Big News!  Tilt is joining Docker

Setting up any Image Registry

If you’re building container images in dev, you’ll need a place to put those images from which your cluster can pull them.

The Easy Way (for 95% of Users)

Here’s how you set up a dev image registry.

Step 1) Choose a cluster.

Step 2) There is no step 2!!!

Your Registry is Usually Already Set Up For You

For almost all clusters, the cluster will have a registry for you.

  • If you’re using Docker for Desktop, there’s no registry at all. You build directly into the container runtime.

  • If you’re using a local cluster like Kind, our setup scripts will set up a registry for you.

  • If you’re using a remote cluster (like AKS, EKS, GKE, and DigitalOcean Kubernetes), you’ll have a registry that’s colocated with your cluster and well-configured.

Your Registry Secrets are Usually Already Set Up For You

You also don’t have to worry about authentication.

Our local cluster guides set up registries without any auth (because they’re purely local).

If you’re using an authenticated registry, that’s usually not a problem either. Tilt never talks directly to a registry. When Tilt builds images, it tells the image builder to push to the registry when it’s done. If you need to login to a registry, you’ll login with the image builder.

For Docker Hub, you run:

docker login

with a username and password (or token).

Other registries have their own login command, e.g.,

docker login

Some managed Kubernetes services have their own credential helpers:

These will ensure that your login credentials for kubectl and your login credentials for the registry stay in-sync.

What to Put in docker_build

The first argument to docker_build is an image selector.

docker_build('my-image', '.')

my-image will match against any images in your deploy YAML (e.g., your Kubernetes Deployment).

If you’re using a local cluster, don’t worry what the host of the image name is! The main rule is that it needs to match the image name in the YAML. Tilt will automatically inject the fully-qualified image name for the local registry into your deploy YAML.

If you’re using a remote cluster, you should use the registry name in both the docker_build and in your YAML. For example, GKE registries look like `’.

The Medium-Easy Way (for 4% of users)

If you’re using a cluster that doesn’t have a registry, there’s a medium-easy option to get you unblocked fast. is an anoymous, ephemeral image registry that you can use for development. It’s operated by our friends at Replicated.

Add the following function to your Tiltfile:


First, Tilt will try to load the image directly to the cluster (if the cluster supports this.)

If it can’t do that, Tilt will rename the image under the URL, push it to the ephemeral registry, and pull it into your cluster. is encrypted over HTTPS but not authenticated. It will delete your image after an hour. So it’s a good option if you’re trying out a sample project (like one of the Tilt examples).

If you use default_registry, there’s no need to have the registry host in docker_build() or in your deploy YAML.

The Medium Way (for 1% of users)

In almost all cases, it’s OK for a team to all share the same registry.

Tilt uses content-based image tags, so you don’t have to worry about one user overwriting another users’ images if they’re pushing dev images at the same time.

But in some exotic cases, organizations may set up a registry per developer or a registry per team.

Fortunately, the Tiltfile default_registry system can be scripted to support this.

We’re going to modify the Tiltfile to look for a file called tilt_option.json next to the Tiltfile.

You can add more settings here (do different team members want different services to behave differently? Put it in tilt_option.json). For now, we’ll expect the file to either be nonexistent, or JSON like:

  "default_registry": ""

Add this code to the Tiltfile:

settings = read_json('tilt_option.json', default={})
default_registry(settings.get('default_registry', ''))

Add a line to your .gitignore:

# personal tilt settings

Team members don’t need to set anything, but new users can change it without modifying the Tiltfile.

Registries that are Special Snowflakes

When Your Registry Has Multiple URLs

URLs on your laptop resolve differently than URLs in your cluster.

In some cases, the URL of a registry (as seen from your laptop) may be different from the URL of the same registry (as seen from your cluster).

For example, your laptop might push your image to localhost:5000/my-image, while your cluster pulls the image from registry:5000/my-image.

Most modern cluster setup tools try to set up DNS to prevent this from happening. But if you do hit this scenario (and you’ll usually know if you are), you can use the host_from_cluster parameter of default_registry to configure the registry host as referenced from your cluster.


Elastic Container Registry’s Repository Dance

The AWS container registry, ECR, forces you to create a repository ahead of time for each image name.

For teams that use ECR, Tilt offers the option to push all your images to a single repository in the registry.


Teams can have a shared repository, or a repository per developer:

  single_name='%s/dev' % os.environ.get('AWS_USERNAME'))

The Hard Way (for 0% of users)

We don’t expect setting up a registry to be hard!

Every single cloud provider is working to make it as easy as possible (including cloud non-providers like Replicated’s above).

If you’re struggling to set up and authenticate to a registry, come talk to us and a support engineer will point you in the right direction.