I have had a much outdated but heroically stable Dell PowerEdge 2550 for many years now. It's great to have a place to work on personal development projects without dealing with hourly costs etc, but sometimes the lack of performance can really be an issue. A lot of the work I've done in the past few years has been centered around virtualization and so the machine has collected more dust than it once did. I've been doing some work with Docker recently and got excited that I could deploy some of my projects on this machine again. Somehow, I hadn't ever noticed that Docker is only supported on amd64 at this point.

  • "focusing on amd64 for now"
  • "it should work fine on 32-bit"
  • "you just need new images and a 32-bit docker binary"

After some more searching I found that it wasn't incompatible but only unsupported. With comments like these, I had a new yak to shave.

The server started with a fully updated Ubuntu 13.04 install. I originally tried to use the available Go deb packages but they were too old (1.0.2) for Docker which requires at least 1.1. Next, I tried the binary distribution but that was compiled with SSE2 optimizations enabled. I would have to build Go from source.

Building Go doesn't require a lot of prerequisites, but we need a compiler and mercurial to clone the sources.

$ sudo apt-get -y install build-essential mercurial

Not only is this server 32-bit, but it's old enough to lack support for SSE2.

$ export GO386=387

Clone the Go sources.

$ hg clone -u release https://code.google.com/p/go /home/mwhiteley/p/go

Build Go and add it to our path.

$ pushd /home/mwhiteley/p/go/src
$ ./all.bash
$ popd
$ export GOPATH=/home/mwhiteley/go
$ export PATH=$GOPATH/bin:$PATH:/home/mwhiteley/p/go/bin
$ go version
go version go1.1.2 linux/386

For Docker, we need a few more prerequisites such as the Linux Containers userspace tools and a kernel module for the Advanced Multi Layered Unification Filesystem.

$ sudo apt-get -y install git linux-image-extra-$(uname -r) lxc xz-utils

Clone the Docker sources.

$ git clone dotcloud/docker $GOPATH/src/github.com/dotcloud/docker

Enable and build a 32-bit Docker.

$ pushd $GOPATH/src/github.com/dotcloud/docker
$ curl https://gist.github.com/whiteley/6400552/raw/server.go.diff | git apply -
$ go get -v github.com/dotcloud/docker/...
$ go install -v github.com/dotcloud/docker/...
$ popd
$ docker version
Go version (client): go1.1.2
Go version (server): go1.1.2
Last stable version: 0.6.1

A base image is just the contents of a minimal file system and we can create one with debootstrap. The /etc/apt/sources.list file will not contain anything except the single install repository.

$ sudo debootstrap raring /tmp/rootfs
$ for d in raring raring-security raring-updates raring-backports
for> do echo "deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu ${d} main universe multiverse"
for> done | sudo tee /tmp/rootfs/etc/apt/sources.list
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu raring main universe multiverse
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu raring-security main universe multiverse
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu raring-updates main universe multiverse
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu raring-backports main universe multiverse
$ sudo tar czf /home/mwhiteley/p/raring_base32_rootfs.tgz -C /tmp/rootfs .

We can now create a docker group and start the daemon. The group members will have access to connect directly to the daemon running as root and potentially gain root access on the host. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and only do this on a development machine.

$ sudo addgroup docker
Adding group `docker' (GID 1001) ...
$ sudo addgroup mwhiteley docker
Adding user `mwhiteley' to group `docker' ...
Adding user mwhiteley to group docker
$ sudo docker -d
Loading containers: done.
2013/08/31 17:25:41 WARNING: Your kernel does not support cgroup swap limit.
2013/08/31 17:25:41 Listening for HTTP on /var/run/docker.sock (unix)

Now, in another terminal (a new login shell so your group membership takes effect), we can import the base image.

$ cat /home/mwhiteley/raring_base32_rootfs.tgz | docker import - mwhiteley/base32
$ docker images
REPOSITORY          TAG                 ID                  CREATED             SIZE
mwhiteley/base32    latest              c755b018548a        21 minutes ago      187.4 MB (virtual 187.4 MB)

Run a simple test to make sure that everything seems operational.

$ docker run c755b018548a env

Create a Dockerfile and build an image

$ cat <<'EOP' >/home/mwhiteley/p/docker/chef/Dockerfile
heredoc> FROM c755b018548a
heredoc> MAINTAINER Matt Whiteley <mattwhiteley@gmail.com>
heredoc> RUN apt-get update
heredoc> RUN apt-get -y install curl git ruby1.9.3
heredoc> RUN curl -L https://www.opscode.com/chef/install.sh | bash
heredoc> EOP
$ docker build /home/mwhiteley/p/docker/chef
 ---> b8d729360f11
Successfully built b8d729360f11
$ docker images
REPOSITORY          TAG                 ID                  CREATED             SIZE
<none>              <none>              b8d729360f11        19 seconds ago      88.5 MB (virtual 710.8 MB)
mwhiteley/base32    latest              c755b018548a        35 minutes ago      187.4 MB (virtual 187.4 MB)

Wow, look at the size of that thing! Evidently the ruby1.9.3 package in Ubuntu pulls in a ton of dependencies that we won't be needing and a different route for Ruby will save us a ton of space. For now, let's just make sure it all worked.

$ docker run b8d729360f11 chef-solo --version
Chef: 11.6.0

Awesome, Docker running on my 866MHz Pentium III! Now, on to make some better images for test environments.