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Build Rust application containers

This tutorial shows how you can use a Harness Continuous Integration (CI) pipeline to build a multi-architecture Rust application container image and push it to a Docker container registry.

You'll learn how to:

  • Create projects in your Harness account.
  • Add secrets to projects.
  • Add a Docker Registry Connector to a project.
  • Use a CI pipeline to build and push a multi-architecture Rust application container image.

In this tutorial, you'll use Rust to build a simple REST API called greeter-api.


In addition to a Harness account, you need the following accounts and tools:


If you don't have a Harness account yet, you can create one for free at

Configure the container registry

To avoid scenarios where builds only work on specific machines, you can use Docker containers to provide clean environments that run specified toolsets. This is a DevOps best practice that helps identify potential problems throughout development.

Drone by Harness is an open source CI platform that helps developers build and test on local machines without manually installing different tools for each language.

Before building the application, you need a location to store build artifacts, which are also known as container images. Externally-hosted locations are ideal because they are more accessible. Container image storage spaces are called Container Registries. Examples of container registry providers include Docker Hub,, Harbor, Google Artifact Registry (GAR), and Elastic Container Registry (ECR).

This tutorial pushes a fruits-api application container image to a DockerHub repository named fruits-api. You can use another container registry if you prefer.

  1. Create a public repository named fruits-api in your container registry.

Fruits API Docker Repository

  1. Test your fruits-api repository by manually building and pushing an application image to the registry. First, log in to the DockerHub account associated with the fruits-api repository:

     echo -n "$DOCKER_HUB_PASSWORD" |\
    docker login -u `$DOCKER_HUB_USERNAME` --password-stdin
  2. This tutorial uses a sample repo referred to as the tutorial repo or $TUTORIAL_GIT_REPO. Clone the tutorial repo:

    #  clone rust-greeter repository
    git clone \
    && cd "$(basename "$_" .git)"
    # navigate to the clone repository folder
    export TUTORIAL_HOME="$PWD"

    GitHub CLI is useful for working with GitHub repositories on the command line.

  3. Fork the tutorial repository:

    gh repo fork

    You can also fork the tutorial repo from the GitHub web UI.

Use Drone to build and push an image

Run a simple Drone pipeline locally to build and push an application image from your computer to your fruits-api repository.

  1. Copy $TUTORIAL_HOME/.env.example to $TUTORIAL_HOME/.env:

    cp $TUTORIAL_HOME/.env.example $TUTORIAL_HOME/.env
  2. Edit the $TUTORIAL_HOME/.env as follows, replacing $DOCKER_HUB_USERNAME, DOCKER_HUB_PASSWORD with the username and password for the DockerHub account associated with the fruits-api repository:
  3. Use Drone to build the image and push it to DockerHub:

    drone exec --trusted --env-file=.env

This command runs a simple pipeline. The pipeline's push step uses drone-docker-buildx, which can build multi-architecture container images. The pipeline you'll create in this tutorial builds linux/arm64 and linux/amd64 images.

Pipeline Steps

  1. Wait while the pipeline runs. It can take some time to build and push, because Drone tries to pull container images if they don't already exist. A successful run produces output similar to the following:

    [push:350] The push refers to repository [$DOCKER_HUB_USERNAME/rust-greeter:0.0.1]
    [push:351] 639e874c7280: Preparing
    [push:352] 96e320b34b54: Preparing
    [push:353] c306578afebb: Preparing
    [push:354] 96e320b34b54: Layer already exists
    [push:355] c306578afebb: Pushed
    [push:356] 639e874c7280: Pushed
  2. To check the pushed image, navigate to$DOCKER_HUB_USERNAME/rust-greeter.

If you monitored your machine while running drone exec, you may have noticed a temporary slowdown. This might not be a problem for a single engineer, but scaling this process up to dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of engineers can strain system resources. Fortunately, modern continuous integration platforms use distributed nodes to support infrastructure at scale. Harness CI supports scaling and helps you externalize, centralize, and automate the build processes, as demonstrated in the next part of this tutorial.

Build the Harness CI pipeline

The drone exec command you ran in the previous section is adequate while you're learning or building locally for yourself. However, when working on a team to deliver enterprise applications, you need to offload, centralize, and automate this process. With Harness CI, you can create pipelines that make your build processes repeatable, consistent, and distributed.

