Adding a Jenkins Slave

Posted By Barry van Acker on 26 Sep 2018 in CICD in docker |

In this post, we will create a simple Jenkins slave image, capable of compiling Java code. We will register it in the Jenkins master instance that we created during the previous blog post.


We will take a docker image that holds a java environment. On top of that, we will deploy the Jenkins slave binary. It needs to be configured to connect to the master. Finally we add the software to execute the jobs it is required to do.


Remember the microservice principle: make small containers that can do one job well, not one large container that can do everything.

This post is part of a series about creating a continues integration platform for home use.


  Create an artifact repository

  Configure the artifact repository

  Secure the artifact repository

 Create the Jenkins master

 Add a Jenkins slave

 Creating a sample project.

Register the Jenkins slave

We need to register every new slave in Jenkins before it can connect. Go to ‘Manage Jenkins’, ‘Manage Nodes’ and add a ‘New Node’. Provide the default settings like in the picture below:

Save your configuration. You will get a confirmation screen below. It contains one critical piece of information: the secret key needed to connect the slave to Jenkins. Copy the secret key. We will need it in our slave image.


Building the Jenkins slave

Go to your docker-compose folder, and create a new subfolder called ‘slave-java-11’. Copy the slave.jar file which you downloaded in the jenkins master setup blogpost into this folder. Create three files: a Dockerfile and two script files: and If you are working on windows, make sure the line-endings of the script files are in Unix mode, or you will get errors during runtime. Copy-paste the content from below:


You can replace the jenkins_token with the secret key you copied from the slave screen above, but it is not necessary, we will override it in the docker-compose file.

The dockerfile defines a new image based upon the official openjdk image. This image gives us the build tools we are looking for, but conveniently also includes a java runtime that allows us to execute slave.jar. It adds the files from our build folder, so that we can use them inside the image, and assign correct execution rights to the scripts. Finally it sets the defaults for the environment variables. This is more for understanding the image, as we will override the values in docker-compose later on.

The script will be called upon execution of the docker image. We first check if the two Jenkins ports are available, to avoid busy waiting with a lot of spam in the log file. When the ports are available, we start the slave process.

We use a wait script from github [under The MIT License] to wait for the availability of a tcp port on the network before we start the slave.

The scriptfile above is on top of the depends_on statement in the docker compose file. Depends_on only waits untill the dockerfile has begun executing, but the depending image may be started before the depends_on image is actually ready to receive connections. It is beter to wait untill the ports are available, so that our connection attempts will at least reach the process.

Your folder structure should now look like this:


Edit the docker-compose.yml file and add a service for the slave:

This is where we will paste the secret key we copied on the slave screen above. Replace the jenkins_token value 86f28fafeeb1f4500d546f1957df26718a14fbca244605ea5762da9ad2f721e8 with your copy.


Execute the command docker-compose up in the main folder to build the slave image and start the composition.

The slave should show up as an active node in Jenkins master.

Picture with the master and one slave node.

Active Jenkins Nodes


This concludes this post. In the next post, I will go into the configuration of the slave node by creating a sample workflow.


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