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Ajeet Raina Ajeet Singh Raina is a former Docker Captain, Community Leader and Arm Ambassador. He is a founder of Collabnix blogging site and has authored more than 570+ blogs on Docker, Kubernetes and Cloud-Native Technology. He runs a community Slack of 8900+ members and discord server close to 2200+ members. You can follow him on Twitter(@ajeetsraina).

Understanding Distributed Workers in BuildKit

2 min read

In the world of containerization, Docker has become synonymous with efficient packaging and deployment. One of the key components that contributes to the speed and scalability of Docker builds is BuildKit, an advanced toolkit for building container images. Within BuildKit, the concept of distributed workers emerges as a powerful strategy to further optimize the building process. In this blog post, we’ll explore what distributed workers are, why they matter, and how you can leverage them to supercharge your Docker image builds.

Understanding Distributed Workers in BuildKit

Docker BuildKit is a modern build backend for Docker which introduces several new features to improve the image building process. One of these features is “Distributed workers,” which refers to the ability of BuildKit to parallelize tasks across multiple workers during the build process.

Distributed workers in Docker BuildKit can speed up builds by dividing the workload of building an image among different workers, potentially running on separate machines or environments. This facilitates builds that have large or complex layer graphs by exploiting parallelism to improve build performance.

This distributed approach brings several advantages to the table:

1. Parallelism:

Distributed workers enable parallel execution of build steps. Instead of running each step sequentially, multiple steps can be processed simultaneously, significantly reducing build times.

2. Resource Utilization:

By distributing the build workload, you can make more efficient use of available resources. Multiple machines can contribute their computing power to handle different parts of the build process concurrently.

3. Scalability:

As your projects grow, so do the demands on your build infrastructure. Distributed workers allow you to scale your build capacity horizontally, adding more machines to your build network to handle increased workloads.

Setting Up Distributed Workers

To take advantage of distributed workers in BuildKit, follow these general steps:

1. Enable BuildKit:

Ensure that you have BuildKit enabled in your Docker configuration. You can do this by setting the DOCKER_BUILDKIT environment variable to 1.

export DOCKER_BUILDKIT=1

2. Configure Workers:

Specify the number of distributed workers and their configurations. You can use the DOCKER_BUILDKIT environment variable or the –secret and –ssh options to pass configuration details.

3. Build with BuildKit:

When initiating a build, use the –progress=plain option to view the progress and details of the distributed build.

docker build --progress=plain -t myapp .

Example: Docker Compose with Distributed Workers

Consider the following docker-compose.yml file for a simple Node.js application:

version: '3.8'

services:
  app:
    build:
      context: .
      target: development
    ports:
      - "3000:3000"

To enable distributed workers, add the following build configuration to your Dockerfile:

# Use a specific target for development stage
FROM node:14 AS development
WORKDIR /app
COPY package*.json ./
RUN npm install
COPY . .


# Production stage, with only necessary artifacts


FROM node:14 AS production
WORKDIR /app
COPY --from=development /app/node_modules ./node_modules
COPY --from=development /app .


# Specify the target for distributed workers


FROM production as distribute

Now, initiate the build using Docker Compose:

docker-compose build --progress=plain

This example demonstrates how to set up distributed workers within a Docker Compose file, taking advantage of BuildKit’s capabilities to parallelize the build process.

Conclusion

Distributed workers in BuildKit open up new horizons for optimizing Docker image builds. By embracing parallelism, maximizing resource utilization, and easily scaling your build infrastructure, you can significantly enhance the efficiency of your development workflows. Experiment with distributed workers in your projects, monitor the impact on build times, and unlock the full potential of BuildKit for your containerized applications. As your projects grow in complexity and scale, the benefits of distributed workers will become even more pronounced, ensuring that your Docker builds remain fast, reliable, and ready for the challenges of modern development.

Please note: This content was created using Docker AI. You can give it a try https://www.docker.com/ai-early-access-program/get-started/

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Ajeet Raina Ajeet Singh Raina is a former Docker Captain, Community Leader and Arm Ambassador. He is a founder of Collabnix blogging site and has authored more than 570+ blogs on Docker, Kubernetes and Cloud-Native Technology. He runs a community Slack of 8900+ members and discord server close to 2200+ members. You can follow him on Twitter(@ajeetsraina).

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