Docker MySQL Backup

Even with Docker you need to care about backups.. ;-)

As you usually mount all the persistent data into the container the files will actually be on your host. Thus, you can simply do the backup of these files. However, for MySQL/MariaDB I prefer having an actual SQL-dump. Therefore I just developed the Docker MySQL-Backup tool. You will find the sources at the corresponding GitHub repository.

How does Docker MySQL-Backup work?

The tool basically consists of two scripts:

The script /etc/cron.daily/docker-mysql-backup parses the output of the docker ps command to find running containers of the MySQL image. More precisely, it looks for containers of images that start with either \smysql or \smariadb. The actual filter command is

docker ps --format '{{.Names}}\t{{.Image}}'  | /bin/grep '\s\(mysql\|mariadb\)' | awk '{print $1}'

That of course only matches the original MySQL/MariaDB image names (if you have a good reason to derive an own version of that image please tell me!). For every matching $container the script will exec the following command:

docker exec "$container" \
	sh -c 'exec mysqldump --all-databases -uroot -p"$MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD"' \
	| ${GZIP} -9 > "${BACKUP_DIR}/${NOW}_complete.sql.gz"

With the following variables:

  • $BACKUP_DIR is a concatenation of $BACKUP_BASE (configured in /etc/default/docker-mysql-backup) and the container name,
  • $NOW is the current time stamp as date +"%Y-%m-%d_%H-%M".

Thus, the backups are compressed, organised in subdirectories of $BACKUP_BASE, and the SQL-dumps have a time stamp in their names. $BACKUP_BASE defaults to /srv/backup/mysql/, but can be configured in /etc/default/docker-mysql-backup.

Last but not least, the script also cleans the backups itself. It will keep the backups of the last 30 days and all backups of days that end with a 2. So you will keep the backups from the 2nd, the 12th, and the 22nd of every month.

As the script is stored in /etc/cron.daily/ the cron tool will execute the backup script on a daily basis.

Restore a dump

Restoring the dump is quite easy. Let’s assume your container’s name is $container and the dump to restore carries the time stamp $date. Then you just need to run:

docker exec "$container" -v "${BACKUP_BASE}/docker_${container}":/srv sh -c \
      'exec gunzip < /srv/${date}_complete.sql.gz | mysql -uroot -p"$MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD"'

This will mount the backup directory in /srv of the running container and then decompress and import the SQL-dump on the fly.


Manual installation through GitHub

Clone the Docker MySQL-Backup repository:

git clone

Copy the backup script to the cron.daily (most likely /etc/cron.daily/) directory on your system:

cp docker-mysql-backup/etc/cron.daily/docker-mysql-backup /etc/cron.daily/

Copy the configuration to /etc/default/:

cp docker-mysql-backup/etc/default/docker-mysql-backup /etc/default/

Installation from my Apt repository

If you’re running a Debian-based system you may want to use my apt-repository to install the Docker MySQL-Backup tool. In that case you just need to run

aptitude install bf-docker-mysql-backup

Afterwards, look into /etc/default/docker-mysql-backup for configuration options. This way, you’ll always stay up-to-date with bug fixes and new features :)

Automatically update Docker images

Automatically Update Docker Images
Automatically Update your Docker Images

Docker is cool. Jails tools into containers. That of course sounds clean and safe and beautiful etc. However, the tools are still buggy and subject to usual attacks, just as they were running on your main host! Thus, you still need to make sure your containers are up to date.

But how would you do that?

Approaches so far

docker-compose pull

On the one hand, let’s assume you’re using Docker Compose, then you can go to the directory containing the docker-compose.yml and call

docker-compose pull
docker-compose up -d --remove-orphans

However, this will just update the images used in that Docker Compose setup – all the other images on your system wouldn’t be updated. And you need to do that for all Docker Compose environments. And if you’re running 30 containers of the same image it would check 30 times for an update of that image – quite a waste or power and time..


On the other hand, you may use the dupdate tool, introduced earlier:

dupdate -s

It is able to go through all your images and update them, one after the other. That way, all the images on your system will be updated. However, dupdate doesn’t know about running containers. Thus, currently running tools and services won’t be restarted..

Better: Docker Auto-Update

Therefore, I just developed a tool called Docker Auto-Update that combines the benefits of both approaches. It first calls dupdate -s to update all your images and then iterates over a pre-defined list of Docker Compose environments to call a docker-compose up -d --remove-orphans.

The tool consists of three files:

  • /etc/cron.daily/docker-updater reads the configuration in /etc/default/docker-updater and does the regular update
  • /etc/default/docker-updater stores the configuration. You need to set the ENABLED variable to 1, otherwise the update tool won’t run.
  • /etc/docker-compose-auto-update.conf carries a list of Docker Compose environments. Add the paths to the docker-compose.yml files on your system, one per line

As it’s installed in /etc/cron.daily/, cron will take care of the job and update your images and containers on a daily basis. If your system is configured properly, cron will send an email to the systems administrator when it updates an image or restarts a container.

You see, no magic, but a very convenient workflow! :)



To install the Docker Auto-Update tool, you may clone the git repository at GitHub. Then,

  1. move the ./etc/cron.daily/docker-updater script to /etc/cron.daily/docker-updater
  2. move the ./etc/default/docker-updater config file to /etc/default/docker-updater
  3. update the setup in /etc/default/docker-updater – at least set ENABLED=1
  4. create a list of Docker Compose config files in /etc/docker-compose-auto-update.conf - one path to a docker-compose.yml per line.

Debian Package

If you’re using a Debian based system you may install the Docker-Tools through my apt-repository:

aptitude install bf-docker-tools

Afterwards, configure /etc/default/docker-updater and at least set ENABLED=1. This way, you’ll stay up-to-date with bug fixes etc.


The tool will update your images and containers automatically – very convenient but also dangerous! The new version of an image may break your tool or may require an updated configuration.

Therefore, I recommend to monitor your tools through Nagios/Icinga/check_mk or whatever. And study the mails generated by cron!

Rsync of ZFS data with a FreeBSD live system

Booting into FreeBSD
Booting into FreeBSD

Let’s assume you rendered your FreeBSD system unbootable.. Yeah, happens to the best, but how can you still copy the data stored on a ZFS to another machine? You probably just shouted RSYNC - but it’s not that easy.

You would need a FreeBSD live os (either on a USB pen drive or on a CD/DVD) and boot into that system. However, by default you do not have network, the ZPool is not mounted, there is no rsync and SSH is not running, and the live os is not writable, which brings another few issues…

This is a step-by-step how-to through all the obstacles. Just boot into your live os (get it from and go on with the following…

Get Networking

By default your live system does not have networking setup correctly. Call ifconfig to see if the network interface is up. If it’s not you can bring it up using:

ifconfig em0 up

(assuming your inteface is called em0)

If it is up, you need to configure it. When you’re using a DHCP server you can just ask for an IP address using:

dhclient em0

Otherwise you need to configure the addresses manually:

ifconfig em0 inet netmask

Afterwards you should be able to ping other machines, such as


Mount the ZPool

Your ZPool won’t be mounted by default; you need to do it manually. To list all pools available on that machine just call:

zpool import

This searches through the devices in /dev to discover ZPools. You may specify a different directory with -d (see man page for zpool). To actually import and mount your ZPool you need to provide its name, for example:

zpool import -f -o altroot=/mnt zroot

This will import the ZPool zroot. Moreover, the argument -o altroot=/mnt will mount it to /mnt instead of / and the -f will mount it even if it may be in use by another system (here we’re sure it isn’t, aren’t we?).

Create some Writeable Directories

The next problem is, that you do not have permissions to write to /etc, which you need to e.g. create SSH host keys etc. However, that’s also not a big issue as we have the unionfs filesystem! :)

UnionFS will mount a directory as an overlay over another directory. Let’s assume you have some space in $SPACE (maybe in the ZPool that you just mounted or on another USB drive), then you can just create a few directories:

mkdir $SPACE/{etc,var,usr,tmp}

and mount it as unionfs to the root’s equivalents:

mount_unionfs $SPACE/etc /etc
mount_unionfs $SPACE/var /var
mount_unionfs $SPACE/usr /usr
mount_unionfs $SPACE/tmp /tmp

Now we can write to /etc, while the actual changes will be written to $SPACE/etc! Isn’t that a great invention?

Start the SSH service

Now that /etc is writable we can start caring about the SSH daemon. First, we need to configure it to allow root to login. Add the follwing line to the /etc/ssh/sshd_config:

PermitRootLogin yes

Then, we can start the ssh daemon using:

service sshd onestart

It will automatically create host keys and all the necessary things for a first start of SSH. If that was successful, port 22 should now be open:

# sockstat -4 -l
root     sshd       938   4  tcp4   *:22                  *:*
root     syslogd    542   7  udp4   *:514                 *:*

Set root Password

To be able to login you of course need to set a root password:

passwd root

Aftwerwards, you should be able to login through SSH from any other machine. Go ahaed and give it a try!

Install and Run rsync

Almost there, but the freeBSD live image doesn’t come with rsync installed. So we need to do it manually:

pkg install rsync

This will first tell us that not even pkg is installed, but answering the question with y it will automatically install itself. And as everything is mounted as UnionFS, the stuff will actually be installed to $SPACE/... instead of /. However, you should now be able to do the rsync job from where ever you want :)

Sector 32 is already in use by the program `FlexNet'

Just tried to install Grub on a debootstrap‘ed hard drive, but Grub complained:

Installing for i386-pc platform.
grub-install: warning: Sector 32 is already in use by the program 'FlexNet'; avoiding it.  This software may cause boot or other problems in future.  Please ask its authors not to store data in the boot track.
DRM is bugging us
DRM is bugging us! Image by Brendan Mruk and Matt Lee, shared under CC BY-SA 3.0

Never heard of that FlexNet thing, but according to Wikipedia it’s a software license manager. And we all know how this whole DRM thing just bugs us.. So it bugged me because the new system wouldn’t boot properly.. Other people having similar problems.

However, it seems impossible to force grub overriding this sector, but you may wipe it manually. In my case sector 32 was infected by DRM, so I did the following:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1 seek=32

If that’s done Grub installs like a charm, the system booted again, and the admin was happy that another DRM thing died :)

The figure I used in this article was made by Brendan Mruk and Matt Lee. They share it as CC BY-SA 3.0.

Handy Docker Tools

Handy Docker Tools
Docker Tools

As I’m working with Docker quite intensively it was about time to develop some tools that help me managing different tasks. Some of them have already been existing as functions in my environment or something, but now they are assembled in a git repository at GitHub.

The toolbox currently consists of the following tools:.

dclean cleans your setup

The Docker-Clean tool dclean helps getting rid of old, exited Docker containers. Sometimes I forget the --rm flag during tests, and when I realise it there are already hundreds of orhpaned containers hanging around.. Running dclean without arguments removes all of them quickly.

Additionally, the dclean tool accepts a -i flag which will clean the images. It will prune all dangling images. Dangling images are orphaned and usually not needed anymore. Thus, dclean -i will remove them.

denter gets you into a containers

The Docker-Enter tool denter beames you into a running Docker container. Just provide the container’s name or CID as an argument to get a /bin/bash inside the container. Internally, denter will just call

docker exec -it "$NAME" "$EXEC"

with $EXEC being /bin/bash by default. So there is no magic, it’s just a shortcut.. You may overwrite the program to be executed by providing it as a second argument. That means,

denter SOMEID ps -ef

will execute ps -ef in the container with the id SOMEID.

dip shows IP addresses

The Docker-IP tool dip shows the IP addresses of running containers. Without arguments it will print the IP addresses, names, and container ids of all running containers. If your interested in the IP address of a specific container you may pass that container’s CID as an argument with -c, just like:

dip -c SOMEID

This will show the IP of the container with id SOMEID.

dkill stops all running containers

The Docker-Kill tool dkill is able to kill all running containers. It doesn’t care what’s in the container, it will just iterate over the docker ps list to stop all running containers.

As this is quite dangerous, it requires a -f flag to actually kill the containers. You may afterwards run the dclean tool from above to get rid of the cadavers..

dupdate updates images

The Docker-Update tool dupdate helps you staying up-to-date. It will iterate over all your images and tries to pull new versions of that image from the Docker registry (or your own registry, if you have one). By default, it will echo the images that have been updates and tells you which images cannot be found (anymore) on the registry. You may pass the -v to dupdate to enable verbose mode and also get a report for images that do not have a newer version at the registry. This way, you can make sure that all images are checked. Similarly, you can pass -s to enable silent mode and suppress messages about images that cannot be found at the registry.

You may also want to look at the Docker-Update tool?


Installing the tools is very easy: Just clone the Docker-Tools git repository at GitHub. If you’re using a Debian based system you may also install the tools through my apt-repository:

aptitude install bf-docker-tools

This way, you’ll stay up-to-date with bug fixes etc.

Martin Scharm

stuff. just for the records.

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