Remote BuildKit


This guide is related to self-hosting a remote BuildKit, however, Self-Hosted Satellites beta are now available. Self-Hosted Satellites provide more features, have better security, and are easier to deploy than remote BuildKit. Check out the Self-Hosted Satellites Guide for more details. If your use case cannot tolerate a cloud-based control plane, however, then self-hosting a remote BuildKit is still supported.


In some cases, you may want to run a remote instance of earthly/buildkitd. This guide is intended to help you identify if you might benefit from this configuration, and to help you set it up correctly.

If you are looking for a way to use remote runners without the complexities of managing them yourself, you may want to consider Earthly Satellites: remote runners managed by Earthly.

Why Remote?

Running a remote daemon is a unique feature of Earthly. It allows the build to happen elsewhere; even when executing it from your local development machine. The key benefit of remote execution is having instant access to the cache, thus making builds dramatically faster compared to many traditional CI setups that require uploading and downloading the cache.

Running Remote BuildKit

To run a remote BuildKit instance, deploy and configure the image earthly/buildkitd.


A remote daemon should be reachable by all clients intending to use it. Earthly uses ports 8371-8373 to communicate, so these should be open and available.



This path within the container is the location that BuildKit uses for storing the cache. Because this folder sees a lot of traffic, its important that it remains fast.


We strongly recommend using a Docker volume for mounting /tmp/earthly. If you do not, buildkitd can consume excessive disk space, operate very slowly, or it might not function correctly.

In some environments, not mounting /tmp/earthly as a Docker volume results in the following error:

--> WITH DOCKER RUN --privileged ...
rm: can't remove '/var/earthly/dind/...': Resource busy

In EKS, users reported that mounting an EBS volume, instead of a Kubernetes emptyDir worked.

This part of our documentation needs improvement. If you have a Kubernetes-based setup, please let us know how you have mounted EARTHLY_TMP_DIR and whether WITH DOCKER worked well for you.


To configure an earthly/buildkitd daemon as a remotely available daemon, you will need to start the container yourself. See our configuration docs for more details on all the options available; but here are the ones you need to know:


This will configure buildkitd to listen on port 8372. If you would like it to be externally available on a different port, you will need to handle that at the port mapping level. TCP is required for remotely sharing a daemon.


Set this to true for all daemons that will handle production workloads. This daemon by design is an arbitrary code execution machine, and running it without any kind of mTLS configuration is not recommended.

Make sure you mount your certificates and keys in the correct location (/etc/*.pem).

For complete details, see the documentation for earthly/buildkitd on DockerHub.


Normally, Earthly will try to start and manage its own earthly/buildkitd daemon. However, when relying on a remote earthly/buildkitd instance, Earthly will not attempt to manage this daemon. Here are the configuration options needed to use a remote instance:


This is the address of the remote daemon. It should look something like this: tcp://my-cool-remote-daemon:8372. If the hostname is considered to be a "local" one, Earthly will fall back to the Local-Remote behaviors described below. For reference; all IPv6 Loopback addresses,, and [localhost](http://localhost) are considered to be "local". The machine's hostname is not considered "local".

tlsca / tlscert / tlskey

These are the paths to the certificates and keys used by the client when communicating with an mTLS-enabled daemon. These paths are relative to the Earthly config (usually ~/.earthly/config.yaml, unless absolute paths are specified.


TLS will be enabled by default (unless using a local buildkit container). Set this to false when using TLS is not desired.


It is also possible to use the remote protocols (TCP and mTLS) locally, while still letting Earthly manage the daemon container. Earthly will (optionally) generate its own certificates, and connect to the daemon using tcp:// This is a great way to test some of the remote capabilities without having to generate certificates or manage a separate machine.

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