Container Preloading

This guide covers configuring your platform images to preload Docker Compose Apps.

By default, the platform build creates an image to be flashed to a device—that does not include Docker Compose Apps. Then, after installing the image and registering the device, aktualizr-lite downloads and runs the configured Apps.

Cases where having Apps preloaded on the image can be helpful include:

  • Executing a Docker Compose App right after first boot, even without internet or registering the device.
  • Reducing network data usage during the Docker Image download.


Preloading container images will increase the size of the system image considerably, especially if the containers have not been optimally constructed.

Refer to the official Docker documentation for best practices on writing Dockerfiles.

There are two ways to create these images:

Here we focus on the second approach, so that every Target includes a flashable image with preloaded containers.

Configure the CI

Clone your ci-scripts repo and enter its directory:

git clone<factory>/ci-scripts.git
cd ci-scripts

Add the following to factory-config.yml, making sure to set the appropriate values for app_type and oe_builtin (see below):

   enabled: true
   app_type: <restorable|compose>
   shortlist: "shellhttpd"
   oe_builtin: <true|false>
  • enabled- Whether to produce an archive containing Docker images as part of a container build trigger.
  • shortlist- Defines the list of apps to preload. All the Target’s apps are preloaded if not specified or empty. Here, it is set to preload the shellhttpd app.
  • app_type - Defines the type of Apps to preload. If not defined, or set to an empty value, the app_type preload will depend on the LmP version. If the LmP version is v85 or newer, then restorable type is preloaded, otherwise compose type is used. See Restorable Apps.
  • oe_builtin - Optional: Preload Apps during an OE build CI run. Should be left disabled/undefined for most machines.


oe_builtin is a special preloading case where Apps are preloaded during an OE build, rather than by the assemble run of a LmP build. This is needed when the image produced is not a WIC image.

In this case, rootfs and the system image will include preloaded Apps.

Only Restorable type of Apps (default) are supported by the OE builtin preloader.

This option does not work with some advanced tagging cases, e.g. multiple container builds using the same platform (see Advanced Tagging for more details).

Add the factory-config.yml file, commit and push:

git commit -m "Configure shellhttpd as preload app" factory-config.yml
git push

Getting a New Image with Preloaded Containers

After these steps, a platform or containers build will generate a .wic.gz file with the preloaded Docker Images under Runs, assemble-system-image , <tag>.

For example, pushing to main triggers the usual build and an additional run called assemble-system-image. Check the latest Target you just created:


Fig. 36 New Target

When the FoundriesFactory® CI finishes, click Target. Find Runs and download the image from assemble-system-image. Flash the image and boot the device.


Some devices require additional artifacts to be flashed. In this case, download the files from the latest platform build and only use the image from assembly-system-image. For more information about how to flash your device, read Supported Boards.

Checking the Preloaded Image

Restorable Type

Restorable apps are enabled by default on LmP v85+.

On your device, switch to root and list the files in the folder /var/sota/reset-apps.

sudo su
ls /var/sota/reset-apps/apps
app-05 app-07 app-08

Preloaded Restorable Apps are listed in the output, provided that the preloading was successful. In this case, the preloaded apps are app-05, app-07 and app-08.

Another option to verify whether Restorable Apps are preloaded is to use the aklite-apps utility.

sudo su
aklite-apps ls

Try to start the preloaded Restorable Apps manually using aklite-apps:

sudo su
aklite-apps run [--apps <a comma separated list of Apps>]


app_type is set to restorable by default since LmP v85. If compose app type is set, then the preloaded apps are located under /var/sota/compose-apps/<app>. Here is an example using shellhttpd preloaded app:

sudo su
ls /var/sota/compose-apps/shellhttpd
Dockerfile  docker-build.conf  docker-compose.yml

Starting Compose Apps Automatically

To start the preloaded application automatically between the boot and the device registration when aktualizr-lite starts, enable a systemd service responsible for it.

meta-lmp provides a recipe that launches preloaded apps after the device boots.

Clone your meta-subscriber-overrides.git repo and enter its directory:

git clone<factory>/meta-subscriber-overrides.git
cd meta-subscriber-overrides

Edit the recipes-samples/images/ file and add the recipe to the CORE_IMAGE_BASE_INSTALL list:

diff --git a/recipes-samples/images/ b/recipes-samples/images/
--- a/recipes-samples/images/
+++ b/recipes-samples/images/
@@ -30,6 +30,7 @@ CORE_IMAGE_BASE_INSTALL += " \
     networkmanager-nmcli \
     git \
     vim \
+    compose-apps-early-start \
     packagegroup-core-full-cmdline-extended \
     ${@bb.utils.contains('LMP_DISABLE_GPLV3', '1', '', '${CORE_IMAGE_BASE_INSTALL_GPLV3}', d)} \

Add the recipes-samples/images/ file, commit and push:

git commit -m "compose-apps-early-start: Adding recipe" recipes-samples/images/
git push

The latest Target should be the CI job you just created.


Fig. 37 New Platform Target

When the FoundriesFactory CI finishes, click on the Target. Find Runs and download the image from the assemble-system-image run. Flash the image and boot the device.

Testing Auto Start

On your device, list the compose-apps-early-start service:

systemctl list-unit-files | grep enabled | grep compose-apps-early-start
compose-apps-early-start.service           enabled         enabled

Verify the compose-apps-early-start application status:

 systemctl status compose-apps-early-start
compose-apps-early-start.service - Ensure apps are configured and running as early>
     Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/compose-apps-early-start.service; enabl>
     Active: active (exited) since Wed 2021-03-24 10:25:43 UTC; 5 months 17 days ago
    Process: 750 ExecStart=/usr/bin/compose-apps-early-start (code=exited, status=0/>
   Main PID: 750 (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)

After the compose-apps-early-start service has been successfully run, docker ps will show that the preloaded apps are running.

Common Advanced Scenario

More complex workflows are common. For example, a Factory may have containers.git set up with multiple branches where each specifies a different set of apps.

Assume you have four branches with the following application:

# devel and experimental:
money-making-app - The "product"
debug-tools      - A compose app with some tooling used for development
# main:
money-making-app - The "product"
fiotest          - A compose-app that some devices run for QA.
# production:
money-making-app - The "product"

In this scenario, you can configure each Target individually to preload different applications in its image.

Configure this with additional variables for ref_options.

      APP_SHORTLIST: "<app1>,<app2>,<...>"
      ASSEMBLE_SYSTEM_IMAGE: "<1|0>  "
  • APP_SHORTLIST - Overrides the list of application.
  • ASSEMBLE_SYSTEM_IMAGE - To enable|disable preloading Apps.

Assume you want to produce the following types of Targets:

  • devel preloaded with the money-making-app and debug-tools.
  • main and production preloaded with the money-making-app.
  • experiemental will not preload anything .

Configure this in factory-config.yml with:

   # Use a "production" branch, that may have some special platform
   # features enabled/disabled. However, it still uses the containers
   # from master for its apps:
      - tag: production
        inherit: main

    enabled: true
    shortlist: "money-making-app"

    # Changes to containers main create both "main" and "production" tagged Targets.
      - tag: main
      - tag: production
      - tag: devel

        APP_SHORTLIST: "money-making-app,debug-tools"
        # Don't produce a preloaded system image

With this configuration, the Factory will produce Targets with the correct apps preloaded and enabled by default.