I am using Docker CE on Ubuntu 16.04, with ZFS as storage for Docker. Setup is pretty much standard:

  1. There's a zpool that has multiple disks
  2. On the zpool, there's a zfs filesystem with mountpoint /var/lib/docker.
  3. Docker sees that the filesystem is ZFS, and uses that automatically

Everything works most of the time. However, once in a while when my VM boots up, the zpool fails to mount. I believe (though I am not 100% sure) that this is because the Docker service starts before the ZFS filesystem is mounted, and in fact I see a /var/lib/docker folder created on the root FS.

How can I ensure that the Docker service does not start until all ZFS filesystems are mounted?

  • Depending on the details, you could try to add [Unit] Requires=zfs.target to the docker service using systemctl edit docker. Where you need a newline between [Unit] and Requires=. Don't know how to reflect that in a comment.
    – Thomas
    Mar 25, 2018 at 10:08
  • @Thomas I hear your point. Is waiting for zfs.target an assurance that all the filesystems will be mounted? Rather than Requires=, however, shouldn't I use After=? And rather than editing a unit file, I should add another one that does nothing but says Before=docker.service and After=zfs.target. Mar 26, 2018 at 20:10

2 Answers 2


I was able to solve this by doing two things. Note that one alone might be sufficient.

First, explicitly tell Docker to use ZFS as filesystem, by writing {"storage-driver": "zfs"} in the file /etc/docker/daemon.json. (If the file exists in your disk, then just add the storage-driver key)

Second, create the following systemd unit in the file /etc/systemd/system/docker-wait-zfs.service:

Description=Wait for ZFS before starting Docker



Then execute:

systemctl enable docker-wait-zfs.service

The answer here did not work for me after a recent update. It seems you cannot have "{"storage-driver": "zfs"}" in your "/etc/docker/daemon.json" anymore, unless the root drive is using ZFS. This was not applicable to me, since I was just mapping folders to my containers which happen to reside on ZFS.

To fix this, the following worked:

  1. sudo systemctl edit docker.service
  2. Add the following contents:

    After=zfs-mount.service Requires=zfs-mount.service Wants=zfs-mount.service BindsTo=zfs-mount.service

The answer here, contains explanation for what each line does.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.