Run Docker containers on Mesos with Sidecar service discovery!

Sidecar Executor

Run Docker containers on Mesos with Sidecar service discovery! We’re running it with HubSpot’s Singularity scheduler.

This is a Mesos executor that integrates with the service discovery platform Sidecar to more tightly tie Sidecar into the Mesos ecosystem. The main advantage is that the executor leverages the service health checking that Sidecar already provides in order to fail Mesos tasks quickly when they have gone off the rails.

With Sidecar and Sidecar Executor you get service health checking unified with service Discovery, regardless of which Mesos scheduler you are running. The system is completely scheduler agnostic to the extent possible.

Note that unlike Sidecar, Sidecar Executor assumes that tasks are to be run as Docker containers. You may of course still integrate non-Dockerized services with Sidecar as normal.

Subset of Features

This executor does not attempt to support every single option that Docker can support for running containers. It supports the core feature set that most people actually use. If you are looking for something that it doesn’t currently provide, pull requests or feature requests are welcome.

###Currently supported: * Environment variables * Docker labels * Exposed port and port mappings * Volume binds from the host * Network mode setting * Capability Add * Capability Drop

This set of features probably supports most of the production containers out there.


This executor tries to expose as much information as possible to help with the painful task of debugging a Mesos task failure. It logs each of the actions that it takes and why. And, on startup it logs both the current environment variables which the executor will run with, the settings for the executor, and the Docker environment that will be supplied to the container. This can be critical in understanding how a task failed.

Running the Executor

A separate copy of the executor is started for each task. The binary is small and only uses a few MB of memory so this is fairly cheap.

But, since the executor will always be running as long as your task, it will have the file open and you won’t be ablet to replace it (e.g. to upgrade) while the task is running. It’s thus recommended that you run the script as the actual executor defined in each of your tasks. That will in turn copy the binary from a location of your choosing to the task’s sandbox and then execute it from there. This means that the copy of the executor used to start the task will remain in the sandbox directory for the life of the task and solves the problem nicely.

To upgrade the executor you can then simply replace the binary in the defined location on your systems and any new tasks will start under the new copy while older tasks remain running under their respective version. By default the shell script assumes the path will be /opt/mesos/sidecar-executor.


Each task can be run with its own executor configuration. This is helpful when in situations such as needing to delay health checking for apps that are slow to start, allowing for longer grace periods or a larger failure count before shooting a container. You may configure the executor via environment variables in the Mesos task. These will then be present for the executor at the time that it runs. Note that these are separate from the environment variables used in the Docker container. Currently the settings available are:

    Setting              Default
	KillTaskTimeout:     5
	HttpTimeout:         2s
	SidecarRetryCount:   5
	SidecarRetryDelay:   3s
	SidecarUrl:          http://localhost:7777/state.json
	SidecarBackoff:      1m5s
	SidecarPollInterval: 30s
	SidecarMaxFails:     3

All of the environment variables are of the form EXECUTOR_SIDECAR_RETRY_DELAY where all of the CamelCased words are split apart, and each setting is prefixed with EXECUTOR_.

  • KillTaskTimeout: This is the amount of time to wait before we hard kill the container. Initially we send a SIGTERM and after this timeout we follow up with a SIGKILL. If your process has a clean shutdown procedure and takes awhile, you may want to back this off to let it complete shutdown before being hard killed by the kernel. Note that unlike the other settings, this, for internal library reasons, is an integer in seconds and not a Go time spec.

  • HttpTimeout: The timeout when talking to Sidecar. The default should be far longer than needed unless you really have something wrong.

  • SidecarRetryCount: This is the number of times we’ll retry calling to Sidecar when health checking.

  • SidecarRetryDelay: The amount of time to wait between retries when contacting Sidecar.

  • SidecarUrl: The URL to use to contact Sidecar. The default will usually be the right setting.

  • SidecarBackoff: How long to wait before we start health checking to Sidecar. You want this value to be longer than the time it takes your process to start up and start responding as healthy on the health check endpoint.

  • SidecarPollInterval: The interval between asking Sidecar how healthy we are.

  • SidecarMaxFails: How many failed checks to Sidecar before we shut down the container? Note that this is not just contacting Sidecar. This is how many affirmed unhealthy checks we need to receive, each spaced apart by SidecarPollInterval.

  • DockerRepository: This is used to match the credentials that we’ll store from the Docker config. This will follow the same matching order as described here. The executor expects to use only one set of credentials for each job.

Configuring Docker Connectivity

Sidecar Executor supports all the normal environment variables for configuring your connection to the Docker daemon. It will look for DOCKER_HOST, etc in the runtime environment and configure connectivity accordingly.


Contributions are more than welcome. Bug reports with specific reproduction steps are great. If you have a code contribution you’d like to make, open a pull request with suggested code.

Pull requests should:

  • Clearly state their intent in the title
  • Have a description that explains the need for the changes
  • Include tests!
  • Not break the public API

Ping us to let us know you’re working on something interesting by opening a GitHub Issue on the project.

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