You are currently viewing How to Fix “ Docker compose privileged not working” Error

How to Fix “ Docker compose privileged not working” Error

When we use docker compose sometimes we see a notification that says “Docker compose privileged not working”.  With this guide, we are going to assist you with the troubleshooting of the reasons for this error. We are writing this blog to make it easier for you to fix this error and this is a part of our docker consulting service which is the best in the industry. 

This error can occur due to various reasons. The most common reason for the error “Docker compose privileged not working” is a permission issue. To fix this issue, you should check the permissions of your containers and make sure you set up them correctly. Other than this there can be various reasons for this error, which we are going to discuss in this blog and we’re also going to look at the steps to fix this error successfully. Before that let’s understand what is Docker compose and how to use it to work efficiently.

What is Docker compose?

Docker Compose is a very useful and powerful tool that is used to configure applications and projects with multiple containers. It enables users to define these containers and their settings in a simple file which is called docker-compose.yml. However, sometimes you might run into issues related to privileged. In simple words, these issues can make your containers unable to access certain parts or components of your computer, causing problems.
Using Compose has a big advantage that is you can define your application stack in a file and keep it at the root of your project repository. It easily allows someone else to contribute to your project. Someone would only be required to clone the repository and use compose to start the app. In fact, you will find quite a few projects on several platforms doing exactly this now. However, you’ll get to see “Docker compose privileged not working” error while using docker-compose and there are various reasons for this error. Before that, we’re going to understand what are Privileged problems in Docker.

What Are Privileged Problems in Docker?

When you run containers with Docker, they’re kind of like isolated islands. This isolation is great for security, but it can lead to issues where your containers can’t do everything they need to do. Here are some signs of privilege issues:

  • Containers can’t access certain parts of your computer.
  • They might get “permission denied” errors when trying to do certain things.
  • Sometimes, they can’t even use hardware devices on your computer.

So, let’s look at how to use Privileged” in Docker Compose and troubleshoot or solve these problems:

How to Use “–Privileged” in Docker Compose?

The Docker platform has a privileged mode, which enables programmers to execute containers and gives them access to full host privileged. This mode provides programmers with root credentials. On the other hand, the “docker-compose” command does not provide a “–privileged” option to choose from. Within the compose file, you are permitted to utilize the “privileged” key. 

The steps given will help you understand better.

Step 1: Generate “docker-compose.yml” File

First, you will need to create a file called “docker-compose.yml” and then paste the following instructions into it:

How to Fix “ Docker compose privileged not working” Error

In the preceding block of code:

  • Web” and “Golang” are the two services that have been configured.
  • The “web” service will read the instructions that are contained in the Dockerfile.
  • The “container_name” key is what’s utilized to define the name of the container that will carry out the “web” service’s operation.
  • It is set to “true” for the “privileged” key so that the “web” service container can run with host privileges.
  • The term “ports” refers to the exposed port that is used for the container.
  • The “image” key specifies the standard image used by the “golang” service:
How to Fix “ Docker compose privileged not working” Error

Step 2: Create and Start Container

The next step is to construct the container and start it by executing the “docker-compose up” command. The containers are run in detached mode or in the background when the “-d” option is used:

docker-compose up -d
How to Fix “ Docker compose privileged not working” Error

Step 3: Inspect Container

Check out the given command to determine whether or not the container is operating with host privileges:

  > docker inspect --format='{{.HostConfig.Privileged}}' web-container

If you see the value “true” in the output, this means that the “web-container” process is running in privileged mode:

How to Fix “ Docker compose privileged not working” Error

Go to the given localhost port to see the results from the web service. As you can see, we were able to successfully launch the web service in privileged mode:

How to Fix “ Docker compose privileged not working” Error

We discussed how to use “–privileged” in Docker Compose in more detail while providing you with examples of the code.

Read more: Our Blog Post On docker restart policy

Why “Docker compose privileged not working”

The “privileged” option might not work for a few reasons:

  1. Security Concerns: Docker is designed to be secure by isolating containers from the host system. Making a container privileged means it can break out of this isolation, potentially causing security issues. For security reasons, some environments or systems might disable this option.
  2. External Security Policies: In some cases, your Docker Compose setup might run on an environment that enforces strict security policies. These policies can block or restrict the use of the “privileged” option to prevent security vulnerabilities.
  3. Configuration Errors: Sometimes, the error of the “Docker compose privileged not working” option might also arise due to a mistake in your Docker Compose file. Check the syntax and placement of the “privileged” option within your service definition to ensure it’s set up correctly.
  4. Alternate Solutions: Instead of using the “privileged” option, there might be better and more secure ways to achieve the same goal. It’s a good practice to explore alternatives that don’t require making containers privileged.

Troubleshoot “Docker compose privileged not working”

If the privileged: true doesn’t work correctly, here are some things we can try to fix it:

  1. Check Syntax: Check to see whether we have specified privileged: true in the docker-compose.yml file in the right location under the service definition.
  2. Host Configuration: Ensure that the host system supports running containers with privileged access before moving on to the next step. It’s possible that, depending on the operating system and how Docker was installed, there are particular configurations that prohibit privileged containers from executing.
  3. Docker Version: Verify whether or not we are employing a version of Docker that is either obsolete or incompatible. Some problems with privileges have been fixed in newer versions of Docker. Therefore, installing the most recent update of the software could fix the issue.
  4. Host Security Modules: It is possible that the usage of privileged access is being blocked by the host system’s enabled security modules (for example, SELinux or AppArmor). Examine the module configurations or try to temporarily disable them to see whether or not this is the source of the problem.
  5. Logs and Errors: Check the Docker logs as well as the system logs (for example, dmesg) for any error notices or warnings that may be related to privileged containers. This may provide insight into some of the possible problems.

Check Out: Our blog post on how to install docker on mac


The error of “docker compose privileged not working” in Docker Compose might occur due to security concerns, external policies, configuration errors, or better alternatives. Understanding the root cause of the issue and considering security implications are essential when using this option in your Docker Compose setup.

Docker Compose is great for managing lots of containers, but privilege problems can be a pain. By following these steps and using our solutions, you can make your containers run smoothly. Just remember that Docker and Docker Compose keep changing, so you should always stay up-to-date with best practices and security tips to keep your applications safe and sound.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1. What does the “Docker compose privileged not working” error mean?

This error indicates that there are issues with setting up privileged access for containers in Docker Compose. Containers with privileged access have elevated privileges on the host system.

Q2. What is the “privileged” option in Docker Compose?

The “privileged” option in Docker Compose allows a container to run with elevated privileges, essentially providing it with full access to the host system.

Q3. How do I run a privileged container using Docker Compose?

To run a privileged container, include the “privileged: true” configuration under the specific service in your docker-compose.yml file. This grants the container elevated access to the host system.

Q4. How do I know if my Docker container is privileged?

You can check whether a Docker container is running with privileged access by using the following command:
docker inspect –format ‘{{.HostConfig.Privileged}}’ <container_name_or_id>
If the output is “true,” the container is running in privileged mode; otherwise, it’s not.