I want to manually download a Docker Image from Docker Hub. More specifically, I want to download a Docker Image from Docker Hub on a machine in a restricted environment which does not (and cannot) have the Docker client software installed. I would have thought that this would be possible using the official API, but this does not appear to be the case - see the following discussion:

Is it really the case that the API doesn't support downloading images? Is there a way to work around this?


I came across the following ServerFault post:

The accepted solution uses the docker save command, which doesn't help in my situation. But another solution posted there cites the following StackOverflow post:

One of the solutions there refers to a command-line tool called docker-registry-debug which, among other things, can generate a curl command for downloading an image. Here is what I got:

user@host:~$ docker-registry-debug curlme docker ubuntu

# Reading user/passwd from env var "USER_CREDS"
# No password provided, disabling auth
# Getting token from https://index.docker.io
# Got registry endpoint from the server: https://registry-1.docker.io
# Got token: signature=1234567890abcde1234567890abcde1234567890,repository="library/docker",access=read
curl -i --location-trusted -I -X GET -H "Authorization: Token signature=1234567890abcde1234567890abcde1234567890,repository="library/docker",access=read" https://registry-1.docker.io/v1/images/ubuntu/layer

user@host:~$ curl \
-i --location-trusted -I -X GET \
-H "Authorization: Token signature=1234567890abcde1234567890abcde1234567890,repository="library/docker",access=read" 

Server: gunicorn/18.0
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2017 01:00:00 GMT
Expires: -1
Content-Type: application/json
Pragma: no-cache
Cache-Control: no-cache
Content-Length: 29
X-Docker-Registry-Version: 0.8.15
X-Docker-Registry-Config: common
Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=31536000

So unfortunately it looks like the curl command generated does not work.


It looks like I'm able to download layer blobs from Docker Hub. Here is how I'm currently going about it.

Get an authorization token:

user@host:~$ export TOKEN=\
"$(curl \
--silent \
--header 'GET' \
"https://auth.docker.io/token?service=registry.docker.io&scope=repository:library/ubuntu:pull" \
| jq -r '.token' \

Pull an image manifest:

user@host:~$ curl \
--silent \
--request 'GET' \
--header "Authorization: Bearer ${TOKEN}" \
'https://registry-1.docker.io/v2/library/ubuntu/manifests/latest' \
| jq '.'

Pull an image manifest and extract the blob sums:

user@host:~$ curl \
--silent \
--request 'GET' \
--header "Authorization: Bearer ${TOKEN}" \
'https://registry-1.docker.io/v2/library/ubuntu/manifests/latest' \
| jq -r '.fsLayers[].blobSum'


Download a single layer blob and write it to a file:

user@host:~$ BLOBSUM=\

user@host:~$ curl \
--silent \
--location \
--request GET \
--header "Authorization: Bearer ${TOKEN}" \
"https://registry-1.docker.io/v2/library/ubuntu/blobs/${BLOBSUM}" \
> "${BLOBSUM/*:/}.gz"

Write all of the blob sums to a file:

user@host:~$ curl \
--silent \
--request 'GET' \
--header "Authorization: Bearer ${TOKEN}" \
'https://registry-1.docker.io/v2/library/ubuntu/manifests/latest' \
| jq -r '.fsLayers[].blobSum' > ubuntu-blobsums.txt

Download all of the layer blobs from the manifest:

user@host:~$ while read BLOBSUM; do
curl \
--silent \
--location \
--request 'GET' \
--header "Authorization: Bearer ${TOKEN}" \
"https://registry-1.docker.io/v2/library/ubuntu/blobs/${BLOBSUM}" \
> "${BLOBSUM/*:/}.gz"; \
done < blobsums.txt

Now I have a bunch of layer blobs and I need to recombine them into an image - I think.

Related Links:

  • "More specifically, I want to download a Docker Image from Docker Hub on a machine in a restricted environment which does not (and cannot) have the Docker client software installed." => What's the point to have the images on this machine then ? (easier workaround is using a pivot host, one where you acn docker pull from dockerhub and docker save/ docker push to an internal registry after) – Tensibai Nov 30 '17 at 11:06
  • @Tensibai To copy it to another machine that does have Docker but doesn't have internet access. – igal Nov 30 '17 at 13:46
  • Did you had a look at the docker pull code? It sounds the way to go to build something like this from basic http calls – Tensibai Nov 30 '17 at 19:04
  • @Tensibai I think I figured it out. I also think I got a solution from the Docker community. I'll come back and post the solution later today. – igal Nov 30 '17 at 20:57
  • @Tensibai I posted a solution with a shell script that solves the problem. – igal Dec 3 '17 at 15:04

So it turns out that the Moby Project has a shell script on the Moby Github which can download images from Docker Hub in a format that can be imported into Docker:

The usage syntax for the script is given by the following:

download-frozen-image-v2.sh target_dir image[:tag][@digest] ...

