Dock a Snap…

I recently had to help setting up an image build environment for UbuntuCore images for someone who only allows docker as infrastructure.

When wanting to build an image from a blessed model assertion for i.e. the pi2, pi3 or dragonboard you need to use the “snap known” command (see below for the full syntax) to download the canonical signed assertion. The snap command requires snapd to run inside your container. To build images we need to use ubuntu-image which is also provided as a snap, so we not only want snapd to run for the “snap” command, but we also want the container to be able to execute snaps we install. After quite a bit back and forth and disabling quite a few security features inside the container setup, i came up with which is a simple build script for setting up a container that can execute snaps.

I hope people needing to use docker and wanting to use snaps inside containers find this helpful … pull requests for improvements of the script or documentation will be happily reviewed on github.

Here the of the tree:

Create and run a docker container that is able to run snap packages

This script allows you to create docker containers that are able to run and
build snap packages.

WARNING NOTE: This will create a container with security options disabled, this is an unsupported setup, if you have multiple snap packages inside the same container they will be able to break out of the confinement and see each others data and processes. Use this setup to build or test single snap packages but do not rely on security inside the container.

usage: [options]

  -c|--containername (default: snappy)
  -i|--imagename (default: snapd)


Creating a container with defaults (image: snapd, container name: snappy):

$ sudo apt install
$ ./

If you want to create subsequent other containers using the same image, use the –containername option with a subsequent run of the ./ script.

$ ./ -c second
$ sudo docker exec second snap list
Name Version Rev Developer Notes
core 16-2.26.4 2092 canonical -

Installing and running a snap package:

This will install the htop snap and will show the running processes inside the container after connecting the right snap interfaces.

$ sudo docker exec snappy snap install htop
htop 2.0.2 from 'maxiberta' installed
$ sudo docker exec snappy snap connect htop:process-control
$ sudo docker exec snappy snap connect htop:system-observe
$ sudo docker exec -ti snappy htop

Building snaps using the snapcraft snap package (using the default “snappy” name):

Install some required debs, install the snapcraft snap package to build snap packages, pull some remote branch and build a snap from it using the snapcraft command.

$ sudo docker exec snappy sh -c 'apt -y install git'
$ sudo docker exec snappy snap install snapcraft --edge --classic
$ sudo docker exec snappy sh -c 'git clone'
$ sudo docker exec snappy sh -c 'cd beaglebone-gadget; cp cross* snapcraft.yaml; TMPDIR=. snapcraft'
./scripts/config_whitelist.txt . 1>&2
Staging uboot
Priming uboot
Snapping 'bbb' |
Snapped bbb_16-0.1_armhf.snap

Building an UbuntuCore image for a RaspberryPi3:

Install some debs required to work around a bug in the ubuntu-image classic snap, install ubuntu-image, retrieve the model assertion for a pi3 image using the “snap known” command and build the image using ubuntu-image.

$ sudo docker exec snappy sh -c 'apt -y install libparted dosfstools' # work around bug 1694982
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Setting up libparted2:amd64 (3.2-17) ...
Setting up dosfstools (4.0-2ubuntu1) ...
Processing triggers for libc-bin (2.24-9ubuntu2) ...
$ sudo docker exec snappy snap install ubuntu-image --classic --edge
ubuntu-image (edge) 1.0+snap3 from 'canonical' installed
$ sudo docker exec snappy sh -c "snap known --remote model series=16 model=pi3 brand-id=canonical >pi3.model"
$ sudo docker exec snappy ubuntu-image pi3.model
Fetching core
Fetching pi2-kernel
Fetching pi3
$ sudo docker exec snappy sh -c 'ls *.img'


  1. Shannon · June 6

    This is exactly what I need, but when I’m using your build script I get the error message
    “docker: Error: image library/snapd:latest not found.”.
    from the line:
    sudo docker run –name=snappy -ti –tmpfs /run –tmpfs /run/lock –tmpfs /tmp –cap-add SYS_ADMIN –device=/dev/fuse –security-opt apparmor:unconfined –security-opt seccomp:unconfined -v /sys/fs/cgroup:/sys/fs/cgroup:ro -d snapd

    Looks like your trying to connect to a snapd image, that I don’t have. I tried changing it to ubuntu, but that give me a time out.

    • ograblog · June 7

      did you actually run the whole script ? it creates the image first using “docker build” with a generated Dockerfile.
      also note that i updated the code a bit over the last days, make sure to grab the latest version of the script.

  2. Shannon · June 7

    I grabbed the latest script, and it worked. The other day it didn’t do the docker build. I have also changed mine to use Ubuntu 16.04 as it’s an LTS release, and it worked as well. now to learn some more about docker. Thank you.

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