Pushing to Google Container Registry from CircleCI

CircleCI is a great build tool with a lot of flexibility. They even have a good tutorial on interacting with docker with a special section referencing Google Compute Engine and Kubernetes. The only slight difference here is that I want to deploy directly to Google's Container Registry (GCR) rather than deploy my own registry, which is slightly more involved. So, let's get started.

Our starting point is circleci/docker-hello-google, then a little help from this fork bellkev/docker-hello-google. These repos handle a lot of the other aspects of building a docker image, running, and testing it.

From the command line, it is really easy to push docker images to the GCR.

For example:

docker tag user/example-image gcr.io/your-project-id/example-image
gcloud docker push gcr.io/your-project-id/example-image

However, in a build environment, we can't just use gcloud auth login with our Google credentials. We need to first set up a service account. You will need the email address and downloaded json file project_name-xxxxx.json.

Once you've created your service account, set up the following environment variables in CircleCI:

name value
GCLOUD_EMAIL {string_of_characters}@developer.gserviceaccount.com
GCLOUD_KEY base64-encoded version of project_name-xxxxx.json

On OSX and Linux, you can get the base64 encoded version like this:

cat project_name-xxxxx.json | base64

Now we can write a script that authenticates us with gcloud and name it script/auth-gcloud.sh:

#! /bin/bash
echo $GCLOUD_KEY | base64 --decode > gcloud.p12
gcloud auth activate-service-account $GCLOUD_EMAIL --key-file gcloud.p12
ssh-keygen -f ~/.ssh/google_compute_engine -N ""

Now we just need to set up the circle.yml with the following sections:

Here, the CLOUDSDK_* environment variables help with non-interactive use of the gcloud cli.

    CLOUDSDK_COMPUTE_ZONE: us-central1-b
    PATH: $PATH:/home/ubuntu/google-cloud-sdk/bin
    version: 2.7.3
    - docker

Check out script/ensure-gcloud-installed.sh here. We build the docer image using our $EXTERNAL_REGISTRY_ENDPOINT and the $CIRCLE_SHA1 and use the standard CircleCI method of caching docker layers.

    - ~/google-cloud-sdk
    - ~/docker
    - script/ensure-gcloud-installed.sh
    - if [[ -e ~/docker/image.tar ]]; then docker load -i ~/docker/image.tar; fi
    - docker build -t $EXTERNAL_REGISTRY_ENDPOINT/hello:$CIRCLE_SHA1 .
    - mkdir -p ~/docker; docker save $EXTERNAL_REGISTRY_ENDPOINT/hello:$CIRCLE_SHA1 > ~/docker/image.tar

Next, we use our script from above to authenticate with gcloud, then use the gcloud docker push almost like normal. I had to add > /dev/null to ignore the output as it was causing the following error: FATA[0061] HTTP code 500 while uploading metadata: "invalid character 'I' looking for beginning of value"

    branch: master
      - script/auth-gcloud.sh
      - gcloud docker push $EXTERNAL_REGISTRY_ENDPOINT/hello > /dev/null

The working code for this example can be found at my fork. I imagine these same principles can be applied to push docker images to Google Cloud Registry from other build tools like Jenkins or TravisCI.