#docker #cp #container #environment #application #start #containers #kubernetes-cluster

bin+lib dcp

A utility tool to copy container filesystems easily

5 releases

Uses new Rust 2021

0.4.1 Oct 31, 2022
0.4.0 Sep 11, 2022
0.3.2 Sep 5, 2022
0.3.1 Aug 27, 2022
0.3.0 Aug 15, 2022

#650 in Development tools

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83 downloads per month

MIT license

605 lines

dcp: docker cp made easy

GitHub Actions Latest version MIT licensed


Containers are great tools that can encapsulate an application and its dependencies, allowing apps to run anywhere in a streamlined way. Some container images contain commands to start a long-lived binary, whereas others may simply contain data that needs to be available in the environment (for example, a Kubernetes cluster). For example, operator-framework bundles and crossplane packages both use container images to store Kubernetes manifests. These manifests are unpacked on-cluster and made available to end users.

One of the downsides of using container images to store data is that they are opaque. There's no way to quickly tell what's inside the image, although the hash digest is useful in seeing whether the image has changed from a previous version. The options are to use docker cp or something similar using podman or containerd.

Using docker cp by itself can be cumbersome. Say you have a remote image somewhere in a registry. You have to pull the image, create a container from that image, and only then run docker cp <container-id> using an unintuitive syntax for selecting what should be copied to the local filesystem.

dcp is a simple binary that attempts to simplify this workflow. A user can simply say dcp <image-name> and it can extract the contents of that image onto the local filesystem. It can also just print the contents of the image to stdout, and not create any local files.



Installing from crates.io

If you're a Rust programmer and have Rust installed locally, you can install dcp by simply entering cargo install dcp, which will fetch the latest version from crates.io.

Download compiled binary

The release section has a number of precompiled versions of dcp for different platforms. Linux, macOS, and Windows (experimental) binaries are pre-built. For MacOS, both arm and x86 targets are provided, and for Linux only x86 is provided. If your system is not supported, building dcp from the source is straightforward.

Build from source

To build from source, ensure that you have the rust toolchain installed locally. This project does not rely on nightly and uses the 1.62-stable toolchain. Clone the repository and run cargo build --release to build a release version of the binary. From there, you can move the binary to a folder on your $PATH to access it easily.


Because there wasn't a suitable containerd client implementation in Rust at the time of writing, dcp relies on APIs provided by external docker and podman crates. This limits dcp to working on systems where docker or podman is the container runtime.

By default, dcp will look for an active docker socket to connect to at the standard path. If the docker socket is unavailable, dcp will fallback to the current user's podman socket based on the $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR environment variable.

If the docker socket is on a remote host, or in a custom location, use the -s flag with the path to the custom socket.

Flags and Examples

By default, dcp will copy content to the current directory .. For example, lets try issuing the following command:

$ dcp tyslaton/sample-catalog:v0.0.4 -c configs

This command will copy the configs directory (specified via the -c flag) from the image to the current directory.

For further configuration, lets try:

$ dcp tyslaton/sample-catalog:v0.0.4 -d output -c configs

This command pulls down the requested image, only extracting the configs directory and copying it to the output directory locally (specified via the -d flag).

Another example, for copying only the manifests directory:

$ dcp quay.io/tflannag/bundles:resolveset-v0.0.2 -c manifests

Lastly, we can reference a private registry by providing a username and password (specified via the -u and -p flags).

$ dcp quay.io/tyslaton/sample-catalog-private:latest -u <username> -p <password>

Note: This serves as a convenient way to connect to private registries but is insecure locally as your credentials are saved in your shell's history. If you would like to remain completely secure then login via <container_runtime> login and pull the image locally. dcp will then be able to notice the image locally pulled and process it.


Q: I hit an unexpected error unpacking the root filesystem of an image: trying to unpack outside of destination path. How can I avoid this?

A: dcp relies on the underlying tar Rust library to unpack the image filesystem represented as a tar file. The unpack method is sensitive in that it will not write files outside of the path specified by the destination. So things like symlinks will cause errors when unpacking. Whenever possible, use the -c flag to specify a directory to unpack, instead of the filesystem root, to avoid this error.

Q: I would like to use dcp to pull content from an image but I don't know where in the image the content is stored. Is there an ls command or similar functionality in dcp?

A: Checkout the excellent dive tool to easily explore a container filesystem by layer. After finding the path of the files to copy, you can then use dcp to extract just those specific files.

Q: Is dcp supported on Windows?

A: Yes, dcp is supported on Windows. Windows support is experimental, as there is no CI coverage, but it will likely work in your windows environment. The only non-default change you need to make is to expose the docker daemon so that dcp can connect to it. This can be done through one of two ways:

  1. Adding the following to your %userprofile%\.docker\daemon.json file.

        "hosts": ["tcp://"]
  2. Going through the Docker Desktop UI and enabling the setting for Expose daemon on tcp://localhost:2375 without TLS under General.

Q: I would like to inspect image labels to figure out where in the filesystem I should copy from. Does dcp have an inspect command to list image labels?

A: Listing an image's labels can be done easily using the underlying container runtime. For example, run docker image inspect <image-id> | grep Labels to see labels attached to an image. From there, dcp can be used to copy files from the container filesystem.


If you would like to run the test suite, you just need to run the standard cargo command. This will run all relevant unit, integration and documentation tests.

$ cargo test


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