You may wish to customize your build environment by doing things such as specifying a custom cache directory for images or sending your Docker Credentials to the registry endpoint. Here we will discuss these and other topics related to the build environment.
Apptainer will cache SIF container images generated from remote
sources, and any OCI/docker layers used to create them. The cache is
$HOME/.apptainer/cache by default. The location of the
cache can be changed by setting the
When you run builds as root, using
sudo, images will be cached in
root’s home at
/root and not your user’s home. Use the
to sudo to pass through the
variable, if you set it.
$ export APPTAINER_CACHEDIR=/tmp/user/temporary-cache # Running a build under your user account $ apptainer build --fakeroot myimage.sif mydef.def # Running a build with sudo, must use -E to pass env var $ sudo -E apptainer build myimage.sif mydef.def
If you change the value of
APPTAINER_CACHEDIR be sure to choose a
location that is:
Unique to you. Permissions are set on the cache so that private images cached for one user are not exposed to another. This means that
APPTAINER_CACHEDIRcannot be shared.
Located on a filesystem with sufficient space for the number and size of container images anticipated.
Located on a filesystem that supports atomic rename, if possible.
If you are not certain that your
APPTAINER_CACHEDIR filesystems support atomic rename, do not
run Apptainer in parallel using remote container URLs. Instead
apptainer pull to create a local SIF image, and then run
this SIF image in a parallel step. An alternative is to use the
--disable-cache option, but this will result in each
Apptainer instance independently fetching the container from the
remote source, into a temporary location.
Inside the cache location you will find separate directories for the different kinds of data that are cached:
$HOME/.apptainer/cache/blob $HOME/.apptainer/cache/library $HOME/.apptainer/cache/net $HOME/.apptainer/cache/oci-tmp $HOME/.apptainer/cache/shub
You can safely delete these directories, or content within them. Apptainer will re-create any directories and data that are needed in future runs.
You should not add any additional files, or modify files in the cache,
as this may cause checksum / integrity errors when you run or build
containers. If you experience problems use
apptainer cache clean
to reset the cache to a clean, empty state.
BoltDB Corruption Errors
The library that Apptainer uses to retrieve and cache Docker/OCI layers keeps track of them using a single file database. If your home directory is on a network filesystem which experiences interruptions, or you run out of storage, it is possible for this database to become inconsistent.
If you observe error messages when trying to run Apptainer that mention github.com/etcd-io/bbolt then you should remove the database file:
cache command for Apptainer allows you to view and clean up
your cache, without manually inspecting the cache directories.
If you have built images as root, directly or via
sudo, the cache
location for those builds is
/root/.apptainer. You will need to
sudo when running
cache clean or
cache list to manage
these cache entries.
To view a summary of cache usage, use
apptainer cache list:
$ apptainer cache list There are 4 container file(s) using 59.45 MB and 23 oci blob file(s) using 379.10 MB of space Total space used: 438.55 MB
To view detailed information, use
apptainer cache list -v:
$ apptainer cache list -v NAME DATE CREATED SIZE TYPE 0ed5a98249068fe0592edb 2020-05-27 12:57:22 192.21 MB blob 1d9cd1b99a7eca56d8f2be 2020-05-28 15:19:07 0.35 kB blob 219c332183ec3800bdfda4 2020-05-28 12:22:13 0.35 kB blob 2adae3950d4d0f11875568 2020-05-27 12:57:16 51.83 MB blob 376057ac6fa17f65688c56 2020-05-27 12:57:12 50.39 MB blob 496548a8c952b37bdf149a 2020-05-27 12:57:14 10.00 MB blob 5a63a0a859d859478f3046 2020-05-27 12:57:13 7.81 MB blob 5efaeecfa72afde779c946 2020-05-27 12:57:25 0.23 kB blob 6154df8ff9882934dc5bf2 2020-05-27 08:37:22 0.85 kB blob 70d0b3967cd8abe96c9719 2020-05-27 12:57:24 26.61 MB blob 8f5af4048c33630473b396 2020-05-28 15:19:07 0.57 kB blob 95c3f3755f37380edb2f8f 2020-05-28 14:07:20 2.48 kB blob 96878229af8adf91bcbf11 2020-05-28 14:07:20 0.81 kB blob af88fdb253aac46693de78 2020-05-28 12:22:13 0.58 kB blob bb94ffe723890b4d62d742 2020-05-27 12:57:23 6.15 MB blob c080bf936f6a1fdd2045e3 2020-05-27 12:57:25 1.61 kB blob cbdbe7a5bc2a134ca8ec91 2020-05-28 12:22:13 2.81 MB blob d51af753c3d3a984351448 2020-05-27 08:37:21 28.56 MB blob d9cbbca60e5f0fc028b13c 2020-05-28 15:19:06 760.85 kB blob db8816f445487e48e1d614 2020-05-27 12:57:25 1.93 MB blob fc878cd0a91c7bece56f66 2020-05-27 08:37:22 32.30 kB blob fee5db0ff82f7aa5ace634 2020-05-27 08:37:22 0.16 kB blob ff110406d51ca9ea722112 2020-05-27 12:57:25 7.78 kB blob sha256.02ee8bf9dc335c2 2020-05-29 13:45:14 28.11 MB library sha256.5111f59250ac94f 2020-05-28 13:14:39 782.34 kB library 747d2dbbaaee995098c979 2020-05-28 14:07:22 27.77 MB oci-tmp 9a839e63dad54c3a6d1834 2020-05-28 12:22:13 2.78 MB oci-tmp There are 4 container file(s) using 59.45 MB and 23 oci blob file(s) using 379.10 MB of space Total space used: 438.55 MB
All cache entries are named using a content hash, so that identical layers or images that are pulled from different URIs do not consume more space than needed.
