Playing with Dockerhub’s Webhooks


Maintaining a website requires a little maintenance. Whether it be writing the best article in the world, or simply to put on line this article, there is a certain time investment needed (implying the use of a blog framework and not a cms.).

Fortunately, I set up some CI / CD and my website is built automatically when there is activity on github. When the image is updated on Dockerhub, there is only one step left. I want to publish these changes to my website online, and to do so I’d have to follow these steps:

  • ssh user@server.com
  • cd <somewhere>
  • git pull && docker-compose up -d

This is a manual task, something that I hate a lot. Honestly, I have better things to do (like playing with Emacs / Nixos configurations). I told myself that it would be the perfect time to learn Golang and build a tool that automatically update my website when a new image is available on dockerhub.

What the tool needs to accomplish


First, it’s important to know what you’re trying to accomplish when working on a new tool. For this project, there are only two requirements:

  • The tool must update the running container on the remote server

Must be an event-driven to prevent polling the docker registry every two minutes.

Remove the old image and old container once the updated container is running.

  • Be secure.

Do not allow anyone to simulate a webhook and thus, run any docker image on my machine.

Rather simple actualy.

How it works


The tool works like a web server. Since the Dockerhub webhooks are HTTP POST messages containing a structure in JSON that identifies the source of the event. We only need one entry point for the application, nothing more.

When a webhook is intercepted, the program make sure that the author of the image repository is the owner of the server. This is verified by looking for the OWNER environment variable in the first part of Repository.Name sent in the webhook.

Subsequently, the program will perform the commands that would normally been made by the administrator (me) to update the image and container.

  • docker stop <Repository.Name>
  • docker rm <Repository.Name>
  • docker-compose pull <Repository.Name>
  • docker-compose up -d <Repository.Name>

And now, in less than 30 seconds, the website is updated on the server. Actually there is a certain downtime with this method, but my blog is not a critical service.

Interaction with Docker from a container


This small web server must run in a container, for portability reasons. It is therefore difficult to have access to the Docker process on the host machine …

Actually no. It’s not difficult. Look at this docker-compose.yml:

  gopdater:
    build:
      context: .
    container_name: gopdater
    environment: 
      - OWNER=__owner__
    volumes:
      - /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock
      - ./docker-compose.yml:/app/gopdater/docker-compose.yml
    ports:
      - 8080:8080
    restart: always

Especially this part:

    volumes:
      - /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock

Since under Linux, everything is represented by a file, we only need to include our Docker socket into de container. This can be done using the volume functionnality. By doing so, it is therefore possible to manage Docker from a container.


Source code

Dockerhub-webhook-handler