Configure automated builds from GitHub

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

If you’ve previously linked Docker Hub to your GitHub account, skip to Creating an Automated Build.

Linking Docker Hub to a GitHub account

Note: Automated Builds currently require read and write access since Docker Hub needs to set up a GitHub webhook. We have no choice here – this is how GitHub manages permissions. We do guarantee nothing else is touched in your account.

To set up an Automated Build of a repository on GitHub, you need to link Docker Hub to your GitHub account. This allows the registry to see your GitHub repositories.

To add, remove or view your linked account, log in to your Docker Hub account. Select Settings > Linked Accounts & Services.


When linking to GitHub, select either Public and Private, or Limited Access.


The Public and Private option is the easiest to use, as it grants the Docker Hub full access to all of your repositories. GitHub also allows you to grant access to repositories belonging to your GitHub organizations.

If you choose Limited Access, Docker Hub only gets permission to access your public data and public repositories.

Follow the onscreen instructions to authorize and link your GitHub account to Docker Hub. Once it is linked, you can choose a source repository from which to create the Automatic Build.

You can review and revoke Docker Hub’s access by visiting the GitHub User’s Applications settings.

Note: If you delete the connection to the GitHub account that is used for one of your automated build repositories, previously built images are still available. If you re-link to that GitHub account later, the automated build can be started using the Start Build button on the Hub, or if the webhook on the GitHub repository still exists, it is triggered by any subsequent commits.

Auto builds and limited linked GitHub accounts

If you chose Limited Access for your Github account connection, after creating your automated build, you will need to either:

  • Manually trigger a Docker Hub build using the Start a Build button, or
  • Add the GitHub webhook manually, as described in GitHub Webhook.

This only works for repositories under the user account, and adding an automated build to a public GitHub organization using a Limited Access link is not possible.

If you want to remove, or change the level of linking between your GitHub account and the Docker Hub, you need to make the change in two places.

First, remove the Linked Account from your Docker Hub Settings. Then go to your GitHub account’s Personal settings, and in the Applications section, Revoke access.

You can now re-link your account at any time.

GitHub organizations

GitHub organizations and private repositories forked from organizations are made available to auto build using the “Docker Hub Registry” application, which needs to be added to the organization - and then applies to all users.

To check, or request access, go to your GitHub Settings page, select the Applications section from the left side bar, then click the View button for “Docker Hub Registry”.

Check User access to GitHub

The organization’s administrators may need to go to the Organization’s Third party access screen in Settings to grant or deny access to the Docker Hub Registry application. This change applies to all organization members.

Check Docker Hub application access to Organization

More detailed access controls to specific users and GitHub repositories can be managed using the GitHub People and Teams interfaces.

Creating an Automated Build

You can create an Automated Build from any of your public or private GitHub repositories that have a Dockerfile.

Once you’ve selected the source repository, you can then configure:

  • The Hub user/org namespace the repository is built to - either your Docker ID name, or the name of any Hub organizations your account is in
  • The Docker repository name the image is built to
  • The description of the repository
  • If the visibility of the Docker repository: “Public” or “Private” You can change the accessibility options after the repository has been created. If you add a Private repository to a Hub user namespace, then you can only add other users as collaborators, and those users can view and pull all images in that repository. To configure more granular access permissions, such as using teams of users or allow different users access to different image tags, then you need to add the Private repository to a Hub organization for which your user has Administrator privileges.
  • Enable or disable rebuilding the Docker image when a commit is pushed to the GitHub repository.

You can also select one or more:

  • The git branch/tag,
  • A repository sub-directory to use as the context,
  • The Docker image tag name

You can modify the description for the repository by clicking the “Description” section of the repository view. The “Full Description” is over-written by the file when the next build is triggered.

GitHub private submodules

If your GitHub repository contains links to private submodules, your build fails.

Normally, the Docker Hub sets up a deploy key in your GitHub repository. Unfortunately, GitHub only allows a repository deploy key to access a single repository.

To work around this, you can create a dedicated user account in GitHub and attach the automated build’s deploy key that account. This dedicated build account can be limited to read-only access to just the repositories required to build.

Step Screenshot Description
1. First, create the new account in GitHub. It should be given read-only access to the main repository and all submodules that are needed.
2. This can be accomplished by adding the account to a read-only team in the organization(s) where the main GitHub repository and all submodule repositories are kept.
3. Next, remove the deploy key from the main GitHub repository. This can be done in the GitHub repository's "Deploy keys" Settings section.
4. Your automated build's deploy key is in the "Build Details" menu under "Deploy keys".
5. In your dedicated GitHub User account, add the deploy key from your Docker Hub Automated Build.

GitHub webhook

A GitHub webhook allows GitHub to notify the Docker Hub when something has been committed to a given git repository.

When you create an Automated Build from a GitHub user that has full Public and Private linking, a Service Hook should get automatically added to your GitHub repository.

If your GitHub account link to the Docker Hub is Limited Access, then you need to add the webhook manually.

To add, confirm, or modify the webhook, log in to GitHub, then navigate to the repository. Within the repository, select Settings > Webhooks. You must have admin privileges on the repository to view or modify this setting. Click Add webhook, and use the following settings:

Field Value
Payload URL
Content type application/json
Which events would you like to trigger this webhook? Just the push event
Active checked

The image below shows the Webhooks/Add webhook form with the above settings reflected:


If configured correctly, you’ll see this in the Webhooks view github-webhook

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