Project Page: github/docker-registry-setup

Hosting a private Docker registry is very useful. This article details how to setup a Docker registry running inside AWS which is secured by client certificates for authentication.

Server Setup

S3 Registry Bucket

Create a new S3 bucket. This will be the backing data-store for the registry.


Create a new AWS role Docker-Registry for the instance.

Grant S3 access to the registry bucket with a custom role policy (replace REGISTRY_BUCKET_NAME with your bucket name):

    "Statement": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
            "Resource": [


Create a new Ubuntu 14.04 instance on AWS (Micro is sufficient). Set the instance role to Docker-Registry.

Amazon Linux is not recommended as it installs an out-dated version of Docker

For the security group open port 22 (ssh) and 443 (https)


Install Docker as per docs

curl -sSL | sh
service docker start
usermod -aG docker ubuntu

Install AWS-cli

apt-get install -q -y python-pip
pip install awscli


Before getting started with the Docker containers, some certificates are needed.

Server Certificate

Generate a self-signed cert for the server (replace HOST= value with desired server name)


mkdir -p /opt/registry/
cd /opt/registry/
mkdir -p certs
openssl req -nodes -newkey rsa:8192 -days 365 -x509 -keyout certs/server.key -out certs/server.cert \
  -batch -subj "/commonName=$HOST"
chmod 600 certs/server.key

Client CA Certificate

A self-signed CA cert is used for signing all client certs. The nginx proxy will be configured to use the CA cert to determine trust.

cd /opt/registry/
openssl req -nodes -newkey rsa:8192 -days 365 -x509 -keyout client-ca.key -out certs/client-ca.cert \
  -batch -subj "/commonName=docker-registry-client-ca"
chmod 600 client-ca.key

Generate CA-Signed Client Cert

Any time a new client cert is needed it can be generated with the script below. This cert is signed with the client CA cert so the server will automatically trust it.

To verify a client cert manually:

openssl verify -CAfile /opt/registry/certs/client-ca.cert client.cert


Config File

Customize a config.yml for the registry at /opt/registry/config.yml.


Hint: you can use the following to generate a random secret:

xxd -l 16 -p /dev/random


Create a Docker container for the registry

docker run -d --restart=always --name registry \
  -v /opt/registry/config.yml:/etc/docker/registry/config.yml \


Config File

Create /opt/registry/nginx-registry.conf



Create a docker container for nginx

docker run -d --restart=always --name nginx \
  --publish 443:443 \
  --link registry:registry \
  -v /opt/registry/nginx-registry.conf:/etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf \
  -v /opt/registry/certs:/etc/nginx/ssl \


Verify that both components are running and connected correctly

Requires that has been run to generate a client cert

curl -v -k --cert ./client.cert --key ./client.key https://localhost:443/v2/

Docker Client Configuration

Client Setup Script

To configure your development machines for access to the registry

Run the following on the registry server to generate a client configuration script. Copy the script output to the client by copy-paste or any other method and run it as root.

AWS - EC2 Client

This section will assist in setting up an AWS EC2 instance which is ready to use the registry at boot.

Client Config Bucket

Create a new S3 bucket for the client configuration files

Instance Role

Create an AWS role Docker-Instance and give it a custom policy with read access to the config bucket. (Replace CONFIG_BUCKET_NAME with the bucket name)

    "Statement": [
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
                "s3:ListBucket", "s3:GetObject"
            "Resource": [

Create Instance

Set the role to the Docker-Instance created above.

Use the following script to generate the user-data (set under Advanced Details):

(Replace CONFIG_BUCKET_NAME with the bucket name)

Boot the instance


Usage is described in detail here

For example:

docker pull ubuntu
docker tag ubuntu myregistrydomain:443/ubuntu
docker push myregistrydomain:443/ubuntu
docker pull myregistrydomain:443/ubuntu

To force the Docker client to pull the latest versions of all container images use the following (from here)

docker images | awk '/^REPOSITORY|\<none\>/ {next} {print $1}' | xargs -n 1 docker pull