Customize the docker0 bridge

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The information in this section explains how to customize the Docker default bridge. This is a bridge network named bridge created automatically when you install Docker.

Note: The Docker networks feature allows you to create user-defined networks in addition to the default bridge network.

By default, the Docker server creates and configures the host system’s docker0 a network interface called docker0, which is an ethernet bridge device. If you don’t specify a different network when starting a container, the container is connected to the bridge and all traffic coming from and going to the container flows over the bridge to the Docker daemon, which handles routing on behalf of the container.

Docker configures docker0 with an IP address, netmask, and IP allocation range. Containers which are connected to the default bridge are allocated IP addresses within this range. Certain default settings apply to the default bridge unless you specify otherwise. For instance, the default maximum transmission unit (MTU), or the largest packet length that the container will allow, defaults to 1500 bytes.

You can configure the default bridge network’s settings using flags to the dockerd command. However, the recommended way to configure the Docker daemon is to use the daemon.json file, which is located in /etc/docker/ on Linux. If the file does not exist, create it. You can specify one or more of the following settings to configure the default bridge network:

  "bip": "",
  "fixed-cidr": "",
  "fixed-cidr-v6": "2001:db8::/64",
  "mtu": 1500,
  "default-gateway": "",
  "default-gateway-v6": "2001:db8:abcd::89",
  "dns": ["",""]

Restart Docker after making changes to the daemon.json file.

The same options are presented as flags to dockerd, with an explanation for each:

  • --bip=CIDR: supply a specific IP address and netmask for the docker0 bridge, using standard CIDR notation. For example:

  • --fixed-cidr=CIDR and --fixed-cidr-v6=CIDRv6: restrict the IP range from the docker0 subnet, using standard CIDR notation. For example: This range must be an IPv4 range for fixed IPs, such as, and must be a subset of the bridge IP range (docker0 or set using --bridge). For example, with --fixed-cidr=, IPs for your containers will be chosen from the first half of addresses included in the subnet.

  • --mtu=BYTES: override the maximum packet length on docker0.

  • --default-gateway=Container default Gateway IPV4 address and --default-gateway-v6=Container default gateway IPV6 address: designates the default gateway for containers connected to the docker0 bridge, which controls where they route traffic by default. Applicable for addresses set with --bip and --fixed-cidr flags. For instance, you can configure --fixed-cidr= and default-gateway=

  • --dns=[]: The DNS servers to use. For example: --dns=

Once you have one or more containers up and running, you can confirm that Docker has properly connected them to the docker0 bridge by running the brctl command on the host machine and looking at the interfaces column of the output. This example shows a docker0 bridge with two containers connected:

$ sudo brctl show

bridge name     bridge id               STP enabled     interfaces
docker0         8000.3a1d7362b4ee       no              veth65f9

If the brctl command is not installed on your Docker host, then on Ubuntu you should be able to run sudo apt-get install bridge-utils to install it.

Finally, the docker0 Ethernet bridge settings are used every time you create a new container. Docker selects a free IP address from the range available on the bridge each time you docker run a new container, and configures the container’s eth0 interface with that IP address and the bridge’s netmask. The Docker host’s own IP address on the bridge is used as the default gateway by which each container reaches the rest of the Internet.

# The network, as seen from a container

$ docker run --rm -it alpine /bin/ash

root@f38c87f2a42d:/# ip addr show eth0

24: eth0: <BROADCAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc pfifo_fast state UP group default qlen 1000
    link/ether 32:6f:e0:35:57:91 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
    inet scope global eth0
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
    inet6 fe80::306f:e0ff:fe35:5791/64 scope link
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

root@f38c87f2a42d:/# ip route

default via dev eth0 dev eth0  proto kernel  scope link  src

root@f38c87f2a42d:/# exit

Remember that the Docker host will not be willing to forward container packets out on to the Internet unless its ip_forward system setting is 1 – see the section on Communicating to the outside world for details.

docker, bridge, docker0, network