How to run docker containers in Intel/x86 mode on an M1 Mac

Erica Kastner · April 21, 2021

I’m working on a node.js/blitz.js/web project that uses pact via the pact-node package. Unfortunately, this package isn’t compatible with Apple’s M1 (aarm64) chip due to the standalone ruby (Intel/x86-only) that’s packaged with it. Instead of trying to have two node installations for each platform, I decided to try and get docker to build and run my app images using the amd64 platform. And it works!

First, make sure you have the latest docker desktop that supports aarm64 (M1).

Next, create a docker-compose.yml for your app (for now I’m setting up compose so that I have to rebuild docker images on every code change, but you do have the option of mounting your local source directory, though, there are performance penalties to this).

You’ll need to specify that you want to build and run the image/container with the linux/amd64 platform.

# docker-compose.yml

version: "3.8"
      context: .
    platform: "linux/amd64"
    # ...

The tricky part is that you can’t use docker-compose. First, it won’t use docker buildx which has cross-platform building capabilities. Second, for some weird reason, docker-compose 2.4 supported the platform setting but subsequent versions did not.

You have to use the new docker compose command and not the classic docker-compose:

docker compose run app

Possible tie-in with docker buildx

I did this on my local system but not 100% sure if it’s necessary. But it’s a cool feature for managing build environments. Create a docker buildx builder for your local app context:

docker buildx create --platform linux/amd64 --name my-app
docker buildx use my-app

Now when you run docker buildx build -t my-app . it will build the my-app image using the platform specified in the builder you created.

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