GraalVM native image multistage Docker builds

GraalVM native image can be used to create tiny Docker images as described here.

Here’s how to use a multistage Docker build to build the image and produce the final image. Very useful for a real build pipeline or if you’re on Mac or Windows machine.

We assume that your application is available as app.jar in the Docker context. The Dockerfile has two stages:

  • Building the native image
  • Building the final application image
FROM oracle/graalvm-ce:20.0.0-java11 AS build
RUN gu install native-image
COPY app.jar /build/
RUN cd build && native-image --static -jar app.jar -H:Name=output

FROM scratch
COPY --from=build /build/output /opt/output
CMD ["/opt/output"]

We start with the base image provided by Oracle. This contains a GraalVM JDK. In stage one we:

  1. Install native-image with gu
  2. Copy the application jar into the image
  3. Run a static native image build

The next stage starts from scratch as we have a static binary with all its dependencies included so we don’t need an operating system. Then we:

  1. Copy the native image built in the previous stage to /opt/output
  2. Set the CMD to run the native image

Multi-stage builds allow us to do everything inside a Docker container but still end up with a final image that doesn’t container any of our build dependencies.

The image in this example for a Java application that only uses JDK libraries is ~7MiB.

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