Simplifies management of iptables rules when running Docker

Praekelt Foundation



7,100 latest version

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Version information

  • 0.2.0 (latest)
  • 0.1.0
released Apr 18th 2017
This version is compatible with:
  • Puppet Enterprise 2021.0.x, 2019.8.x, 2019.7.x, 2019.5.x, 2019.4.x, 2019.3.x, 2019.2.x, 2019.1.x, 2019.0.x, 2018.1.x, 2017.3.x, 2017.2.x, 2017.1.x, 2016.5.x, 2016.4.x
  • Puppet >= 4.5.0
  • Debian

Start using this module


praekeltfoundation/docker_firewall — version 0.2.0 Apr 18th 2017


Puppet module for simplifying the management of iptables rules when running Docker

Docker makes extensive use of iptables to enable features like port-forwarding and inter-container communication when using bridge-mode networking. Unfortunately, the way Docker configures iptables makes it difficult to limit access to containers from the outside world.

The docker_firewall class aims to make running custom iptables rules alongside Docker easier. It manages the static iptables rules that Docker creates when its daemon starts and allows Docker to dynamically create rules as containers are started.

Please read all of this document if it is important to you that your containers cannot be accessed from the outside world.


class { 'docker_firewall':
  accept_rules => {
    '200 accept eth1 traffic' => {
      'iniface' => 'eth1',
      'proto'   => 'all',
  subscribe    => Service['docker'],

This sets up the Docker iptables rules and allows access to containers from connections incoming from the eth1 interface, while dropping external connections from other interfaces.

Managed chains

The module manages all the iptables chains that Docker touches. The chains will be purged and unmanaged rules will be removed. You can adjust which rules are not removed using the <chain>_purge_ignore parameters. See the manifest source for more information.

The following chains will be purged:
nat table


filter table


By default, the policies of the chains will not be managed. You can use the <chain>_policy parameters to adjust this. The exception to this is the filter/FORWARD chain which, by default, will be set to have a policy of DROP. This is something the Docker daemon does since version 1.13.0. For more information see this discussion.

In addition, the DOCKER chain in the nat table and the DOCKER and DOCKER-ISOLATION chains in the filter table are managed but not purged. Rules in these chains are created by the Docker daemon and should not be changed.


The major functionality of the class (limiting outside connections to containers) works by adding a chain called DOCKER_INPUT that handles connections destined for the docker0 interface. This chain can be used much like the INPUT chain in the filter table would typically be used to whitelist connections, but instead of ACCEPT-ing connections, rather jump to the DOCKER chain.

For example, for a regular input rule that allows connections from you could do something like:


To allow access to Docker containers you would do:


The $accept_rules parameter for the main docker_firewall class provides an easy way to set up rules to accept connections to Docker containers. This parameter takes a hash of firewall resources to create, and defaults those rules to be in the DOCKER_INPUT chain and jump to the DOCKER chain. This parameter is probably best set using Hiera, for example:

  200 accept all traffic from
    proto: all

Docker daemon restarts

This class should be used in combination with the --iptables=true flag (the default) when starting the Docker daemon. We want Docker to manage iptables rules for each container.

The Docker daemon normally won't rewrite or change rules in iptables if it sees that its rules are already present. Even though we copy most of Docker's rules, because the puppetlabs/firewall module adds comments to each rule it creates, Docker thinks that its rules aren't present. So it goes ahead and re-adds all its rules, generally inserting them before the Puppet-created rules.

This means that when the Docker daemon restarts there may be some time before the docker_firewall class is applied that the containers on the machine may be exposed to outside connections.

You should ensure that the docker_firewall class always runs after the Docker service restarts.

Facter and the docker0 interface

Using this module at the same time as you install Docker may require a second run of Puppet as Facter will need a chance to pick up details about Docker's bridge interface (docker0). In order to set up the firewall, the $::network_docker0 fact must be set.

Custom bridge interfaces

When setting up a custom Docker bridge network (available since Docker 1.9.0), extra iptables rules are needed for each network. It's possible to define extra bridge interfaces using the $bridges parameter for the docker_firewall class or by defining docker_firewall::bridge resources.

NOTE: You must specify the actual bridge interface name when creating the network, for example:

docker network create -d bridge -o mynetwork

In this example we are interested in the name br-mynetwork which is the name of the interface that Docker creates for the network. This is the name that should be used for the docker_firewall::bridge resource.

If the option is not specified when the network is created, Docker will generate an interface name consisting of the hash identifier for the network, for example br-d108dbddb4c8.

This system currently doesn't support any non-default options such as internal mode (--internal) or hairpin-mode routing (--userland-proxy=false).

Ideally, some Puppet module would export facts about the Docker interface names and we could pick them up and configure the firewall rules with less input from the user.


The DOCKER_INPUT chain was inspired by the idea of a PRE_DOCKER chain as described in this blog post by Rudi Starcevic.

Many of the Puppet firewall rules were adapted from the hesco-weave Puppet module source.