Using Yocto Project for Docker FROM scratch

Yocto and Docker

Yocto Project is an amazing way to build a Linux System from the ground up. It uses an amazing build system that can build and install practically any application.

Docker is an amazing tool for running applications. There are many parts to docker, but the one that I would like to focus on is the concept of a docker image. There are standard images created for all the major distributions and its easy to create your own. The image contains the files needed for your application and all the dependencies for your application.

TLDR Pseudo Code

For people well versed in these two tools I will first explain in pseudo code what I did, and then I will dive into the specific things I did.

# Added this configuration to local.conf
MACHINE = "genericx86-64"
IMAGE_FSTYPES += "tar.xz"

# pokyuser@crops/poky after oe-init-build-env
bitbake core-image-minimal

# ngenetzky@hostpc
docker import \
    build/tmp/deploy/images/genericx86-64/core-image-minimal-genericx86-64.tar.xz \
docker run -it \
    ngenetzky/core-image-minimal:v1 \

Here are a few useful resources for the code.

Building images for Host PC

Poky contains everything needed to build simple images. It supports MACHINE=genericx86-64, which will be able to run on my host PC, which is a Intel Nuc Skull Canyon . Note the meta-intel has improved support, and might be considered in the future. I have a few commits on meta-ngenetzky that show how I configured the build. First I will build a standard image from Poky, bitbake core-image-full-cmdline.

Building a simple python-flask application image

I have used the simple-server-python as an example before. I created a simple recipe ( that will install the python module and ensure that runtime dependencies are handled. Then we can add it to the image from local.conf.

# local.conf
IMAGE_INSTALL_append = " simple-server-python "

OK, next I will create a docker image from this ‘core-image-full-cmdline’. Then I will create a Dockerfile to allow for additional customizations, such as setting the CMD or entrypoint. Note that this image does not support package management (apt,dpkg,opkg).

# Dockerfile
FROM ngenetzky/core-image-full-cmdline:v2
CMD ["python","/usr/bin/"]

Compare Docker Images

I figured the size of each of the images might be of interest. The ‘resin/nuc-python’ shows the size of the image built from the standard Dockerfile . Adding the application only added ~14 MB to the image (v1->v2). It’s amazing that the core-image-minimal weighs in at a mere 7.63MB.

└─> docker image ls
REPOSITORY                              TAG     CREATED            SIZE
resin/nuc-python--simple-server-python  latest  8 seconds ago      661MB
ngenetzky/simple-server-python          v2      22 minutes ago     94MB
ngenetzky/core-image-full-cmdline       v2      26 minutes ago     94MB
ngenetzky/core-image-full-cmdline       v1      About an hour ago  79.3MB
ngenetzky/core-image-minimal            v1      4 hours ago        7.63MB


With minimal effort I am able to make small, highly customizable docker images built completely from source. Then an application was added with only a few lines of code. Next time I plan to investigate whether this approach is viable to use with the platform.

Nathan Genetzky
Software Engineer


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