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Last pushed: 2 years ago
Short Description
dnsmasq based docker dns autogenerating configuration from container labels
Full Description

Docker DNS-gen

dns-gen sets up a container running Dnsmasq and docker-gen.
docker-gen generates a configuration for Dnsmasq and reloads it when containers are
started and stopped.

By default it will provide thoses hosts: containername.docker and servicename.projectfolder.docker
pointing to the corresponding container.

Start the container

It is possible to use either using the dns.tld label or the DOMAIN_TLD environment variable.
If none of these is set it will default to docker.
Only the first found will be used, the label will be tried first then the environment.

$ docker run -d --name dns-gen \
  --publish 54:53/udp \
  --volume /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock:ro \
  --label dns.tld=my.tld
  --environment DOMAIN_TLD=my.other.tld

Ways to configure domain names on your containers

There are two ways to assign a domain to a container.
By default all containers are built using the TLD configured on the dns-gen container.

1. jwilder/nginx-proxy compatible way

This one will ignore the TLD configured on the dns-gen container.

$ docker run \
  --environment VIRTUAL_HOST=test.docker

2. ahmetalpbalkan/wagl compatible way

The following statement respects the TLD configured on the dns-gen container.

$ docker run \
  --label dns.service=test \
  --label dns.domain=project \

The domain for the container started above will be test.project.TLD where TLD is the TLD configured on your dns-gen container.

The next example also respects the TLD configured on the dns-gen container, but adds it's own.

$ docker run \
  --label dns.service=test \
  --label dns.domain=project \
  --label dns.tld=awesome \

This leads to the follwoing two domains pointing to the conatiner:

  1. test.project.TLD (TLD you set on the dns-gen conatiner)
  2. test.project.awesome (using the TLD you set on this container)

Start the container automatically after reboot

You can tell docker (version >= 1.2) to automatically start the DNS container
after booting, by passing the option --restart always to your run command.

$ docker run -d --name dns-gen \
  --restart always \
  --publish 54:53/udp \
  --volume /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock:ro \

beware! When your host will restart, it may change the IP address of
the docker0 interface.
This small change will prevent docker to start your dns-gen container. Indeed,
remember our container is configured to forward port 53 to the previous
docker0 interface which may not exist after reboot. Your container just will
not start, you will have to re-create it. To solve this drawback, force docker
to always use the same IP range by editing the default configuration of the docker
daemon (sometimes located in /etc/default/docker but may change regarding
your distribution). You have to restart the docker service to take the changes
into account. Sometimes the interface is not updated, you will have to restart
your host.

# For systemd users (Fedora and recent Ubuntu versions) :
$ vim /lib/systemd/system/docker.service
# append the --bip="" option to the ExecStart line
# then
$ sudo systemctl daemon-reload

# For other users
$ vim /etc/default/docker


# In any cases
$ sudo service docker restart

One more thing When you start your host, the docker service is not fully
Until this daemon is loaded, the dns container will not be automatically started
and you will notice bad performance when your host will try to resolve DNS.
The service is not fully loaded, because it uses a feature of systemd called
socket activation: The first access to the docker socket will trigger the
start of the true service.
To skip this feature, you simply have to activate the docker service.

$ sudo update-rc.d docker enable

Et voila, now, docker will really start with your host, it will always
use the same range of IP addresses and will always start/restart the container

Advanced usage

Instead of using the docker0 interface and modifying /etc/resolv.conf,
an other solution is to install localy a dnsmasq server (some distribs like
ubuntu or debian are now using it by default) and forward requests to the
dns-gen container and configure containers to use it.

step 1 Configure the local dnsmasq to forward request to
And listen to interfaces lo and docker0.

$ sudo vim /etc/NetworkManager/dnsmasq.d/01_docker`


$ sudo systemctl status NetworkManager

step 2 Run dns-gen and bind port 53 to the 54's host

$ docker run --daemon --name dns-gen \
  --restart always \
  --publish 54:53/udp \
  --volume /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock:ro \
  zetaron/docker-dns-gen -R

the option -R just tell dns-gen to not fallback to the default resolver
which avoid an infinity loop of resolution

step 3 Configure docker to use the docker0 as DNS server

# For systemd users (Fedora and recent Ubuntu versions) :

$ vim /etc/systemd/system/docker.service

# append
ExecStart=/usr/bin/docker daemon -H fd:// --bip= --dns=

# then
$ sudo systemctl daemon-reload

# For other users
$ vim /etc/default/docker
DOCKER_OPTS="--dns= --bip="

# In any cases
$ sudo service docker restart

Thank to this configuration the resolution workflow is now:

  • the host want to resolve host -> dnsmasq -> external dns
  • the host want to resolve foo.docker: host -> dnsmasq -> -> dns-gen
  • a container want to resolve container -> -> dnsmasq -> external dns
  • a container want to resolve foo.docker: container -> -> dnsmasq -> -> dns-gen
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