This is the first time i address such a network "problem" to solve with docker and i need some inputs.

This is my situation:

  • Ubuntu 14.04 running NginX, ufw as firewall and docker containers to run a PHP backend application.

  • Ufw default policy is set to DROP for both INPUT and OUTPUT, as well as for FORWARD.

  • sysctl rule: net.ipv4.conf.all.forwarding = 0

My need:

  • a container running in daemon mode, with port 8888/tcp which accept connections from the outside but ONLY from ip and, also, port 4444/tcp which listen from localhost

My problem:

Ufw is set to accept incoming connections on port 8888/tcp ONLY from ip Hence, basically:

sudo ufw allow in from to any port 8888 proto tcp

Then, i run the container with:

docker run -p 8888:8888/tcp -p [other options ]

Afterwards, running nmap -p 8888 from a machine which have NOT the ip =, i expect to get port filtered. But....

Host is up (0.056s latency).
8888/tcp  open  unknown

I have then tried to run the container again without -p 8888:8888/tcp and then i tried to run again the nmap, and...

Host is up (0.061s latency).
8888/tcp  filtered  unknown

Therefore, it seems that, correct me if i am wrong, docker rules override ufw's ones.

I have then searched a way to allow incoming traffic in a container only from a specific address, and i found something like:

iptables -I DOCKER -i ext_if ! -s -j DROP

And it worked:

8888/tcp  filtered unknown

Nmap done: 1 IP address (1 host up) scanned in 15.05 seconds

My question is then:

is the solution above right for my case? i mean: acting like above, i am overriding ufw rule allow in from to any port 8888 proto tcp with a docker rule that says "expose ports only if traffic comes from ip " ... is this the right approach?

would not be better to leave ufw do the "bad work" of drop unwanted packets and then just forward traffic from filtered ports to docker? is there a way to do this?

I would avoid this solution because being an iptable rule of the DOCKER chain, that rule involves all the containers i currently have or i will have.

Thank you.

  • Could you provide output of iptables-save? When Docker starts it modifies iptables rules in order to ensure mapping to ports that should be open.
    – Tombart
    Jan 31 '16 at 11:12

On Linux, both ufw and docker's rules are implemented on top of netfilter. So is iptables. So it is not possible to get ufw to do some things and get docker rules to do others - all those things will be done by the single underlying netfilter subsystem.

The command iptables-save is useful to dump out everything that has been configured for netfilter, including docker rules and ufw, and then (with some effort) you can follow through the chains and see what it is doing.


Note that when Docker daemon starts, it adds DOCKER chain to *filter and *nat rules. If you clear all iptables rules afterwards, using e.g. ufw, you might break expected behaviour. When you start a container, a FORWARD rules is added to DOCKER chain. Docker is running command like this:

iptables --wait -t filter -A DOCKER ! -i docker0 -o docker0 -p tcp -d --dport 8888 -j ACCEPT

However, this won't open any port to the world, because Docker is not modifying INPUT rules of iptables. So, this means that there's something wrong with your ufw rules.

If you don't like Docker modifying your iptables rules, you can disable it when in Docker service configuration by adding --iptables=false.


Docker allows firewall rules to be configured with the DOCKER-USER table. When setting up port filters, you want to use conntrack to get the original destination port since you could have multiple containers all listening on the same port inside the container, published to different ports on the host, and the firewall rule will see the packets after they have already been manipulated to send to the container port.

When using DOCKER-USER, be sure to insert rules to the top of the chain since it comes with a default accept rule at the end, and appending after this would be ignored. This also means you need to reverse your logic, inserting your last rule first, as later rules will be inserted before this.

An example with iptables to drop packets from the eth0 interface that aren't on the source CIDR to published port 8080 looks like:

iptables -I DOCKER-USER -i eth0 ! -s -p tcp \
  -m conntrack --ctorigdstport 8080 -j DROP
iptables -I DOCKER-USER -i eth0 -s -p tcp \
  -m conntrack --ctorigdstport 8080 -j ACCEPT

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