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Configuring zot

👉 The registry administrator configures zot primarily through settings in the configuration file.

Using the information in this guide, you can compose a configuration file with the settings and features you require for your zot registry server.

Before launching zot with a new configuration, we recommend that you verify the syntax of your configuration as described in Verifying the configuration file.

Configuration file

The configuration file is a JSON or YAML file that contains all configuration settings for zot functions such as:

  • network
  • storage
  • authentication
  • authorization
  • logging
  • metrics
  • synchronization with other registries
  • clustering

The zot service is initiated with the zot serve command followed by the name of a configuration file, as in this example:

zot serve config.json

✏ The instructions and examples in this guide use zot as the name of the zot executable file. The examples do not include the path to the executable file.

When you first build zot or deploy an image or container from the distribution, a basic configuration file config.json is created. This initial file is similar to the following example:

    "distSpecVersion": "1.0.1",
    "storage": {
        "rootDirectory": "/tmp/zot"
    "http": {
        "address": "",
        "port": "8080"
    "log": {
        "level": "debug"

The configuration file contains the Distribution Specification version (distSpecVersion). The structure and content of other attributes are described in the later sections of this guide.


Additional registry features that are not a part of the Distribution Specification are allowed to be added as Extensions.

With a full (not minimal) zot image, the additional extension features can be enabled and configured under an extensions attribute in the configuration file as shown in the following example.

  "extensions": {
    "metrics": {},
    "sync": {},
    "search": {},
    "scrub": {},
    "lint": {}

⚠ The extension features are available only with a full zot image. With a minimal zot image, the extensions section is ignored if present.

The following features are configured under the extensions attribute.

An extension feature is enabled by the presence of the feature’s attribute under extensions. An extension feature can be disabled by omitting the feature attribute or by including an enable attribute with a value of false.

For example, the scrub feature is enabled in the following cases.

"extensions": {
  "scrub": {}
"extensions": {
  "scrub": {
    "enable": true

The scrub feature is disabled in the following cases.

"extensions": {
"extensions": {
  "scrub": {
    "enable": false

✏ New functionality can be added to the zot registry by developing custom extensions for integration into zot. For information about developing extensions, see Developing New Extensions.

Network configuration

Use the http attribute in the configuration file to configure the zot network settings, as shown in the following example.

"http": {
  "tls": {

The following table lists the configurable attributes.

Attribute Description
address The IP address of the zot server.
port The port number of the zot server.
realm The security policy domain defined for the server.
tls The included attributes in this section specify the Transport Layer Security (TLS) settings for the server.
cert The path and filename of the server’s SSL/TLS certificate.
key The path and filename of the server’s registry key.


Exposing flexibility in storage capabilities is a key tenet for catering to the requirements of varied environments ranging from cloud to on-premises to IoT.

Filesystem storage is configured with the storage attribute in the zot configuration file, as shown in the following simple example.

  "commit": true,
  "dedupe": true,
  "gc": true,
  "gcDelay": "1h",
  "gcInterval": "24h"

With zot, you have the option to store your registry image files either in local filesystem storage or in cloud storage, such as an Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) bucket.

Local storage

zot can store and serve files from one or more local directories (folders). A minimum of one root directory is required for local hosting, but additional hosted directories can be added. When accessed by HTTP APIs, all directories can appear as a single data store.

✏ Remote filesystems that are mounted and accessible locally such as NFS or fuse are treated as local filesystems.

Remote storage

zot can also store data remotely in the cloud, using the storage APIs of the cloud service. Currently, zot supports only the AWS S3 storage service.

For detailed information about configuring S3 storage, see the AWS S3 documentation and Storage Planning with zot.

Storage features


Most modern filesystems buffer and flush RAM data to disk after a delay. The purpose of this function is to improve performance at the cost of higher disk memory usage. In embedded devices such as Raspberry Pi, for example, where RAM may be very limited and at a premium, it is desirable to flush data to disk more frequently. The zot storage configuration exposes an option called commit which, when enabled, causes data writes to be committed to disk immediately. This option is disabled by default.


Deduplication is a storage space saving feature wherein only a single copy of specific content is maintained on disk while many different image manifests may hold references to that same content. The deduplication option (dedupe) is also available for supported cloud storage backends.

Garbage collection

After an image is deleted by deleting an image manifest, the corresponding blobs can be purged to free up space. However, since Distribution Specification APIs are not transactional between blob and manifest lifecycle, care must be taken so as not to put the storage in an inconsistent state. Garbage collection in zot is an inline feature meaning that it is not necessary to take the registry offline. The zot configuration model allows for enabling and disabling garbage collection (gc). The model also allows the configuration of a tunable delay (gcDelay), which can be set depending on client network speeds and the size of blobs.


The scrub function, available as an extension, makes it possible to ascertain data validity by computing hashes on blobs periodically and continuously so that any bit rot is caught and reported early.

Configuring storage

For detailed information about configuring local or remote storage and storage features for your zot registry, see Storage Planning with zot.

Security and hardening


zot supports authentication by the following methods:

  • TLS mutual authentication

  • Basic local authentication using an htpasswd file

  • LDAP authentication

  • Bearer (OAuth2) authentication using an HTTP Bearer token

For detailed information about configuring authentication for your zot registry, see User Authentication and Authorization with zot.