The rest of this tutorial shows how to create a Harness CI pipelines that mimics the local drone exec steps that build and push a multi-architecture application container image to a container registry.

While the Harness platform has several modules, this tutorial focuses on the Continuous Integration (CI) module. If you don't already have a Harness account, sign up for a Harness account.

Harness Signup

Compare build infrastructure options

Pipelines require build infrastructure to run. When you create CI pipelines, you can use either Harness-hosted infrastructure or bring your own build infrastructure. This tutorial uses Harness-hosted infrastructure, also called Harness Cloud.

Harness Cloud uses Harness-hosted machines to run builds. Harness maintains and upgrades these machines, which gives you more time to focus on development.

Harness CI Hosted Overview

With self-hosted build infrastructure, your pipelines run on your local machines or your Kubernetes clusters. To learn about self-hosted options, go to Set up build infrastructure.

Harness CI Bring Your Own Overview

Create a GitHub personal access token

For this tutorial, Harness needs access to your fork of the tutorial repo on GitHub. GitHub personal access tokens are the preferred mode for providing Github credentials.

The GitHub documentation explains how to Create a personal access token.

If you are using an existing personal access token, make sure it has the admin:repo_hook and user scopes.

GitHub PAT


The token is displayed only one time. Copy the token and save it to your password manager or another secure place. The rest of this tutorial refers to this token value as $GITHUB_PAT.

Create a project

In the Harness Platform, you declare and configure resources, such as pipelines, secrets, and connectors. The availability of these resources depends on the scope where the resource was declared. Resources can be available across an entire account, to an organization within an account, or limited to a single project. For this tutorial, you'll create all resources at the project scope.

  1. Log in to your Harness account that you created earlier and create a project. If you haven't created a project before, select Create a project. If you've already created a project, select the active project on the navigation menu, select View All Projects, and then select New Project.

    New Project

  2. Name the new project Greeter API, leave the other options as their defaults, and then select Save and Continue.

    Create Fruits API Project

  3. Select the Continuous Integration module, and then select Go to Module.

    Module CI

Create a pipeline

The Harness CI pipeline wizard creates a basic pipeline for you.

  1. Select Get Started to launch the pipeline wizard.

    Get Started

  2. If you do not have any Git repository connectors at either the account or organization level, select GitHub as the repository type, select the Access token authentication method, input your GitHub personal access token ($GITHUB_PAT) in the Access Token field, and select Test Connection to verify your credentials.

    SCM Choice

  3. Select Next: Select Repository, choose your fork of the tutorial repo rust-greeter, and then select Next: Configure Pipeline.

    Rust Source Repo


    Make sure you choose your personal fork of the tutorial repo.

    If your account has a Git repo connector at the account or organization level, the wizard may generate a list of repositories for you to choose from.

    If the wizard generated a list of repos but your tutorial repo fork isn't listed, then you need to add a GitHub connector so that Harness can access your tutorial repo fork. Since you can't add a new connector in the wizard, you can turn off Clone Git Repository and then configure your pipeline's Codebase after exiting the wizard.

  4. Select Starter Pipeline and then select Create Pipeline.

    Select starter pipeline.

You can use either the visual editor or the YAML editor to add pipeline steps. This tutorial uses the visual editor.

Pipeline Visual

Initially, your starter pipeline has a single stage, called Build, and single step, called Echo Welcome Message. You'll modify this stage so that the pipeline builds and pushes a multi-architecture Rust application container image to DockerHub. However, first you must configure additional resources that the steps require, namely secrets and connectors.

Create a DockerHub password secret

  1. Under Project Setup, select Secrets.

    Project Secrets

  2. Select New Secret, and then select Text.

    New Text Secret

  3. On the Add new Encrypted Text window, populate the fields as follows, and then select Save.

    • Secrets Manager: Harness Built-in Secret Manager
    • Secret Name: dockerhub password
    • Secret Value: DockerHub password for the account associated with the fruits-api repo
    • Description and Tags: Optional

    Docker Hub Password

  4. On the secrets list, make a note of the id for the dockerhub password. You need this id later for your CI pipeline.

Create a DockerHub Registry connector

You must add a connector that allows Harness to connect to your DockerHub container registry.

