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proposed -

This document is a work-in-progress and represents a very early state of the Pods design. Significant aspects are not documented, though we expect to add them in the future. This is one possible architecture for Pods, and we intend to contrast this with alternatives before deciding which approach to implement. This documentation will be kept even if we decide not to implement this so that we can document the reasons for not choosing this approach.

Pods: Container Registry

GitLab Container Registry is a feature allowing to store Docker Container Images in GitLab. You can read about GitLab integration here.

1. Definition

GitLab Container Registry is a complex service requiring usage of PostgreSQL, Redis and Object Storage dependencies. Right now there’s undergoing work to introduce Container Registry Metadata to optimize data storage and image retention policies of Container Registry.

GitLab Container Registry is serving as a container for stored data, but on it’s own does not authenticate docker login. The docker login is executed with user credentials (can be personal access token) or CI build credentials (ephemeral ci_builds.token).

Container Registry uses data deduplication. It means that the same blob (image layer) that is shared between many projects is stored only once. Each layer is hashed by sha256.

The docker login does request JWT time-limited authentication token that is signed by GitLab, but validated by Container Registry service. The JWT token does store all authorized scopes (container repository images) and operation types (push or pull). A single JWT authentication token can be have many authorized scopes. This allows container registry and client to mount existing blobs from another scopes. GitLab responds only with authorized scopes. Then it is up to GitLab Container Registry to validate if the given operation can be performed.

The GitLab.com pages are always scoped to project. Each project can have many container registry images attached.

Currently in case of GitLab.com the actual registry service is served via https://registry.gitlab.com.

The main identifiable problems are:

  • the authentication request (https://gitlab.com/jwt/auth) that is processed by GitLab.com
  • the https://registry.gitlab.com that is run by external service and uses it’s own data store
  • the data deduplication, the Pods architecture with registry run in a Pod would reduce efficiency of data storage

2. Data flow

2.1. Authorization request that is send by docker login

curl \
  --user "username:password" \
  "https://gitlab/jwt/auth?client_id=docker&offline_token=true&service=container_registry&scope=repository:gitlab-org/gitlab-build-images:push,pull"

Result is encoded and signed JWT token. Second base64 encoded string (split by .) contains JSON with authorized scopes.

{"auth_type":"none","access":[{"type":"repository","name":"gitlab-org/gitlab-build-images","actions":["pull"]}],"jti":"61ca2459-091c-4496-a3cf-01bac51d4dc8","aud":"container_registry","iss":"omnibus-gitlab-issuer","iat":1669309469,"nbf":166}

2.2. Docker client fetching tags

curl \
  -H "Accept: application/vnd.docker.distribution.manifest.v2+json" \
  -H "Authorization: Bearer token" \
  https://registry.gitlab.com/v2/gitlab-org/gitlab-build-images/tags/list

curl \
  -H "Accept: application/vnd.docker.distribution.manifest.v2+json" \
  -H "Authorization: Bearer token" \
  https://registry.gitlab.com/v2/gitlab-org/gitlab-build-images/manifests/danger-ruby-2.6.6

2.3. Docker client fetching blobs and manifests

curl \
  -H "Accept: application/vnd.docker.distribution.manifest.v2+json" \
  -H "Authorization: Bearer token" \
  https://registry.gitlab.com/v2/gitlab-org/gitlab-build-images/blobs/sha256:a3f2e1afa377d20897e08a85cae089393daa0ec019feab3851d592248674b416

3. Proposal

3.1. Shard Container Registry separately to Pods architecture

Due to it’s architecture it extensive architecture and in general highly scalable horizontal architecture it should be evaluated if the GitLab Container Registry should be run not in Pod, but in a Cluster and be scaled independently.

This might be easier, but would definitely not offer the same amount of data isolation.

3.2. Run Container Registry within a Pod

It appears that except /jwt/auth which would likely have to be processed by Router (to decode scope) the container registry could be run as a local service of a Pod.

The actual data at least in case of GitLab.com is not forwarded via registry, but rather served directly from Object Storage / CDN.

Its design encodes container repository image in a URL that is easily routable. It appears that we could re-use the same stateless Router service in front of Container Registry to serve manifests and blobs redirect.

The only downside is increased complexity of managing standalone registry for each Pod, but this might be desired approach.

4. Evaluation

There do not seem any theoretical problems with running GitLab Container Registry in a Pod. Service seems that can be easily made routable to work well.

The practical complexities are around managing complex service from infrastructure side.

4.1. Pros

4.2. Cons