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Docker import breaks docker build cache


(Jason Stangroome) #1

I recently experienced unexpected behaviour from docker import and docker build when starting with a static tarball.

The scenario can be reproduced with this series of commands:

echo hello >hello.txt
echo -e 'FROM hello\nENV foo=bar' >Dockerfile

tar -cf hello.tar hello.txt

docker import hello.tar hello
docker inspect -f '{{.Id}} {{.Created}}' hello
docker build .
docker build .

docker import hello.tar hello
docker inspect -f '{{.Id}} {{.Created}}' hello
docker build .


  1. I begin with a tarball with a single file, created once and not updated.
  2. I use docker import to import this tarball as an image named hello. This new image has a particular Id (eg sha256:...) and Created timestamp.
  3. I have a Dockerfile which uses this imported hello image as its base and adds a single layer which sets an environment variable.
  4. Executing docker build once performs the necessary steps. Executing docker build a second time recognises the layers from the previous build and reports ---> Using cache as expected.
  5. Re-importing the same tarball with the same contents and same file timestamps, results in an image with a new Id and new Created timestamp. Unexpected when the source tarball is unchanged.
  6. Re-running docker build does not leverage the build cache even though the base layer should have identical contents to the base layer used last time.

I am assuming the changed Id and Created timestamp of the re-imported image are responsible for breaking the build cache. I feel that docker import should be deterministic, or at least accept an argument to specify a Created timestamp (or use the tarball timestamp) and hopefully lead to a consist sha256 Id hash (it is supposed to be a content-derived hash right?).

Once docker import behaves deterministically, I presume docker build would then use the build cache as expected.

Before I raise this as a GitHub issue, are my expectations out of sync with the Docker image system?

(Sam) #2

as you have noticed, docker import does NOT examine (hash, …) the contents of the tarball before creating the image, and its matching id. I think the behavior is an acceptable design… you are injecting an outside object into the docker system.

i see your point also… but I think this is a change request, not a bug.