Setting Up a Docker Registry with JFrog Artifactory and Rancher

on Jul 27, 2017

For any team using containers – whether in development, test, or production – an enterprise-grade registry is a non-negotiable requirement. JFrog Artifactory is much beloved by Java developers, and it’s easy to use as a Docker registry as well. To make it even easier, we’ve put together a short walkthrough to setting things up Artifactory in Rancher.


Before you start

For this article, we’ve assumed that you already have a Rancher installation up and running (if not, check out our Quick Start guide), and will be working with either Artifactory Pro or Artifactory Enterprise.

Choosing the right version of Artifactory depends on your development needs.  If your main development needs include building with Maven package types, then Artifactory open source may be suitable.  However, if you build using Docker, Chef Cookbooks, NuGet, PyPI, RubyGems, and other package formats then you’ll want to consider Artifactory Pro.  Moreover, if you have a globally distributed development team with HA and DR needs, you’ll want to consider Artifactory Enterprise.  JFrog provides a detailed matrix with the differences between the versions of Artifactory.

There’s several values you’ll need to select in order to set Artifactory up as a Docker registry, such as a public name, or public port. In this article, we refer to them as variables; just substitute the values you choose in for the variables throughout this post.

To deploy Artifactory, you’ll first need to create (or already) have a wildcard imported into Rancher for “*.$public_name”. You’ll also need to create DNS entries to the IP address for artifactory-lb, the load balancer for the Artifactory high availability architecture. Artifactory will be reached via $publish_schema://$public_name:$public_port, while the Docker registry will be reachable at $publish_schema://$docker_repo_name.$public_name:$public_port

Installing Artifactory

While you can choose to install Artifactory on your own with the documented instructions, you also have the option of using Rancher catalog. The Rancher community has recently contributed a template for Artifactory, which deploys the package, the Artifactory server, its reverse proxy, and a Rancher load balancher.

A note on reverse proxies: to use Artifactory as a Docker registry, a reverse proxy is required. This reverse proxy is automatically configured using the Rancher catalog item. However, if you need to apply a custom nginx configuration, you can do so by upgrading the artifactory-rp container in Rancher.

Note that installing Artifactory is a separate task from setting up Artifactory to serve as a Docker registry, and from connecting that Docker registry to Rancher (we’ll cover how to do these things as well).

To launch the Artifactory template, navigate to the community catalog in Rancher. Choose “Pro” as the Artifactory version to launch, and set parameters for schema, name, and port:

Once the package is deployed, the service is accessible through $publish_schema://$publish_name:$publish_port


Configure Artifactory

At this point, we’ll need to do a bit more configuration with Artifactory to complete the setup. Access the Artifactory server using the path above. The next step will be to configure the reverse proxy and to enable Docker image registry integration.

To configure the reverse proxy, set the following parameters:

  • Internal hostname: artifactory
  • Internal port: 8081
  • Internal context: artifactory
  • Public server name: $public_name
  • Public context path: [leave blank]
  • http port: $public_port
  • Docker reverse proxy settings: Sub Domain

Next, create a local Docker repository. Make sure to select Docker as the package type:

Verify that the registry name is correct; it should be formatted as $docker_rep_name.$public_name

Test that the registry is working by logging into it:

# docker login $publish_schema://$docker_repo_name.$public_name


Add Artifactory into Rancher

Now that Artifactory is all set up, it’s time to add the registry to Rancher itself, so any application built and managed in Rancher can pull images from it. On the top navigation bar, visit Infrastructure, then select Registries from the drop down menu. On the resulting screen, choose “Add Registry”, then select the “Custom” option. All you’ll need to do is enter the address for your Artifactory Docker registry, along with the relevant credentials:

Once it’s been added, you should see it show up your list of recognized registries (which shows up after visiting Infrastructure -> Registries on the top navigation bar).

With that, you should be all set to use Artifactory as a Docker registry within Rancher!


Raul is a DevOps Lead at Rancher Labs.

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