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Docuum: LRU eviction of Docker images

Build Status

Docuum performs least recently used (LRU) eviction of Docker images to keep the disk usage below a given threshold.

Docker's built-in docker image prune --all --filter until= command serves a similar purpose. However, the built-in solution isn't ideal since it uses the image creation time, rather than the last usage time, to determine which images to remove. That means it can delete frequently used images, and these may take a long time to build.

Docuum is ideal for use cases such as continuous integration workers, development environments, or any other situation in which Docker images accumulate on disk over time. Docuum works well with tools like Toast and Docker Compose.

Docuum is used by Airbnb on its fleet of 1.5k+ CI workers.

How it works

Docker doesn't record when an image was last used. To work around this, Docuum listens for notifications via docker events to learn when images are used. It maintains a small piece of state in a local data directory (see this for details about where this directory is on various platforms). That persisted state allows you to freely restart Docuum (or the whole machine) without losing the image usage timestamp data.

When Docuum first starts and subsequently whenever a new Docker event comes in, LRU eviction is performed until the total disk usage due to Docker images is below the given threshold. This design has two advantages over time to live (TTL) schemes:

  1. There is no need to configure and tune an interval to run on. Docuum evicts images immediately whenever the disk usage exceeds the threshold without waiting for any timers.
  2. Docuum uses no CPU resources when there is no Docker activity. You can run it on your laptop without worrying about draining your battery.


Docuum is meant to be started once and run forever, rather than as a cron job. Once Docuum is installed, you can run it from the command line as follows:

$ docuum --threshold '30 GB'

You probably want to run Docuum as a daemon, e.g., with launchd, systemd, etc. You may consult your operating system documentation for instructions on how to do that. For macOS, for example, you can create a file (owned by root) called /Library/LaunchDaemons/local.docuum.plist with the following:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "https://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
            <string>10 GB</string>

Now Docuum will start automatically when you restart your machine, and the logs can be found at /var/log/docuum.log. If you do not wish to restart your machine, you can run sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/local.docuum.plist to start the daemon.

Here are the supported command-line options:


    -h, --help
            Prints help information

    -t, --threshold <THRESHOLD>
            Sets the maximum amount of space to be used for Docker images (default: 10 GB)

    -v, --version
            Prints version information


Running Docuum in a Docker container

If you prefer not to install Docuum on your system, you can run it in a container. To run it in the foreground, you can use a command like the following:

docker run \
  --init \
  --rm \
  --tty \
  --name docuum \
  --volume /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock \
  --volume docuum:/root \
  stephanmisc/docuum --threshold '15 GB'

To run it in the background:

docker run \
  --detach \
  --init \
  --rm \
  --name docuum \
  --volume /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock \
  --volume docuum:/root \
  stephanmisc/docuum --threshold '15 GB'

Easy installation

If you are running macOS or a GNU-based Linux on an x86-64 CPU, you can install Docuum with this command:

curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/stepchowfun/docuum/master/install.sh -LSfs | sh

The same command can be used again to update Docuum to the latest version.

NOTE: Piping curl to sh is dangerous since the server might be compromised. If you're concerned about this, you can download and inspect the installation script or choose one of the other installation methods.

Customizing the installation

The installation script supports the following environment variables:

  • VERSION=x.y.z (defaults to the latest version)
  • PREFIX=/path/to/install (defaults to /usr/local/bin)

For example, the following will install Docuum into the working directory:

curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/stepchowfun/docuum/master/install.sh -LSfs | PREFIX=. sh

Manual installation

The releases page has precompiled binaries for macOS or Linux systems running on an x86-64 CPU. You can download one of them and place it in a directory listed in your PATH.

Installation with Cargo

If you have Cargo, you can install Docuum as follows:

cargo install docuum

You can run that command with --force to update an existing installation.


  • Docuum requires Docker Engine 17.03.0 or later.
    • If you are using Docker Engine 18.09.0 or later with BuildKit mode enabled, Docker distinguishes between layers for intermediate build steps ("build cache") versus actual images. Docuum will only clean up images. BuildKit's built-in garbage collection feature can be used for the build cache. If you are not using BuildKit mode, there is no distinction between images and build cache layers, and Docuum will happily clean up both.


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