Docker Daemon for 32-bit architectures

Docker Daemon for 32-bit architectures



This post provides the steps required to build the Docker daemon for 32-bit Linux platforms.


Software today is driven by speed – move fast, learn fast, and deliver fast! Nirmata, my company, enables software developers to move fast by making it super easy to deploy, operate, and optimize their containerized applications. Nirmata builds on Docker, the most popular container technology around. Docker is commonly used in x64 architectures and with popular Linux distros’ like Ubuntu, RHEL, CoreOS. However, there continues to be a steady demand for deploying container on other platforms and architectures like Yocto, Kali Linux and 32-bit architectures.

At Nirmata, we are working with a customer in the IoT space who required a 32-bit Docker daemon. Although Docker continues to add support for many platforms and architectures, it does not seem like official 32-bit support is coming anytime soon (issue #136). There is an existing blog post, which helps build Docker on 32-bit platform, but a lot has changed in Docker world since then.

In this post, I have documented the steps I used to build and use Docker on 32-bit platforms:


Docker docs provide a well-detailed instructions set for setting up a dev environment, however, it doesn’t provide any instructions to build Docker daemon for 32-bit platform.

Docker provides a Dockerfile in the root directory of its Git repository for building a Docker dev environment. The Dockerfile builds a base image; which has all the tools and binaries required for building Docker daemon binary. For building a daemon compatible with 32-bit, one can follow the same steps what Docker doc suggests, with the following changes to the Dockerfile.

  • Use 32-bit Ubuntu image as the base image
  • Use clang-3.6 version
  • Install Go for 32 bit platform

Note: These steps are tested on Ubuntu virtual machine with at least 2GB memory, but should work the same on any x86_64 Linux distribution.

Detailed Steps

Here are the complete steps to build a 32-bit Docker daemon from  Docker Github branch:

  1. Install git
$ sudo apt-get install git-all
  1. Install make
$ sudo apt-get install build-essential
  1. To install Docker, follow this tutorial:

  1. Get Docker Source Code
$ git clone
$ cd docker/
$ mv Dockerfile Dockerfile.backup
  1. wget the Dockerfile to create 32-bit container
$ wget
  1. We can now build the Docker build environment. This will create a Docker-dev image with all the required tools. Running this command for the first time will take sometime.
$ make build
  1. Once the command completes, run ‘Docker images’ and it should show a Docker-dev image. This image has all the tools and binaries required to build Docker daemon. Now, we can build a 32-bit Docker daemon using docker-dev container image
$ make binary

A docker binary for 32-bit platform will be generated in directory – “bundles/latest/binary”.

A 32-bit Docker daemon will only support 32-bit container images. There are a few 32-bit images available on Docker hub. If you are using Go, you can also create a static container with a 32-bit binary to run images on 32-bit Linux Platform.


It’s a great time to be a software developer, and at Nirmata we are excited to be building a platform that empowers developers by allowing them to focus on their applications, while we help take care of the heavy lifting for applications operations and management.

I hope this brief post helps you with your software adventures! For any further questions feel free to reach out to me at:

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8 thoughts on "Docker Daemon for 32-bit architectures"

  • Ferri

    March 27, 2016

    Came from stackoverflow and read about this, since my old laptop doesn’t support 64 bit, so i still find a way to run docker, luckily i found this post


  • Rai Hann

    April 27, 2016

    Is there a way to build the 32-bit binaries without ‘SSE’ instructions being built into the resulting executables ? When GOARCH=387 is exported, the resulting binaries are 64-bit ELF.

    • Prateek Gogia

      April 27, 2016

      Hi Rai

      Are you setting GOARCH in the Dockerfile? I tried setting this option as GO386=387, which is specified in GoLang Docs and it build a 32-bit binary. Which version of Docker are you trying to build ?


      • Check Broken Links

        April 29, 2016

        Hi Prateek,

        I’m trying to build docker 1.12 for i586. The binaries that your Dockerfile creates do not work on my target. I did try GOARCH=386 , GO386=387 but setting GOARCH=386 breaks the docker build (reports no buildible binaries in the docker vendor source tree.).

  • Sudhir

    February 16, 2017

    Getting below error when executing make build-
    hack/make/.detect-daemon-osarch: line 11: docker: command not found
    hack/make/.detect-daemon-osarch: line 11: docker: command not found
    hack/make/.detect-daemon-osarch: line 11: docker: command not found
    hack/make/.detect-daemon-osarch: line 11: docker: command not found
    docker build -t “docker-dev:master” -f “Dockerfile” .
    /bin/sh: 1: docker: not found
    Makefile:96: recipe for target ‘build’ failed
    make: *** [build] Error 127

    not sure why. can you help on this?

    • Rahul

      March 16, 2017

      it is necessary to add the user to the docker group
      sudo usermod -aG docker $(whoami)

  • Rahul

    March 17, 2017

    I do not have any previous experience in Go.Can anyone please help me with the error as it is not able to find any package.
    Building: bundles/17.05.0-dev/binary-client/docker-17.05.0-dev
    cli/command/plugin/upgrade.go:4:2: cannot find package “context” in any of:
    /usr/local/go/src/context (from $GOROOT)
    /go/src/context (from $GOPATH)
    pkg/jsonmessage/jsonmessage.go:11:2: cannot find package “” in any of:
    /usr/local/go/src/ (from $GOROOT)
    /go/src/ (from $GOPATH)

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