Setting up OpenWhisk with Docker-machine

OpenWhisk can run on a Mac using a virtual machine in which Docker daemon is running. You will make provision of a virtual machine with Docker-machine and communicate with them via Docker remote API.


The following are required to build and deploy OpenWhisk from a Mac host:


  1. Versions of Docker and Ansible are lower than the latest released versions, the versions used in OpenWhisk are pinned to have stability during continues integration and deployment.
  2. It is required to install Docker >= 18.06.2 because of this CVE

Homebrew is an easy way to install all of these and prepare your Mac to build and deploy OpenWhisk. The following shell command is provided for your convenience to install brew with Cask and bootstraps these to complete the setup. Copy the entire section below and paste it into your terminal to run it.

echo '
# install homebrew
/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"
# install cask
brew tap homebrew/cask
# install virtualbox
brew install --cask virtualbox
# install docker 1.12.0
brew install
# install docker-machine
brew install docker-machine
# install java 8
brew install --cask java
# install scala
brew install scala
# install gnu tar
brew install gnu-tar
# install pip
sudo easy_install pip
# install script prerequisites
sudo -H pip install docker==2.2.1 ansible==2.5.2 jinja2==2.9.6 couchdb==1.1 httplib2==0.9.2 requests==2.10.0' | bash

Create and configure Docker machine

It is recommended that you create a virtual machine whisk with at least 4GB of RAM.

docker-machine create -d virtualbox \
   --virtualbox-memory 4096 \
   --virtualbox-boot2docker-url= \
    whisk # the name of your docker machine

Note that by default the third octet chosen by docker-machine will be 99. If you‘ve multiple docker machines and want to ensure that the ip of the created whisk vm isn’t dependent of the machine start order then provide --virtualbox-hostonly-cidr "192.168.<third_octet>.1/24" in order to create a dedicated virtual network interface.

The Docker virtual machine requires some tweaking to work from the Mac host with OpenWhisk. The following script will disable TLS, add port forwarding within the VM and routes 172.17.x.x from the Mac host to the Docker virtual machine. Enter your sudo Mac password when prompted.

cd /your/path/to/openwhisk

The final output of the script should resemble the following two lines.

Run the following:
export DOCKER_HOST="tcp://" # your Docker virtual machine IP may vary

The Docker host reported by docker-machine ip whisk will give you the IP address. Currently, the system requires that you use port 4243 to communicate with the Docker host from OpenWhisk.

Ignore errors messages from docker-machine ls for the whisk virtual machine, this is due to the configuration of the port 4243 vs. 2376

NAME      ACTIVE   DRIVER       STATE     URL                         SWARM   DOCKER    ERRORS
whisk     -        virtualbox   Running   tcp://           Unknown   Unable to query docker version: Cannot connect to the docker engine endpoint

To verify that docker is configure properly with docker-machine run docker ps, you should not see any errors. Here is an example output:

CONTAINER ID        IMAGE               COMMAND                  CREATED             STATUS              PORTS                    NAMES

You may find it convenient to set these environment variables in your bash profile (e.g., ~/.bash_profile or ~/.profile).

export OPENWHISK_HOME=/your/path/to/openwhisk
export DOCKER_HOST=tcp://$(docker-machine ip whisk):4243

The tweaks to the Docker machine persist across reboots. However one of the tweaks is applied on the Mac host and must be applied again if you reboot your Mac. Without it, some tests which require direct communication with Docker containers will fail. To run just the Mac host tweaks, run the following script. Enter your sudo Mac password when prompted.

cd /your/path/to/openwhisk


cd /your/path/to/openwhisk
./gradlew distDocker

Tip Using gradlew handles the installation of the correct version of Gradle to use.


brew install python
pip install ansible==2.5.0
pip install jinja2==2.9.6

cd ansible
ansible-playbook -i environments/docker-machine setup.yml [-e docker_machine_name=whisk]

Hint: If you omit the optional -e docker_machine_name parameter, it will default to “whisk”. If your docker-machine VM has a different name you may pass it via the -e docker_machine_name parameter.

After this there should be a hosts file in the ansible/environments/docker-machine directory.

To verify the hosts file you can do a quick ping to the docker machine:

cd ansible
ansible all -i environments/docker-machine -m ping

Should result in something like:

ansible | SUCCESS => {
    "changed": false,
    "ping": "pong"
} | SUCCESS => {
    "changed": false,
    "ping": "pong"

Follow remaining instructions from Using Ansible section in ansible/

Configure the CLI

Follow instructions in Configure CLI

Use the wsk CLI

bin/wsk action invoke /whisk.system/utils/echo -p message hello --result
    "message": "hello"