Welcome to Habitus

Habitus is a standalone Docker build flow tool. It is a command line tool that builds Docker images based on their `Dockerfile` and a `build.yml`.

View habitus on Github

Using Habitus

You can install Habitus by downloading a single executable for your platform of choice or building it from scratch (see the Installation Section). Getting started with Habitus is easy. You can use a build.yaml file to define the build flow and steps of your project.

Build files

Habitus uses a yml file as a descriptor for builds. Here is an example:

  version: 2016-02-13 // version of the build schema.
    - builder:
      name: builder
      dockerfile: Dockerfile.builder
        - /go/src/github.com/cloud66/iron-mountain/iron-mountain
        - /go/src/github.com/cloud66/iron-mountain/config.json
        - /go/src/github.com/cloud66/iron-mountain/localhost.crt
        - /go/src/github.com/cloud66/iron-mountain/localhost.key
          - rm -rf /root/.ssh/
    - deployment:
      name: ironmountain
      dockerfile: Dockerfile.deployment
        - builder
    - uploader:
      name: uploader
      dockerfile: Dockerfile.uploader
        - ironmountain
      command: s3cmd --access_key=_env(ACCESS_KEY) --secret_key=_env(SECRET_KEY) put /app/iron-mountain s3://uploads.aws.com

Build files can be made up of multiple steps. Each step is independent of the other ones and downstream steps can use upstream ones as source (in FROM command).

In the example above, there are three steps: builder, deployment and uploader. All steps work out of the same working directory. dockerfile states which Dockerfile is used to build this step.

Here is a list of all step elements:


Artifacts are files to be copied outside of a build image in a step. This can be used when a step is build of a compiled language like Go or Java where the image requires build dependencies. The next step can then use the build step’s artifacts in a runtime dependency only image.

Each artefact has two parts: source and destination. Source is the path from within the image and destination where the file will be copied to on the “build server”. If destination is missing, the current folder will be used. Full path and file permissions of the source will be preserved during copy. So a file that comes from /app/build/result/abc of the image will go to ./app/build/result/abc of the build server if no destination is set.

Here is an example:

` - /go/src/service/go-service`


- /go/src/service/go-service:/tmp/go-service

Artifacts are copied from the container and can be used with ADD or COPY commands in downstream steps. Habitus copies artefact file permissions as well.

Here is an example that uses an artefact generated in step builder

FROM ubuntu
ADD ./iron-mountain /app/iron-mountain

Doing More with Habitus


Cleanup is a step that runs after the build is finished for a step. At the moment, cleanup is limited to commands:

    - apt-get purge -y man  perl-modules vim-common vim-tiny libpython3.4-stdlib:amd64 python3.4-minimal xkb-data libx11-data eject python3 locales golang-go
    - apt-get clean autoclean
    - apt-get autoremove -y
    - rm -rf /var/lib/{apt,dpkg,cache,log}/

This runs the commands in the provided order on the image and then as a last step squashes the image to remove anything that’s been removed. This is particularly useful when it comes to private information like ssh private keys that need to be on the image during the build (to pull git repos for example) but can’t be published as part of the built image.

Image sequencing

Habitus allows dovetailing (sequencing) of images from different steps. This means a step can use the image built by the previous step as the source in its Dockerfile FROM command. This is done automatically if FROM command refers to an image name used by a previous step.

Habitus automatically parses the FROM image name and replaces it with the correct name when it is used in multi-tenanted setup. This enables multiple builds of the same build file to run in parallel with different session UIDs (see below).

Please note if you are using step A’s result in step B’s FROM statement, you need to make sure A is listed under depends_on attribute of B. Otherwise both A and B will be built in parallel.

Step dependencies

Steps can depend on each other. This can be specified by the depends_on attribute.

Steps can depend on one or more of the other steps. This will determine the build order for steps. Independent steps are built in parallel and according to the build order defined by dependencies.

Environment variables

Environment variables can be used in the build file with the _env(VAR) format:

  - /go/src/go-service/_env(SERVICE_NAME)

This will be replaced before the build file is fed into the build engine. By default Habitus inherits all environment variables of its parent process. This can be overridden by passing environment variables into Habitus explicitly through the env command parameter:

$ habitus -env SERVICE_NAME=abc -env RAILS_ENV=production

In the example above, you can pass in AWS S3 key and secret like this:


Running commands

Habitus allows you to run an arbitary command inside of a built container. This can be useful in many cases like uploading the build artifacts to webserver, resetting your exception handling service after each build or starting your release process.

command attribute is optional. If present, the image is built and a container is started based on it to run the command.

command runs after the build, cleanup and copying of the artifacts are done.

An example to upload a build artefact to S3 can be like this

FROM cloud66/uploader
ADD ./iron-mountain /app/iron-mountain

cloud66/uploader is a simple Docker image that has S3CMD installed on it.

The Dockerfile here is a simple one that starts from cloud66/uploader and adds one of the build artifacts to the image so it can be uploaded to S3.

Command line parameters

Habitus accepts the following command line parameters:

Multi-tenancy for Habitus

Habitus supports multi-tenancy of builds by using a uid parameter.

All builds and images will be tagged with the uid for this unless a step name explicitly has a tag. In that case the tag is concatenated with the -uid flag.


Development Environment for Habitus

Habitus requires running in privileged more (sudo) so it can run the squash method (keeping file permissions across images). It also requires the following environment variables: DOCKER_HOST and DOCKER_CERT_PATH. These are usually available when Docker is running on a machine, but might not be available in sudo mode. To fix this, you can pass them into the app with command line params:

$ sudo habitus –host $DOCKER_HOST –certs $DOCKER_CERT_PATH


Habitus Squash feature needs gnu tar to be available on the machine. (Gnu Tar installation instructions on OSX)