blob are OCI/docker layers and manifests, that are
used to create SIF format images in the
oci-tmp cache. Other caches
are named for the source of the image e.g.
You can limit the cache list to a specific cache type with the
Cleaning the Cache
To reclaim space used by the Apptainer cache, use
apptainer cache clean will remove all cache entries,
after asking you to confirm:
$ apptainer cache clean This will delete everything in your cache (containers from all sources and OCI blobs). Hint: You can see exactly what would be deleted by canceling and using the --dry-run option. Do you want to continue? [N/y] n
-n option to see the files that would be
deleted, or the
-f option to clean without asking for
If you want to leave your most recent cached images in place, but remove
images that were cached longer ago, you can use the
option. E.g. to clean cache entries older than 30 days:
$ apptainer cache clean --days 30
To remove only a specific kind of cache entry, e.g. only library images,
$ apptainer cache clean --type library
When building a container, or pulling/running an Apptainer container
from a Docker/OCI source, a temporary working space is required. The
container is constructed in this temporary space before being packaged
into an Apptainer SIF image. Temporary space is also used when
running containers in unprivileged mode, and performing some operations
on filesystems that do not fully support
The location for temporary directories defaults to
Apptainer will also respect the environment variable
both of these locations can be overridden by setting the environment
The temporary directory used during a build must be on a filesystem that
has enough space to hold the entire container image, uncompressed,
including any temporary files that are created and later removed during
the build. You may need to set
APPTAINER_TMPDIR when building a
large container on a system which has a small
Remember to use
-E option to pass the value of
APPTAINER_TMPDIR to root’s environment when executing the
build command with
Many modern Linux distributions use an in-memory
/tmp when installed on a computer with a sufficient amount of
RAM. This may limit the size of container you can build, as temporary
/tmp share RAM with runniing programs etc. A
tmpfs also uses default mount options that can interfere with
some container builds.
APPTAINER_TMPDIR to a disk location, or disable the
/tmp mount on your system if you experience problems.
With Apptainer it is possible to build and run encrypted containers. The containers are decrypted at runtime entirely in kernel space, meaning that no intermediate decrypted data is ever present on disk or in memory. See encrypted containers for more details.
If a flag is represented by both a CLI option and an environment variable, and both are set, the CLI option will always take precedence. This is true for all environment variables except for
APPTAINER_BINDPATHwhich is combined with the
--bindoption, argument pair if both are present.
Environment variables overwrite default values in the CLI code
Any defaults in the CLI code are applied.
The following variables have defaults that can be customized by you via environment variables at runtime.
APPTAINER_DOCKER_LOGIN Used for the interactive login for Docker Hub.
APPTAINER_DOCKER_USERNAME Your Docker username.
APPTAINER_DOCKER_PASSWORD Your Docker password.
RUNSCRIPT_COMMAND Is not obtained from the environment, but is a
hard coded default (“/bin/bash”). This is the fallback command used in
the case that the docker image does not have a CMD or ENTRYPOINT.
TAG Is the default tag,
APPTAINER_NOHTTPS This is relevant if you want to use a registry
that doesn’t have https, and it speaks for itself. If you export the
APPTAINER_NOHTTPS you can force the software to not use
https when interacting with a Docker registry. This use case is
typically for use of a local registry.
APPTAINER_LIBRARY Used to specify the library to pull from. Default is set to our Cloud Library.
APPTAINER_REMOTE Used to build an image remotely (This does not require root). The default is set to false.
APPTAINER_ENCRYPTION_PASSPHRASE Used to pass a plaintext
passphrase to encrypt a container file system (with the
flag). The default is empty.
APPTAINER_ENCRYPTION_PEM_PATH Used to specify the location of a
public key to use for container encryption (with the
flag). The default is empty.