Quick Tip: Copy Files from LXC host to LXC Container

- Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Today, I wanted to copy some files to the container filesystem of an lxc container I was spinning up.

There are a number of different approaches to achieve this, and they’re all great, but I wanted the simplest thing I could do, rather than grepping through fstab records, and copying into arcane folders, etc.

I’m using lxc / lxd on Ubuntu Xenial, so it’s a little different than a lot of the advice I found for earlier versions of lxc.

In a nutshell, I just did:

find ~/.ssh/id_rsa* | cpio -o | lxc exec ${CONTAINER_NAME} -- cpio -i -d -v
  • The first command find ~/.ssh/id_rsa* just lists the names of the files that match that search pattern.

  • The output of that is piped to the second command cpio -o, which just encodes the contents of those files as a cpio package and outputs it on stdout.

  • That is piped into the stdin of cpio -i -d -v within the container using the lxc exec ${CONTAINER_NAME} -- <container command> command. Briefly the -d option creates the directories if they are missing, and -v shows the names of the files as they’re being extracted from the stream.


    This works with any process that accepts stdin, for example with ssh:

    find .ssh/id_rsa* | cpio -o | ssh remote-host cpio -i -d -v

    (of course, if you can ssh you might as well use scp to copy the files instead.)