  1. Under Project Setup, select Connectors.

    Project Connectors

  2. Select New Connector and then select Docker Registry,

    Docker Registry Connector

  3. Follow the prompts in the new connector wizard. On the Overview page, enter docker hub as the connector Name. Then select Continue to configure the credentials.

    Docker Connector Overview

  4. On the Details page, select DockerHub as the provider type, and then enter the URL for the Docker registry where you created the fruits-api repo.

  5. For Authentication, select Username and Password, enter the DockerHub username, select the dockerhub password secret that you created earlier, and then select Continue.

    Docker Connector Credentials

  6. Select Connect through Harness Platform.

    Docker Connector Connectivity Mode

  7. Select Save and Continue to run the connection test,

    Docker Connector Success

  8. If the connection is successful, select Finish.

    Connectors List

Add service dependency, wait, and test steps

  1. Go back to Pipelines and select the Build rust-greeter pipeline that you created earlier.

    Pipelines List

  2. Select the Build stage.

    Build Pipeline

  3. Delete the Echo Welcome Message step by selecting the x that appears when you hover over the step.

  4. Select Save to save the pipeline.

Next, you'll use a Background step to add a dependent service called rgreeter.

How can Harness pipeline steps connect to dependent services?

Harness pipelines support a concept called Service Dependencies, which are detached services that are accessible to all steps in a stage. Service dependencies support workflows such as:

  • Integration testing: Set up a service and then run tests against that service.
  • Running Docker-in-Docker: Set up a DinD service to process Docker commands in Run steps.

Later in this tutorial, you'll use the Integration testing workflow to make a step called test connect to a dependent service called rgreeter and run integration test cases against it.

  1. Select Add Step, select Add Step again, and then select Background from the Step Library.

  2. Configure the standard step settings as follows:

    • Name: rgreeter
    • Description: runs the Greeter API service.
    • Shell: Bash
    • Command: cargo run --target-dir=/tmp/build

    Background rgreeter Step

  3. Expand Additional Configuration. Select your DockerHub connector for the Container Registry, and then specify the Image as <your_DockerHub_registry>/rust-zig-builder:v0.1.0.

  4. Add the following two Environment Variables:


    Background rgreeter Step Env

  5. Select Apply Changes to save the step, and then select Save to save the pipeline.

When the pipeline runs, the rgreeter service takes a few minutes to start up. To prevent steps from running before the service starts, add a wait to the pipeline.

  1. Select Add Step, select Add Step again, and then select Run from the Step Library.
  2. Configure the standard step settings as follows:
  • Name: wait for service

  • Description: wait for the rgreeter service to be ready.

  • Shell: Sh

  • Command:

    apk add -U --no-cache curl
    until curl --output /dev/null --silent --head --fail $SERVICE_URL ; do sleep 5; done;
  1. Expand Additional Configuration. Select your DockerHub connector for the Container Registry, and then specify the Image as alpine.

    Configure Wait Service

  2. The wait step needs the URL of the rgreeter service from the Background step. This URL is usually formed from the service ID and port number. In your Run step's Environment Variables, add an environment variable called SERVICE_URL with the value http://rgreeter:8080.

    Configure Wait Service Env

  3. Select Apply Changes to save the step, and then select Save to save the pipeline.

  4. Add another Run step with the following settings:

  • Name: test

  • Description: Run unit and integration tests

  • Shell: Bash

  • Command: cargo test --target-dir=/tmp/build

  • Container Registry: Your DockerHub connector

  • Image: <your_DockerHub_registry>/rust-zig-builder:v0.1.0

    Test Step

  1. For the test step to connect to the rgreeter service, add an environment variable called SERVICE_URL with the value http://rgreeter:8080

    Test environment Variables

  2. Select Apply Changes to save the step, and then select Save to save the pipeline.

  3. Click Run to verify that the pipeline is able to test the Rust application. On the Run Pipeline screen, make sure Git Branch is selected and the Branch Name is set to main. Select Run Pipeline to start the pipeline run.

    Run Pipeline

  4. Wait while the pipeline runs to make sure it succeeds.

    Test Success


    Select a step to view the step's logs.

If your pipeline succeeded, add two more steps to build your Rust application image and push it to your container registry.

