Tutorial: Generating Docker credentials using a service

To follow this tutorial on your own computer, please install the jet CLI locally first. Note that if the generator service you select needs to write to your local filesystem, you must use a local Docker host such as Docker for Mac.


Codeship supports using private registries for pulling and pushing images by allowing static dockercfg credentials to be encrypted as part of your codebase. Due to an increasing number of container registry vendors using different methods to generate Docker temporary credentials, we have added support for custom dockercfg credential generation. By using a custom service within your list of Codeship services, you can integrate with a standard dockercfg generation container for your desired provider. Codeship will provide a basic set of images supporting common providers, however you will also be able to use custom images to integrate with custom registries.

Using a service to generate Docker credentials

Taking advantage of this feature is fairly simple. First off, add a service using the image for your desired registry provider to your codeship-services.yml file. You can add any links, environment variables or volumes you need, just like with a regular service.

# codeship-services.yml
    dockerfile_path: ./Dockerfile
    image: myservice.com/myuser/myapp
  image: codeship/myservice-dockercfg-generator
  encrypted_env: creds.encrypted

To use this generator service, simply reference it using the dockercfg_service field in lieu of an encryped_dockercfg in your steps or services file.

# codeship-steps.yml
- type: push
  service: app
  registry: myservice.com
  image_name:  myservice.com/myuser/myapp
  dockercfg_service: myservice_generator

Codeship will run the service to generate a dockercfg as needed. Under the hood, Codeship will launch a container with the specified image, mount a volume and request a dockercfg be written to a temporary file on that volume. As soon as the dockercfg is read, it is deleted from the filesystem. The container logs from this generator service will be visible on the command line and in the Codeship interface.

Keep in mind that different generator images may have different requirements. If your generator image, for example, performs a docker login, you may need to set add_docker: true in order to use it. Be sure to read the documentation for your specific provider when implementing these generator services.

Creating your own dockercfg generator image

The majority of container registries use standard, static credentials, and even using a custom authentication proxy, most of the time you can generate a compatible static dockercfg and encrypt it for use within your pipeline. Should you need to use dynamic credentials, or some other method of securely retrieving static credentials during the CI/CD process, you’ll need to use a generator service. Luckily creating your own image is simple, the only requirement is that the image writes the dockercfg to a path provided via a CMD argument.

$ docker run -it -v /tmp/:/opt/data mygenerator /opt/data/dockercfg
$ cat /tmp/dockercfg # read generated dockercfg

The container must be provided with any credentials or configuration needs to generate a dockercfg via environment variables. When the image is being used in a build, this information is provided via the service definition in the codeship-services.yml file. Codeship will run the container any time it needs to generate the dockercfg, however the cost of this can be mitigated by locally caching credentials using a host volume mount defined in the service definition. The container image would be responsible for managing this cached folder, and checking the presence and validitity of credentials in the cache before returning them.


Here is a list of the standard dockercfg generators we support. If you don’t see your desired provider on this list, please reach out to support, or create it yourself.

Need More Help?

Get in touch if you need more help, or post on Stack Overflow using the tag #Codeship.