A builder is a BuildKit daemon that you can use to run your builds. BuildKit is the build engine that solves the build steps in a Dockerfile to produce a container image or other artifacts.

You can create and manage builders, inspect them, and even connect to builders running remotely. You interact with builders using the Docker CLI.

Default builder

Docker Engine automatically creates a builder that becomes the default backend for your builds. This builder uses the BuildKit library bundled with the daemon. This builder requires no configuration.

The default builder is directly bound to the Docker daemon and its context. If you change the Docker context, your default builder refers to the new Docker context.

Build drivers

Buildx implements a concept of build drivers to refer to different builder configurations. The default builder created by the daemon uses the docker driver.

Buildx supports the following build drivers:

  • docker: uses the BuildKit library bundled into the Docker daemon.
  • docker-container: creates a dedicated BuildKit container using Docker.
  • kubernetes: creates BuildKit pods in a Kubernetes cluster.
  • remote: connects directly to a manually managed BuildKit daemon.

Selected builder

Selected builder refers to the builder that's used by default when you run build commands.

When you run a build, or interact with builders in some way using the CLI, you can use the optional --builder flag, or the BUILDX_BUILDER environment variable, to specify a builder by name. If you don't specify a builder, the selected builder is used.

Use the docker buildx ls command to see the available builder instances. The asterisk (*) next to a builder name indicates the selected builder.

$ docker buildx ls
default *       docker
  default       default              running  v0.11.6  linux/amd64, linux/amd64/v2, linux/amd64/v3, linux/386
my_builder      docker-container
  my_builder0   default              running  v0.11.6  linux/amd64, linux/amd64/v2, linux/amd64/v3, linux/386

Select a different builder

To switch between builders, use the docker buildx use <name> command.

After running this command, the builder you specify is automatically selected when you invoke builds.

Additional information

  • For information about how to interact with and manage builders, see Manage builders
  • To learn about different types of builders, see Build drivers