Fun with docker and GRASS GIS software

GRASS GIS and dockerSometimes, we developers get reports via mailing list that this & that would not work on whatever operating system. Now what? Should we be so kind and install the operating system in question in order to reproduce the problem? Too much work… but nowadays it has become much easier to perform such tests without having the need to install a full virtual machine – thanks to docker.

Disclaimer: I don’t know much about docker yet, so take the code below with a grain of salt!

In my case I usually work on Fedora or Scientific Linux based systems. In order to quickly (i.e. roughly 10 min of automated installation on my slow laptop) try out issues of GRASS GIS 7 on e.g., Ubuntu, I can run all my tests in docker installed on my Fedora box:

# we need to run stuff as root user
# Fedora 21: install docker 
yum -y docker-io

# Fedora 22: install docker
dnf -y install docker

# enable service
systemctl start docker
systemctl enable docker

Now we have a running docker environment. Since we want to exchange data (e.g. GIS data) with the docker container later, we prepare a shared directory beforehand:

# we'll later map /home/neteler/data/docker_tmp to /tmp within the docker container
mkdir /home/neteler/data/docker_tmp

Now we can start to install a Ubuntu docker image (may be “any” image, here we use “Ubuntu trusty” in our example). We will share the X11 display in order to be able to use the GUI as well:

# enable X11 forwarding
xhost +local:docker

# search for available docker images
docker search trusty

# fetch docker image from internet, establish shared directory and display redirect
# and launch the container along with a shell
docker run -v /data/docker_tmp:/tmp:rw -v /tmp/.X11-unix:/tmp/.X11-unix \
       -e uid=$(id -u) -e gid=$(id -g) -e DISPLAY=unix$DISPLAY \
       --name grass70trusty -i -t corbinu/docker-trusty /bin/bash

In almost no time we reach the command line of this minimalistic Ubuntu container which will carry the name “grass70trusty” in our case (btw: read more about Working with Docker Images):

# now we register the Ubuntu-GIS repos and get GRASS GIS 7.0
add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntugis/ubuntugis-unstable
add-apt-repository ppa:grass/grass-stable
apt-get update
apt-get install grass7

This will take a while (the remaining 9 minutes or so of the overall 10 minutes).

Since I like cursor support on the command line, I launch (again?) the bash in the container session:

root@8e0f233c3d68:/# bash
# yes, we are in Ubuntu here
root@8e0f233c3d68:/# cat /etc/issue

Now we can start to use GRASS GIS 7, even with its graphical user interface from inside the docker container:

# create a directory for our data, it is mapped to /home/neteler/data/docker_tmp/
# on the host machine 
root@8e0f233c3d68:/# mkdir /tmp/grassdata
# create a new LatLong location from EPSG code
# (or copy a location into /home/neteler/data/docker_tmp/)
root@8e0f233c3d68:/# grass70 -c epsg:4326 ~/grassdata/latlong_wgs84
# generate some data to play with
root@8e0f233c3d68:/# v.random n=30 output=random30
# start the GUI manually (since we didn't start GRASS GIS right away with it before)
root@8e0f233c3d68:/# g.gui

Indeed, the GUI comes up as expected!

GRASS GIS 7 GUI in docker container

GRASS GIS 7 GUI in docker container

You may now perform all tests, bugfixes, whatever you like and leave the GRASS GIS session as usual.
To get out of the docker session:

root@8e0f233c3d68:/# exit    # leave the extra bash shell
root@8e0f233c3d68:/# exit    # leave docker session

# disable docker connections to the X server
[root@oboe neteler]# xhost -local:docker

To restart this session later again, you will call it with the name which we have earlier assigned:

[root@oboe neteler]# docker ps -a
# ... you should see "grass70trusty" in the output in the right column

# we are lazy and automate the start a bit
[root@oboe neteler]# GRASSDOCKER_ID=`docker ps -a | grep grass70trusty | cut -d' ' -f1`
[root@oboe neteler]# echo $GRASSDOCKER_ID 
[root@oboe neteler]# xhost +local:docker
[root@oboe neteler]# docker start -a -i $GRASSDOCKER_ID

### ... and so on as described above.


This entry was posted in Blog, docker, Fedora, GRASS, GRASS development, Linux, Ubuntu on by .

About neteler

Markus Neteler , a founding-member of the (D-A-CH), (Italy), and the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo), was head of the GIS and Remote Sensing Unit at the Research and Innovation Centre of the Fondazione Edmund Mach, Trento, Italy from 2008-2016. He then co-founded the mundialis company (Bonn, Germany), a startup specialized in open source development and massive data processing. He is author of several books and chapters on GRASS and various papers on GIS applications. Being passionate about Open Source GIS, he became a GRASS GIS user in 1993 and a developer in 1997, coordinating its development since then.

4 thoughts on “Fun with docker and GRASS GIS software

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  4. neteler Post author

    For the impatient, here an example for Fedora22 (beta) with GUI support and GRASS GIS 7 compilation:

    # find a Fedora 22 image
    docker search fedora22
    # select one and define as variable, e.g.:
    # enable GUI stuff and create a convenient exchange dir to host machine:
    xhost +local:docker
    mkdir /data/docker_tmp
    docker run -v /data/docker_tmp:/tmp:rw -v /tmp/.X11-unix:/tmp/.X11-unix \
           -e uid=$(id -u) -e gid=$(id -g) -e DISPLAY=unix$DISPLAY \
           --name fedora22 -i -t $DOCKERNAME /bin/bash
    dnf install proj-devel gdal-devel sqlite-devel mesa-libGL-devel \
                  fftw-devel mesa-libGLU-devel libXmu-devel libX11-devel geos \
                  libtiff-devel lesstif-devel python-devel numpy wxPython wxGTK-devel \
                  gcc gcc-c++ bison flex ncurses-devel proj-epsg proj-nad xml2 \
                  python-dateutil python-imaging python-matplotlib-wx subversion
    # some extra packages since we are in a minimalistic docker:
    dnf -y install wget tar
    dnf clean all
    # get G7
    cd grass-7.0.svn_src_snapshot_2015_05_02/
    # upgrade and fix permissions
    svn upgrade
    chown -R root.root .
    ./configure \
      --with-cxx \
      --with-gdal=/usr/bin/gdal-config \
      --with-proj --with-proj-share=/usr/share/proj \
      --with-sqlite \
      --with-nls \
      --with-wxwidgets=/usr/bin/wx-config \
      --with-fftw \
      --with-python=/usr/bin/python-config \
      --with-freetype --with-freetype-includes=/usr/include/freetype2 \
      --enable-largefile \
    make -j4
    # you may use the included: demolocation/PERMANENT/

    To relaunch it another day:

    docker ps -a | grep fedora22
    xhost +local:docker
    docker start -a -i 541cd34d2c4c

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