Using repo2docker as part of your Continuous Integration#

We’ve created for you the continuous-build repository so that you can push a Docker container to Docker Hub directly from a GitHub repository that has a Jupyter notebook. Here are instructions to do this.

Getting Started#

Today you will be doing the following:

  1. Fork and clone the continuous-build GitHub repository to obtain the hidden .circleci folder.

  2. Creating an image repository on Docker Hub

  3. Connecting your repository to CircleCI

  4. Push, commit, or create a pull request to trigger a build.

You don’t need to install any dependencies on your host to build the container, it will be done on a continuous integration server, and the container built and available to you to pull from Docker Hub.

Step 1. Clone the Repository#

First, fork the continuous-build GitHub repository to your account, and clone the branch via either:

git clone<username>/continuous-build


git clone<username>/continuous-build.git

Step 2. Choose your Configuration#

The hidden folder .circleci/config.yml has instructions for CircleCI to automatically discover and build your repo2docker Jupyter notebook container. The default template provided in the repository in this folder will do the most basic steps, including:

  1. Clone the repository with the notebook that you specify

  2. Build a Docker image

  3. Push the build image to Docker Hub

This repository aims to provide templates for your use. If you have a request for a new template, please let us know. We will add templates as they are requested to do additional tasks like test containers, run nbconvert, etc.

Thus, if I have a repository named myrepo and I want to use the default configuration on circleCI, I would copy it there from the continuous-build folder. In the example below, I’m creating a new folder called “myrepo” and then copying the entire folder there:

mkdir -p myrepo
cp -R continuous-build/.circleci myrepo/

You would then logically create a GitHub repository in the “myrepo” folder, add the circleci configuration folder, and continue on to the next steps.

cd myrepo
git init
git add .circleci

Step 3. Docker Hub#

Go to Docker Hub, log in, and click the big blue button that says “create repository” (not an automated build). Choose an organization and name that you like (in the traditional format <ORG>/<NAME>), and remember it! We will be adding it, along with your Docker credentials, to be encrypted CircleCI environment variables.

Step 4. Connect to CircleCI#

If you navigate to the main app page you should be able to click “Add Projects” and then select your repository. If you don’t see it on the list, then select a different organization in the top left. Once you find the repository, you can click the button to “Start Building” and accept the defaults.

Before you push or trigger a build, let’s set up the following environment variables. Also in the project interface on CirleCi, click the gears icon next to the project name to get to your project settings. Under settings, click on the “Environment Variables” tab. In this section, you want to define the following:

  1. CONTAINER_NAME should be the name of the Docker Hub repository you just created.

  2. DOCKER_TAG is the tag you want to use. If not defined, will use first 10 characters of commit.

  3. DOCKER_USER and DOCKER_PASS should be your credentials (to allowing pushing)

  4. REPO_NAME should be the full GitHub url (or other) of the repository with the notebook. This doesn’t have to coincide with the repository you are using to do the build (e.g., “myrepo” in our example).

If you don’t define the CONTAINER_NAME it will default to be the repository where it is building from, which you should only do if the Docker Hub repository is named equivalently. If you don’t define either of the variables from step 3. for the Docker credentials, your image will build but not be pushed to Docker Hub. Finally, if you don’t define the REPO_NAME it will again use the name of the repository defined for the CONTAINER_NAME.

Step 5. Push Away, Merrill!#

Once the environment variables are set up, you can push or issue a pull request to see circle build the workflow. Remember that you only need the .circleci/config.yml and not any other files in the repository. If your notebook is hosted in the same repository, you might want to add these, along with your requirements.txt, etc.


By default, new builds on CircleCI will not build for pull requests and you can change this default in the settings. You can easily add filters (or other criteria and actions) to be performed during or after the build by editing the .circleci/config.yml file in your repository.

Step 5. Use Your Container!#

You should then be able to pull your new container, and run it! Here is an example:

docker pull <ORG>/<NAME>
docker run -it --name repo2docker -p 8888:8888 <ORG>/<NAME> jupyter notebook --ip

For a pre-built working example, try the following:

docker pull vanessa/repo2docker
docker run -it --name repo2docker -p 8888:8888 vanessa/repo2docker jupyter notebook --ip

You can then enter the url and token provided in the browser to access your notebook. When you are done and need to stop and remove the container:

docker stop repo2docker
docker rm repo2docker