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How to Setup Nexus 3 as your Windows Docker Container Registry

Rene Van Osnabrugge

My customer uses Sonatype Nexus as their artifact repository for all kinds of packages and also for Docker Containers. Since there are a few Microsoft .Net teams are moving towards Docker, the need for Docker containers arose as well.

So we created a Windows Base container and tried to push this to the Nexus repository. But unfortunately, this threw an error.

58c642e95314: Skipped foreign layer
6c357baed9f5: Skipped foreign layer
blob unknown: blob unknown to registry
blob unknown: blob unknown to registry

In first instance I thought that it was that Sonatype did not support Windows Containers or that the installation was strange, so I started fiddling with it. (Spoiler alert:  it is not a Windows Container problem, it is a Foreign Layer Problem.)

Setting up a Demo Environment

To get started easily I spun up a Linux Machine on Azure with Docker Installed. On this machine I ran the Nexus3 Docker Container, to get a fresh Nexus3 installation

docker run -p 8081:8081 -p 8082:8082 -p 8083:8083 sonatype/nexus3

After that I configured my Nexus as described in this post. I ended up with a private repository on port 8083 and a proxy for Docker Hub on port 8082 on my public IP address of my Linux machine on Azure.

To make this accessible, the ports on the network security group should be opened as well. So in the Azure Portal (or with the CLI) open the inbound ports for 8082, 8081 and 8083 to access your Nexus server

Using the registry

When everything was set up correctly, I set up my Docker for Windows Client to use Windows Containers, and logged in to the registry.

Docker Settings with Nexus Repository

docker login -u admin -p admin123

(note that the default Nexus Username / Password is admin/admin123)

In order to push an images to this registry you have to tag a default image to this registry

docker tag microsoft/nanoserver

Then push the image

docker push

Now you get either the error I showed you above or

http: server gave HTTP response to HTTPS client

Understand and Fix the Errors

So the error consists of 3 parts that are interrelated. The first part is about the HTTPS error. You need to specify to your Docker client that you want to use an insecure registry. You can do that by either adding this to the Daemon Tab in the Docker Settings on your client, or by adding it to the daemon.json file by hand located in C:\ProgramData\Docker\config

Add your registry to the “insecure-registries” array in this file

 "registry-mirrors": [],
 "insecure-registries": [
 "debug": true,
 "experimental": true

When you add this and restart Docker (Docker/Settings/Reset/Restart) you can push and get the “blob unknown” error. You also see the “skipped Foreign Layer” pooping up. Those 2 are related. Foreign Layers are actually links to layers on another URL. In case of Windows Images, the base layers are not distributed (licensing). And now comes the good part, Nexus does not support Foreign Layers, as described in this issue.

So it is not a Windows Container problem, it is a Foreign Layer Problem. Now how to solve it. The same as with the insecure registries, you can force your client to push the foreign layers in any case. You can do that by adding the following lines to your daemon.config

"allow-nondistributable-artifacts": [

This forces the client to push the image. After restarting the images pushes fine ! and can be pulled as well. For more information on the Docker Daemon, look at this documentation

Hope this helps!

About Rene Van Osnabrugge

I work as Lead Consultant at Xpirit. My personal motto is: "Continuous improvement!" I seek challenge in the fact that there is always a better way. I always try to push that extra step to achieve optimal results. Currently, Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is the perfect way to implement my motto. By using the right methods and tools I help organizations, departments, processes and people to improve in the field of software development.

Because of my contributions to the community I was rewarded with the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015

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Written by Rene Van Osnabrugge