Add build and push steps

  1. Go back to the Pipeline Studio. From the build execution page, you can select Edit Pipeline to get back the Pipeline Studio.

  2. Select the Build stage, and add another Run step with the following settings:

    • Name: build
    • Description: Build the application and cross compile the binary with architectures linux/arm64 and linux/amd64
    • Shell: Bash
    • Command: task cross
    • Container Registry: Your DockerHub connector
    • Image: <your_DockerHub_registry>/rust-zig-builder:v0.1.0

    The build step's Command uses Taskfile. Task is a task runner/build tool that aims to be simpler and easier to use than, for example, GNU Make.

    task cross executes the Taskfile.yaml that does cross compilation.

    Build Step

  3. Select Apply Changes to save the step, and then add a final Run step with the following settings:

    • Name: push

    • Description: Publish the multi architecture images to container registry

    • Shell: Bash

    • Command:

      docker login "$IMAGE_REGISTRY" -u "$IMAGE_REGISTRY_USER" --password-stdin
      docker buildx inspect "buildx-multi-arch" ||\
      docker buildx create --name="buildx-multi-arch" --driver=docker-container --driver-opt=network=host
      docker buildx build --builder="buildx-multi-arch" --push \
      --tag "$IMAGE_REGISTRY/$IMAGE_REPO:latest" \
      --platform="linux/amd64" --platform="linux/arm64" \
      --file Dockerfile "$CONTEXT"

    Step Push

  4. The push step's Command runs the docker buildx build that builds a multi-architecture image for the platforms linux/amd64 and linux/arm64. This script uses several environment variables. You must add these variables to the step's Environment Variables:

    DOCKER_HUB_USERNAMEThe username for the DockerHub account where you want to push the image

    Step Push Env


    The DOCKER_HUB_PASSWORD and IMAGE_TAG environment variable values must be the Expression type. Select the thumbtack to change the value type.

    secrets.getValue is an expression that allows Harness to get the value from your docker_hub_password secret that you created earlier in the tutorial. For more information, go to Add and Reference Text Secrets - Reference encrypted text by identifier.

    codebase.shortCommitSha allows you to get the Git commit short SHA. It is one of several Build-in codebase variables.

  5. Select Apply Changes to save the step, and then select Save to save the pipeline.

    Final Pipeline

  6. Click Run to verify that the pipeline can test, build, and push your multi-architecture Rust application. On the Run Pipeline screen, make sure Git Branch is selected and the Branch Name is set to main. Select Run Pipeline to start the pipeline run.

    Run Pipeline

  7. If the pipeline succeeds, go to your DockerHub repo. Check that the tags latest and last git commit sha are present.


Use Docker Compose to test the application

You can use Docker Compose to test the Rust application, for example:

image: "$DOCKER_HUB_USERNAME/rust-greeter"
pull_policy: always
- RUST_LOG=info
- PORT=8080
- "8080:8080"

Use these URLs to verify the application:

  • http://localhost:8080/: Returns plain text Hello World!
  • http://localhost:8080/: Returns a JSON object containing "message": "Hello! Anonymous!"
  • http://localhost:8080/?name=Jack: Returns a JSON object containing "message": "Hello! Jack!"

Optional exercise: Improve build times

You may have noticed that the Rust build downloads crates from the registry for each step: rgreeter, test and build. You can improve build times by allowing steps to share a cache. For more information, go to Share and Cache CI Data.

If you want to try this with your Rust app tutorial pipeline, you'll need to add two additional steps to create and restore a cache. Here are some hints to help you with this exercise:

  • You need to cache /usr/local/cargo/registry and make it available to all steps.
  • Add one step before rgreeter that restores or downloads the cache.
  • Add one step after push that uploads the cache.

Continue your Continuous Integration journey

With CI pipelines you can consistently execute your builds at any time. Try modifying the pipeline trigger to watch for SCM events so that, for example, each commit automatically kicks off the pipeline. All objects you create are available to reuse in your pipelines.

You can also save your build pipelines as part of your source code. Everything that you do in Harness is represented by YAML; you can store it all alongside your project files.

After you build an artifact, you can use the Harness Continuous Delivery (CD) module to deploy your artifact. If you're ready to try CD, check out the CD Tutorials.