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Push to GitHub Container Registry using GitHub Actions

Gregory Schier Headshot Gregory Schier • 3 min read

Last month, GitHub launched GitHub Container Registry, a rework of the existing Docker support offered within GitHub Packages.

Container Registry allows hosting of Docker images within an organization or personal user account, unlike Packages which only allows hosting at the repository level.

Note: GitHub Container Registry is currently in public beta and subject to change.

This post demonstrates how to set up a GitHub Actions Workflow to push an image to the registry, automatically. Here's what we'll be doing.

  1. Create a Personal Access Token and add it as a secret
  2. Create a Dockerfile (or use an existing one)
  3. Add .github/workflows/deploy.yml workflow file
  4. Trigger the workflow by creating a tag

Personal Access Token#

GitHub Container Registry does not currently support the default GITHUB_TOKEN (provided to Actions automatically) for authentication. Because of this, it is necessary to create a Personal Access Token with the correct scopes and add it as a repository secret.

The token requires the repo and write:packages scopes. Clicking the button below will fill in the necessary scopes.

Create New Token

Once the token is created, copy it and navigate to your repository Settings > Secrets. Create a secret called GITHUB_REGISTRY_TOKEN and insert the token as the value.

Create Dockerfile#

The contents of the Dockerfile don't matter for this tutorial, so we'll use this basic one as an example.

FROM alpine
CMD ["echo", "Hello World!"]

Create Workflow#

And now, we're ready to create the workflow file. Workflows are discovered in the .github/workflows directory, so create a deploy.yml file in there.

name: Deploy Docker

# Run workflow on tags starting with v (eg. v2, v1.2.0)
      - v*

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
      - name: Checkout Code
        uses: actions/checkout@v1
      - name: Login to GitHub Container Registry
        uses: docker/login-action@v1
          username: ${{ github.repository_owner }}
          password: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_REGISTRY_TOKEN }}
      - name: Build and Push Docker Image
        uses: docker/build-push-action@v2
          push: true # Will only build if this is not here
          tags: |
  ${{ github.repository }}:${{ github.ref }}
  ${{ github.repository }}:latest

Trigger Workflow#

The workflow above uses the docker/login-action to authenticate with the registry, and the docker/build-push-action to build the image and push it to the registry. You can trigger it by creating a Git tag that matches the version format (eg. v1.0).

Once run, you'll see the image appear under the repository owner's profile within the Packages tab. Here is my profile, for example. From here, you can manage versions, link it to a repository, or change the visibility from private to public. Remember, if the image is private, you'll need to authenticate with the GitHub Container Registry wherever you intend to pull the image as well.

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