Quick-and-Dirty Docker Remote API Configuration


During some testing I did recently, I wanted to open the docker service for remote access.

I spent quite some time browsing between multiple official documentation and blog posts until I nailed it down, so I though I would sum it up for you for easy implementation, should you choose to use it…

First and foremost, A word of caution…

The setup I will present is in no way suitable for production! In fact, some might say that this kind of setup shouldn’t be used in a lab / test environment even…


  • I’m basically allowing remote access to the docker service api from any machine that has network access to the docker host
  • In addition, I’m also completely disabling the Linux firewall service

Any Linux admin will tell you that these are 2 big mistakes, and they are right. So why am I doing it?

I wanted to make sure I have no obstacles in the way and verify I’m nailing it down. Once I nailed it I will start configuring the overall system.


Run the below commands to open connection to your docker host on port 4243:

# All the configuration is done with root user

# Disable the firewalld service:
systemctl disable firewalld
systemctl stop firewalld

# Configure the docker service
sudo mkdir -p /etc/systemd/system/docker.service.d
cd /etc/systemd/system/docker.service.d
vi docker.conf

# add the following lines to docker.conf:
ExecStart=/usr/bin/dockerd -H unix:///var/run/docker.sock -H tcp://
# save the file (using :wq)

# reload docker with new config and verify service is running
systemctl daemon-reload
systemctl restart docker
systemctl status docker

# verify service is opened on port 4243 locally
docker -H tcp:// ps # expected to get a list of running containers

# verify remotely, from a different host (assuming network and DNS are working between hosts)

curl -X GET http://docker_host_fqdn:4243/images/json # you should see a JSON response with a list of docker images on your docker host

What’s going on here? Keep on reading…

My Environment

  • CentOS 7.4
  • Docker version 17.09.1-ce, build 19e2cf6

The problem

Everywhere I looked discussed the use of the daemon.json file in order to configure the docker service.

However, this creates a conflict between Linux systems running systemd and the docker config file daemon.json, and getting to the exact config that works took some try-and-error

The solution

  • Disable firewall to eliminate network-related challenges
  • Add access via port 4243 to the remote api

Next Steps

  • Allow access on specific network interface
  • Enable firewall and add 4243 port as exception

I’m sure there are other (and possibly better) ways to accomplish the same goal. what’s yours?

Further reading materials



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