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.

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