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How To Fix Error - Exec User Process Caused: Exec Format ?

In this post, we will explore How To Fix - "Exec User Process Caused: Exec Format". This error might occur while building\deploying applications using Docker and Kubernetes. Sample Error:

standard\_init\_linux.go:123: exec user process caused: exec format error


Primitive Checks:

Often while building Docker images in a specific type of OS, the same image might not work on another OS when you try to start the containers. This can also happen when your host machine has a different architecture from your guest container image. e.g. code compiled for ARM platform might give issue while trying to run on an X86-64 platform.: you would see the same error with or without containers. Although there could be slightly variation to this fact. As in, we can use ARM architectures in AWS ECS - we don't have to build it on a server. OR running an arm container on a host with x86-64 architecture. We have to take care of that. Ideally you should build the docker image using the target OS in mind i.e. where ultimately the docker image is going to run to spin containers. When running an image with multi-platform support, docker automatically selects the image that matches the OS and architecture. Most of the Docker Official Images support  variety of architectures - amd64, arm32v5, arm32v6, arm32v7, arm64v8, i386, ppc64le, s390x etc. While running the image on an x86_64 / amd64 machine, the amd64 variant is pulled and run. As a next step, Docker is now making even more easier to build containers on and for Arm servers and devices. The standard Docker tooling and processes suppoorts, build, push, pull, and running of images on different compute architectures.  

Solution 1 :

BuildKit with Buildx is designed to work for multiple platforms - not just restricted to the architecture and operating system that the user invokes the build. When you start the build, you can use the "platform" flag to specify the target platform for the build output (e.g. linux/amd64, linux/arm64, or darwin/amd64). So while building the image, mention the platform details as shown below -

docker buildx build --platform=linux/amd64 -t <image-name> .

List the existing builders - displays the default builtin driver (that uses the BuildKit)

docker buildx ls

Create a new builder using the docker-container driver to enable multi-platform builds.

docker buildx create --name <your\_build\_name> --driver docker-container --bootstrap

Use the new builder

docker buildx use <your\_build\_name>

Build the Dockerfile with buildx - mention the list of architectures for which it is built

docker buildx build --platform linux/amd64,linux/arm64,linux/arm/v7 -t <username>/<image>:latest --push .

The image will be available on Docker Hub with the tag /:latest. Based on the platform, we used while building, this image can run containers on architectures like Amazon EC2 Graviton instances, Raspberry Pi etc. Docker pulls the correct image for the current architecture - 32-bit, 64-bit. The important thing is the "buildx" part - with this multi-arch build command, we can specify the architectures and ship these containers together.

  • The new client Docker Buildx, is a CLI plugin.
  • It extends the docker command with the full support of the features provided by BuildKit builder toolkit.
  • docker buildx build command provides the same user experience as docker build. But comes with many new additional features. e.g. creating scoped builder instances, building against multiple nodes concurrently, outputs configuration, inline build caching, and specifying target platform.
  • Buildx also supports features - not yet available for regular docker build like building manifest lists, distributed caching, and exporting build results to OCI image tarballs.

Solution 2 :

Alternatively you can build multi-platform images using three different strategies that are supported by Buildx and Dockerfiles:

  • Using the QEMU emulation support in the kernel
It  is easiest way to get started if the node already supports it e.g. Docker Desktop. No changes to Dockerfile. BuildKit automatically detects the available secondary architectures. You would require a kernel >= 4.8 and binfmt-support >= 2.1.7.

docker run --privileged --rm tonistiigi/binfmt --install all


  • Multiple native nodes build using the same builder instance. "append" flag supports additional nodes to the builder instance.
Below is example of node-amd64 and node-arm64

docker buildx create --use --name <your\_build\_name> node-amd64
docker buildx create --append --name <your\_build\_name> node-arm64
docker buildx build --platform linux/amd64,linux/arm64 .


  • Dockerfile stage to cross-compile to different architectures
If cross-compilation is supported, based on language, use multi-stage build in Dockerfile to build binaries for the platform specified with --platform using the native architecture of the build node. You can use Dockerfile build arguments e.g. BUILDPLATFORM and TARGETPLATFORM.

FROM --platform=$BUILDPLATFORM golang:alpine AS build
RUN echo "Run on $BUILDPLATFORM" > /log
RUN echo "Target platform $TARGETPLATFORM" > /log
FROM alpine
COPY --from=build /log /log


Solution 3 :

  • Check the shebang. Is it correctly put ?
  • The shebang must be the first line.
  • It is interpreted by the kernel. The characters #! have to be the first two bytes in the file. If these are #! the rest of the line is interpreted as the executable to run and with the script file available to the program.
  • Many  a times, it is the missing of the shebang that causes the issue.
  #!/bin/sh     --> for shell script #!/usr/bin/env     --> for bash script #!/bin/ash     --> for alpine (without bash) script #!/usr/bin/env python    --> for python script - whatever is the your defualt python   Hope this helps to fix the issue.    

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