMATED_CONVERSION_PRESET_3 is used for /watch3, and so on.

All settings related to the automatic video converter can be overrided for each
additional watch folder:


Video Discs

The automatic video converter supports video discs, in the folllowing format:

  • ISO image file.
  • VIDEO_TS folder (DVD disc).
  • BDMV folder (Blu-ray disc).

Note that folder names are case sensitive. For example, video_ts, Video_Ts
or Bdmv won't be treated as discs, but as normal directories.

Video discs can have multiple titles (the main movie, previews, extras, etc).
In a such case, each title is converted to its own file. These files have the
suffix .title-XX, where XX is the title number. For example, if the file
MyMovie.iso has 2 titles, the following files would be generated:

  • MyMovie.title-1.mp4
  • MyMovie.title-2.mp4

It is possible to ignore titles shorted than a specific amount of time. By
default, only titles longer than 10 seconds are processed. This duration can be
variable. See the Environment Variables section for
details about setting environment variables.

When the source is a disc folder, the name of the converted video file will
match its parent folder's name, if any. For example:

Watch folder path Converted video filename
/watch/VIDEO_TS VIDEO_TS.mp4
/watch/MyMovie/VIDEO_TS MyMovie.mp4


Custom actions can be performed using hooks. Hooks are shell scripts executed
by the automatic video converter.

NOTE: Hooks are always invoked via /bin/sh, ignoring any shebang the
script may have.

Hooks are optional and by default, no one is defined. A hook is defined and
executed when the script is found at a specific location.

The following table describe available hooks:

Container location Description Parameter(s)
/config/hooks/ Hook executed when the conversion of a video file is terminated. The first parameter is the status of the conversion. A value of 0 indicates that the conversion terminated successfuly. Any other value represent a failure. The second argument is the path to the converted video (the output). The third argument is the path to the source file. Finally, the fourth argument is the name of the Handbrake preset used to convert the video.

During the first start of the container, example hooks are installed in
/config/hooks/. Example scripts have the suffix .example. For example,
you can use /config/hooks/ as a starting point.

NOTE: Keep in mind that this container has the minimal set of packages
required to run HandBrake. This may limit actions that can be performed in

Support or Contact

Having troubles with the container or have questions? Please
create a new issue.

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