Using OpenDrift in a container

In this tutorial we will walk through building a Docker container with opendrift, and then interacting with it. If desired, you can use this same container to create a [Singularity image]( that is usable on a shared resource cluster. We will do the latter by pulling the image on Docker Hub directly into a Singularity container. This folder contains two Dockerfiles:

  • Dockerfile: builds a vanilla container with opendrift, Python 3


These images are available on Docker Hub as opendrift/opendrift, with instructions provided below for building locally. You should look at the “tags” tab of each to determine the version of Open Drift and Python that you are interested in. For example:

  • opendrift/opendrift:latest refers to OpenDrift (latest version) with Python 3

  • opendrift/opendrift:v1.0.7- refers to OpenDrift (version 1.0.7) with Python 3

If you want to pull a particular version:

$ docker pull opendrift/opendrift:1.0.7


If needed, you can develop locally! You should first install Docker so that you can build images on your host. To build the image, after cloning the repository, from the base of the repo issue this command, where opendrift/opendrift refers to the name of the container (on Docker Hub it coincides with a <username><reponame> You should select the name of the file that you want to build (e.g., docker/Dockerfile) and then build as follows:

$ docker build -f docker/Dockerfile -t opendrift/opendrift .


We will show usage examples for the base container, and you can change the name if you desire to use a different container or version (the tag). Likely you will want to interact with the software, and you can do this via an interactive (i) terminal (t) session:

$ docker run -it opendrift/opendrift


We will now walk through dumping the Docker layers (you might know Docker images are composed of layers, like a cake!) into a Singularity container. Why would you want a Singularity container? It doesn’t have the security issues of Docker, and could be used on a shared resource.


You should first install Singularity so that you can build images on your host. If you use a Mac, you will need to install Singularity in a virtual machine like Vagrant. Singularity is going to allow us to interact exactly the same, but with an image that we can use on our shared resource. The biggest difference is that a Singularity image is a read only single file (a format called squashfs so it is compressed) that we can physically move around and execute like a script. Unlike Docker images that are assembled from layers and the whole thing is sort of mysterious to the average user, your Singularity container is a single file that can sit on your desktop. You can read more about Singularity here.

Pull the Container

Wherever you are working, the image layers (used to create the Singularity container) will be pulled by default to the Singularity default cache, which is $HOME/.singularity. If there is absolutely any chance that your $HOME has a quota (e.g., on a shared resource) then you should define the environment variable SINGULARITY_CACHEDIR to be somewhere that you do have room. For example, it may be the folder defined at the environment variable $SCRATCH on your shared resource. You might do something like this before using Singularity:


Next, we will pull the Docker Image for OpenDrift from Docker Hub directly into a Singularity container. You actually don’t need to be a superuser (root / sudo) to do this.

$ singularity pull --name opendrift.sif docker://opendrift/opendrift

Using the image

Let’s shell inside the image to interact with the software! I’m not sure how OpenDrift is used, but I can show you where it is. First, shell inside to explore!

$ singularity shell opendrift.sif

You can also just run the image to get an interactive shell, with working directory /code where the repository was cloned. Here is an example of running directly (without build) to pull the latest tag:

$ docker run -it opendrift/opendrift

Unable to find image 'opendrift/opendrift:latest' locally
latest: Pulling from opendrift/opendrift
cc1a78bfd46b: Already exists
bad124d5894e: Pull complete
ab2b0b173074: Pull complete
018d53043894: Pull complete
4987762b1e47: Pull complete
d58a7f3e3615: Pull complete
86f53a067a28: Pull complete
4c17ec80ca72: Pull complete
aae597ea9e38: Pull complete
Digest: sha256:33807a79ced6ca9c0960bd942e9d12381c7f1066feb75c5c6992ae5b8802f94c
Status: Downloaded newer image for opendrift/opendrift:latest
(base) root@d7ca5fe730b8:/code# python
Python 2.7.15 |Anaconda, Inc.| (default, May  1 2018, 23:32:55)
[GCC 7.2.0] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import opendrift
>>> opendrift.__version__

To execute a command to the container from the outside (on the host without shelling inside) you can use exec:

[vsochat@sh-08-37 ~]$ singularity exec opendrift.sif python

The opendrift software (this repository) can be found at /code/opendrift in the container. Note that the creators used / more robustly tested the Singularity container on the Sherlock cluster.