Drivers overview

Buildx drivers are configurations for how and where the BuildKit backend runs. Driver settings are customizable and allows fine-grained control of the builder. Buildx supports the following 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.

Different drivers support different use cases. The default docker driver prioritizes simplicity and ease of use. It has limited support for advanced features like caching and output formats, and isn’t configurable. Other drivers provide more flexibility and are better at handling advanced scenarios.

The following table outlines some differences between drivers.

Feature docker docker-container kubernetes remote
Automatically load image      
Cache export Inline only
Tarball output  
Multi-arch images  
BuildKit configuration   Managed externally

List available builders

Use docker buildx ls to see builder instances available on your system, and the drivers they’re using.

$ docker buildx ls
NAME/NODE       DRIVER/ENDPOINT      STATUS   BUILDKIT PLATFORMS
default         docker
  default       default              running  20.10.17 linux/amd64, linux/386

Depending on your setup, you may find multiple builders in your list that use the Docker driver. For example, on a system that runs both a manually installed version of dockerd, as well as Docker Desktop, you might see the following output from docker buildx ls:

NAME/NODE       DRIVER/ENDPOINT STATUS  BUILDKIT PLATFORMS
default         docker
  default       default         running 20.10.17 linux/amd64, linux/386
desktop-linux * docker
  desktop-linux desktop-linux   running 20.10.17 linux/amd64, linux/arm64, linux/riscv64, linux/ppc64le, linux/s390x, linux/386, linux/arm/v7, linux/arm/v6

This is because the Docker driver builders are automatically pulled from the available Docker Contexts. When you add new contexts using docker context create, these will appear in your list of buildx builders.

The asterisk (*) next to the builder name indicates that this is the selected builder which gets used by default, unless you specify a builder using the --builder option.

Create a new builder

Use the docker buildx create command to create a builder, and specify the driver using the --driver option.

$ docker buildx create --name=<builder-name> --driver=<driver> --driver-opt=<driver-options>

This creates a new builder instance with a single build node. After creating a new builder you can also append new nodes to it.

To use a remote node for your builders, you can set the DOCKER_HOST environment variable or provide a remote context name when creating the builder.

Switch between builders

To switch between different builders, use the docker buildx use <name> command. After running this command, the build commands will automatically use this builder.

What’s next

Read about each of the Buildx drivers to learn about how they work and how to use them: