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0.3.3 • Public • Published

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A rule based 'linter' for Dockerfiles. The linter rules can be used to check file syntax as well as arbitrary semantic and best practice attributes determined by the rule file writer. The linter can also be used to check LABEL rules against docker images.

Table of Contents


  1. Change to directory where you have a Dockerfile
  2. run
  • Atomic CLI

        atomic run projectatomic/dockerfile-lint
        atomic run projectatomic/dockerfile-lint image <imageid>
  • Docker CLI

        docker run -it --rm --privileged -v $PWD:/root/ \
               projectatomic/dockerfile-lint \
               dockerfile_lint [-f Dockerfile]
        docker run -it --rm --privileged -v $PWD:/root/  \
               -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock \
               projectatomic/dockerfile-lint \
               dockerfile_lint  image <imageid>

By default, the linter runs in strict mode (errors and/or warnings result in non-zero return code). Run the command with -p or --permissive to run in permissive mode:

        atomic run projectatomic/dockerfile-lint -p

        docker run -it --rm --privileged -v $PWD:/root/ \
                           projectatomic/dockerfile-lint \
                           dockerfile_lint -p -f Dockerfile

Extending and Customizing: Rule Files

Rule files are written in yaml. See the example rule file sample_rules.yaml in the root folder of the project. The rules are implememented using regular expressions, run on one instruction of the dockerfile at a time. The rule file has 4 sections, a profile section, a general section, a line rule section and a required instruction section.

Profile Section

The profile section gives information about the rule file The information here is meant to help a user select a rule file that is appropriate for a given dockerfile. Example:

  name: "Default"
  description: "Default Profile. Checks basic syntax."

General Section

This section contains general syntax rules.

Rule Attributes

Here is an example of a line rule expressed in yaml:

    label: "is_latest_tag"
    regex: /latest/
    level: "info"
    inverse_rule: true
    message: "base image uses 'latest' tag"
    description: "using the 'latest' tag may cause unpredictable builds. It is recommended that a specific tag is used in the FROM line."

Line Rule Section

This section contains rules that must be run on a given instruction in the dockerfile. There is a rule to check the syntax of each instruction and zero or more rules for semantic checks. The example below shows rules to run against the FROM instruction:

      paramSyntaxRegex: /.+/
          label: "is_latest_tag"
          regex: /latest/
          level: "info"
          message: "base image uses 'latest' tag"
          description: "using the 'latest' tag may cause unpredictable builds. It is recommended that a specific tag is used in the FROM line."
            - ""
            - "#from"
          label: "no_tag"
          regex: /[:]/
          level: "warn"
          inverse_rule: true
          message: "No tag is used"
          description: "No tag is used"
            - ""
            - "#from"
          label: "from_not_redhat"
          regex: /rhel|redhat*/
          inverse_rule: true
          level: "error"
          message: "Base Image is not from Red Hat"
          description: "Base Image must be from Red Hat"

Note the (optional) inverse_rule attribute - this is just a convinient way to negate a regex rule - by default a rule is considered violated if it matches the regex pattern, but when 'inverse_rule' is set to 'true' the rule is violated if the line does not match the regex.

Required Instruction Section

This section includes a list of instructions that must exist in the dockerfile in order for it to be considered valid.

Library Usage

Node.js application use

Install from github from your application root directory:

npm install git+

Import and use the validator:

var fs = require('fs');
var rulefile = fs.readFileSync('/path/to/rulefile', 'utf8');
var DockerFileValidator = require('dockerfile_lint');
var validator = new DockeFileValidator(rulefile);
var result = validator.validate(dockerfile);

Command Line use

You can install the linter globally on your pc:

sudo npm install -g dockerfile_lint

Run the tool:

dockerfile_lint  -f /path/to/dockerfile  [-f /path/to/second/dockerfile]  [-r /path/to/rule/file]

A default rule file is used if no rule file is given.

You can also run the tool without installing it - just clone the source repository and run the tool from the bin directory :

git clone
cd dockerfile_lint/bin
chmod 555 dockerfile_lint
dockerfile_lint  -f /path/to/dockerfile  [ -r /path/to/rule/file]

To display results as JSON use the -j option:

dockerfile_lint  -j -f /path/to/dockerfile  [ -r /path/to/rule/file]

Command Help:

dockerfile_lint  -h


The linter is based on




npm i dockerfile_lint

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