Accessing the host device inside a Docker container


Docker has revolutionized the way developers and system administrators build, package, and deploy software applications. It provides an isolated environment called a container, which allows applications to run consistently across various platforms.

However, sometimes there’s a need to access the host device inside a Docker container. In this article, we will discuss the different methods to achieve this, with practical examples and code snippets.


Before diving into this guide, make sure you have the following:

  1. Docker installed on your host machine.
  2. Basic understanding of Docker concepts, such as images, containers, and volumes.

Methods to Access the Host Device Inside a Docker Container

Using the Docker Host Network

The simplest way to access the host device from inside a Docker container is to use the host’s network stack. By default, Docker containers use a separate network namespace, which isolates them from the host. To use the host’s network, add the --network=host flag when running a Docker container:

docker run --network=host my_container_image

This option allows the container to access all services running on the host, including the host’s IP addresses, ports, and network interfaces. Note that this method may expose your container to security risks, so use it with caution.

Using the Host’s IP Address

Another method to access the host device is to use the host’s IP address. You can find the host’s IP address using the following command:

HOST_IP=$(ip -4 addr show scope global | grep inet | awk '{print $2}' | cut -d / -f 1)

Then, you can pass the IP address to the Docker container as an environment variable:

docker run -e HOST_IP=$HOST_IP my_container_image

Inside the container, you can now use the HOST_IP environment variable to access the host’s services.

Mounting Host Directories as Volumes

Docker allows you to mount host directories as volumes inside containers. This method is useful when you need to share files or directories between the host and the container. To mount a host directory as a volume, use the -v flag:

docker run -v /path/on/host:/path/in/container my_container_image

In this example, /path/on/host is the path to the directory on the host, and /path/in/container is the path where the volume will be mounted inside the container.

Using the --add-host Flag

The --add-host flag enables you to add custom host-to-IP mappings to the container’s /etc/hosts file. This method is useful when you want to access specific services on the host by using hostnames rather than IP addresses:

docker run --add-host=myhost:$HOST_IP my_container_image

Inside the container, you can now use the hostname myhost to access the host device.


Accessing the host device inside a Docker container can be achieved using various methods, such as using the host network, the host’s IP address, mounting host directories as volumes, or adding custom host-to-IP mappings.

Each method has its own advantages and drawbacks, so choose the one that best suits your use case. Remember to consider security implications when exposing your host device to containers.

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