The image can then be imported with tar and docker load:

tar -cC 'target_dir' . | docker load

To verify that the script works as expected, I downloaded an Ubuntu image from Docker Hub and loaded it into Docker:

user@host:~$ bash download-frozen-image-v2.sh ubuntu ubuntu:latest
user@host:~$ tar -cC 'ubuntu' . | docker load
user@host:~$ docker run --rm -ti ubuntu bash

In practice I would have to first copy the data from the internet client (which does not have Docker installed) to the target/destination machine (which does have Docker installed):

user@nodocker:~$ bash download-frozen-image-v2.sh ubuntu ubuntu:latest
user@nodocker:~$ tar -C 'ubuntu' -cf 'ubuntu.tar' .
user@nodocker:~$ scp ubuntu.tar user@hasdocker:~

and then load and use the image on the target host:

user@hasdocker:~ docker load ubuntu.tar
user@hasdocker:~ docker run --rm -ti ubuntu bash
  • The machine with internet connectivity does not and cannot have Docker installed. but you apply docker load – 030 Dec 3 '17 at 15:11
  • @030 Just to test/demonstrate that the script works and that the download image data can be imported into Docker. In practice I would first have to copy the data to a machine with Docker installed. – igal Dec 3 '17 at 15:13
  • Perhaps you could add that part for clarification – 030 Dec 3 '17 at 15:13
  • 2
    @030 I added an example session illustrating what the workflow would look like in practice. – igal Dec 3 '17 at 15:20

There is a tool called Skopeo which can retrieve Docker images from a repository and save them in several formats.

For example:

  1. Download the image and save the layers as a tarball: skopeo copy docker://ubuntu docker-archive:/tmp/ubuntu.tar:ubuntu

  2. Transfer /tmp/ubuntu.tar to another machine if desired.

  3. Load the image on a Docker instance which does not have internet connection: docker load --input /tmp/ubuntu.tar

It is available in CentOS 7 repo with the package name skopeo. There are no Debian or Ubuntu packages at this time (but it is easy to compile).


thanks for motivation. I made a powershell version of it. Check it out... With it you can move in dockerhub containers to a restricted docker networks with a windows desktop and an ssh-scp tool to docker machine without root or administrator rights

https://gitlab.com/Jancsoj78/dockerless_docker_downloader a new hacker tool :)

$image = "ubuntu"
$tag = "latest"
$imageuri = "https://auth.docker.io/token?service=registry.docker.io&scope=repository:library/"+$image+":pull"
$taguri = "https://registry-1.docker.io/v2/library/"+$image+"/manifests/"+$tag
$bloburi = "https://registry-1.docker.io/v2/library/"+$image+"/blobs/sha256:"

#token request
$token = Invoke-WebRequest -Uri $imageuri | ConvertFrom-Json | Select -expand token

#pull image manifest
$blobs = $($(Invoke-Webrequest -Headers @{Authorization="Bearer $token"} -Method GET -Uri $taguri | ConvertFrom-Json | Select -expand fsLayers ) -replace "sha256:" -replace "@{blobSum=" -replace "}")

#download blobs
for ($i=0; $i -lt $blobs.length; $i++) {
    $blobelement =$blobs[$i]

    Invoke-Webrequest -Headers @{Authorization="Bearer $token"} -Method GET -Uri $bloburi$blobelement -OutFile blobtmp

    $source = "blobtmp"
    $newfile = "$blobelement.gz"

Copy-Item $source $newfile -Force -Recurse
#source blobs
ls *.gz
echo "copy these .gz to your docker machine"
echo "docker import .gz backward one by one"
echo "lastone with ubuntu:latest"
echo "after docker export and reimport to make a simple layer image"

To me it is not completely clear what you are trying to achieve and why the attempts are not a solution for the problem. If I would need to solve this issue I would like @Tensibai and other Q&As indicated, do a docker pull first on a system with internet connectivity, save the docker image, copy it to the machine without internet connectivity, load the image and run it.


There are no images on system A:

userA@systemA ~ $ docker images
REPOSITORY        TAG               IMAGE ID          CREATED             SIZE
userA@systemA ~ $

Pull an image from dockerhub:

userA@systemA ~ $
docker pull nginx
Using default tag: latest
latest: Pulling from library/nginx
bc95e04b23c0: Pull complete 
f3186e650f4e: Pull complete 
9ac7d6621708: Pull complete 
Digest: sha256:b81f317384d7388708a498555c28a7cce778a8f291d90021208b3eba3fe74887
Status: Downloaded newer image for nginx:latest
userA@systemA ~ $ docker images
REPOSITORY        TAG               IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
nginx             latest            9e7424e5dbae        10 days ago         108MB

Save docker image:

userA@systemA ~ $ docker save nginx -o nginx.tar

Copy docker image to systemB and load it.

userB@systemB ~ $ docker load -i nginx.tar
cec7521cdf36: Loading layer  58.44MB/58.44MB
350d50e58b6c: Loading layer  53.76MB/53.76MB
63c39cd4a775: Loading layer  3.584kB/3.584kB
Loaded image: nginx:latest
userB@systemB ~ $ docker images
REPOSITORY        TAG               IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
nginx             latest            9e7424e5dbae        10 days ago         108MB
  • 1
    The machine with internet connectivity does not and cannot have Docker installed. The question is asking for a way to download an image without using the Docker client. See my solution. – igal Dec 3 '17 at 15:03

Here is an adapted python script, thus having an OS independant solution: docker-drag

Use it like that, and it will create a TAR archive that you will be able to import using docker load :

python docker_pull.py hello-world
python docker_pull.py alpine:3.9
python docker_pull.py kalilinux/kali-linux-docker
  • 1
    If you close your github account there's nothing left, if you're ok with sharing it, keep the link but paste the script here also please. You can edit your answer, paste your code and then select it and type ctrl+K or the {} (code) button in the editor top bar to format it. – Tensibai Apr 9 at 13:16
  • I would love to paste the code here but it is 100 lines long and I don't think it will be readable. Nevertheless, you can fork the code to save your own copy of the script. – Dutfaz Apr 9 at 13:19
  • That's not for me, that to have an answer which is self sustaining, if the link break, do you really think this may help someone reading this answer in a few months ? (btw the maximum size for an answer is 30k characters) – Tensibai Apr 9 at 13:39

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