Making Docker and hostapd work together

Mar 14, 2017

At some point, I ran pacman -Syu and was surprised to see that I could no longer connect to the internet from my phone! I use hostapd to use my desktop PC as a wireless hotspot, and something in the update broke my configuration.

I soon discovered that if I disabled the Docker service, then my WiFi would work fine after I restarted my system, but break when I started Docker! So it was some sort of interaction between Docker and the rest of my system.

At first, I thought that the additional docker0 was causing some sort of weird interactions with hostapd. I ran ip route and ip addr before and after starting Docker to see exactly what Docker had changed, and found that it was adding a bridge interface named docker0. I didn’t think that it was interfering with anything, as it was using an unused subnet, but I deleted it anyway: sudo ip link set docker0 down; sudo brctl delbr docker0. Still broken.

I was stuck here for a while. But then I remembered that iptables existed. My initial reaction was to uninstall iptables, but as it turns out, iptables is a critical component of my system:

$ sudo pacman -R iptables
checking dependencies...
error: failed to prepare transaction (could not satisfy dependencies)
:: iproute2: removing iptables breaks dependency 'iptables'
:: libvirt: removing iptables breaks dependency 'iptables'
:: systemd: removing iptables breaks dependency 'iptables'

So I ran sudo iptables -S (DigitalOcean’s docs are great) before and after starting Docker the same way as before, and found that Docker changed the rules from



-A FORWARD -o docker0 -j DOCKER
-A FORWARD -o docker0 -m conntrack --ctstate RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
-A FORWARD -i docker0 ! -o docker0 -j ACCEPT
-A FORWARD -i docker0 -o docker0 -j ACCEPT

The new configuration drops all packets passing through br-inet, which explains why my phone was unable to connect to the internet. The fix is straightforward: just tell iptables to allow packets to be forwarded through br-inet by running sudo iptables -A FORWARD -i br-inet -j ACCEPT.

Well, then I had to make this happen automatically at startup. I found this superexchange answer, and sudo iptables-save | sudo tee /etc/iptables/iptables.rules quickly took care of that.

After a reboot everything works as expected: my phone has internet, and so do my docker containers and system.