Build container

We use a Docker build container to build our debian packages for SecureDrop (via make build-debs in the securedrop Github repository root directory). We keep images of this our container in a Docker repository at The images are organized by Ubuntu release version. For instance, you can find the images for Focal at

Maintaining images of our build container for each release is our way of recording the exact version of each dependency used to build our production debian packages for SecureDrop.

Who can update the build container?

There are tight restrictions over who can make edits to our Docker repository. If you have permissions to do so, you’ll need to make sure your local Docker client has credentials to push.

  • First login into your account via the web-portal at

  • Drill into your Account settings via the upper right drop-down (where your username is)

  • Click Generate Encrypted Password

  • From a command-line prompt type docker login with your username and credentials obtained from the previous step.

  • Proceed with update instructions

Updating the build container

We know the build container needs to be updated when test_ensure_no_updates_avail fails during make build-debs in the securedrop Github reprository root directory. This test fails if any of the dependencies required to build the debian packages have security updates. If you have access rights to push to, then you can build and push a new container to the Quay repository by following the steps below.


The reason we don’t update the container at runtime is that we use the container image as a way of recording our build environment.

cd molecule/builder/
# Build a new container
make build-container

Once the container is built, you can push the container to the registry.

make push-container

You can now test the container by going back to the SecureDrop repository root:

cd ../..
make build-debs

Assuming no errors here, commit the changes in molecule/builder/image_hash in a branch containing the prefix update-builder-.