Identity-based authorization

User identity can be used as an authorization criterion for allowing actions on one or more repository paths. For specific users, you can choose to allow any combination of read, create, update, or delete actions on specific repository paths.

For detailed information about configuring access control policies for your zot registry, see User Authentication and Authorization with zot.

Preventing automated attacks with failure delay

Use the auth and failDelay attributes under http in the configuration file to delay the response to an authentication failure. A delayed response helps to prevent automated attacks. The configuration is shown in the following example.

"http": {
  "auth": {
    "failDelay": 5

The failDelay attribute specifies a waiting time, in seconds, before zot sends a failure notification to an authenticating user who has been denied access.

Rate limiting

You can limit the rate of API calls from users by configuring the Ratelimit attribute in the configuration file, as shown in the following example:

"http": {
    "address": "",
    "port": "8080",
    "Ratelimit": {
        "Rate": 10,
        "Methods": [
                "Method": "GET",
                "Rate": 5

In this example, the Rate attribute directly under Ratelimit sets a global rate limit of ten API calls per second. You can optionally override the global limit for specific API Methods. In this example, API GET calls are limited to five per second.

Additional security features

For detailed information about configuring additional security features for your zot registry, see Security Posture.


zot supports a range of monitoring tools including the following:

  • Logging

    Logging for zot operations is configured with the log attribute in the configuration file.

  • Metrics

Metrics data is available in a Prometheus format. A full zot image with extensions includes a node exporter. A minimal zot image can use an external node exporter such as zxp.

  • Benchmarking

The zot project includes the zb tool, which allows you to benchmark a zot registry or any other container image registry that conforms to the OCI Distribution Specification.

When zot is deployed in a Kubernetes setup, a site reliability engineering (SRE) operator can monitor service level indicators (SLI) such as metrics and logs. Metrics will appear in Prometheus using the zot metrics extension, while logs will appear in the Elasticsearch stack (ELK stack) using Filebeat.

For detailed information about the monitoring tools, see Monitoring the registry.

For detailed information about benchmarking, see Benchmarking zot with zb.

Clustering zot

To ensure high-availability of the registry, zot supports a clustering scheme with stateless zot instances/replicas fronted by a loadbalancer and a shared remote backend storage. This scheme allows the registry service to remain available even if a few replicas fail or become unavailable. Loadbalancing across many zot replicas can also increase aggregate network throughput.

For detailed information about clustering with zot, see zot Clustering.

Syncing and mirroring registries

A zot registry can mirror one or more upstream OCI registries, including popular cloud registries such as Docker Hub and Google Artifact Registry. If an upstream registry is OCI distribution-spec conformant for pulling images, you can use zot's sync extension feature to implement a downstream mirror, synchronizing OCI images and corresponding artifacts. Synchronization between registries can be implemented by periodic polling of the upstream registry or synchronization can occur on demand, when a user pulls an image from the downstream registry.

As with git, wherein every clone is a full repository, you can configure a local zot instance to be a full OCI mirror registry. This allows for a fully distributed disconnected container image build pipeline.

For detailed information about syncing and mirroring, see OCI Registry Mirroring With zot.

Linting uploaded images

The lint extension can check an uploaded image to enforce the presence of required annotations such as the author or the license.

To configure linting, add the lint attribute under extensions in the configuration file, as shown in the following example:

"extensions": {
    "lint": {
      "enable": true,
      "mandatoryAnnotations": ["annot1", "annot2", "annot3"]

The following table lists the configurable attributes of the lint extension.

Attribute Description
enable If this attribute is missing, incoming image linting is disabled by default. Linting can be enabled by including this attribute and setting it to true.
mandatoryAnnotations A list of annotations that are required to be present in the image being pushed to the repository.

If the mandatory annotations option is configured when you push an image, linter will verify that the mandatory annotations list present in the configuration is also found in the manifest's annotations list. If any annotations are missing, the push is denied.

Scrubbing the image registry

To check the integrity of the filesystem and the data in the registry, you can schedule a periodic scrub operation. The scrub process traverses the filesystem, verifying that all data blocks are readable. While running, the process may slightly reduce the registry performance.

To enable scrubbing, add the scrub attribute under extensions in the configuration file, as shown in the following example:

"extensions": {
  "scrub": {
    "enable": true,
    "interval": "24h"

The following table lists the configurable attributes for scrubbing the registry.

Attribute Description
enable If this attribute is missing, registry scrubbing is enabled by default. Scrubbing can be disabled by setting this attribute to false.
interval The time interval between periodic scrub operations. This value must be at least two hours (2h).

Enhanced searching and querying images

While basic searching is always enabled for images in the zot registry, you can enable enhanced registry searching and filtering using graphQL.

Add the search attribute under extensions in the configuration file to enable and configure the enhanced search extension, as shown in the following example.

"extensions": {
    "search": {
        "enable": true,
        "cve": {
            "updateInterval": "2h"

The following table lists the configurable attributes for enhanced search.

Attribute Description
enable If this attribute is missing, enhanced search is enabled by default. Enhanced search can be disabled by setting this attribute to false.
cve Extends enhanced search to allow searching of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE).
updateInterval Sets the interval at which the searchable database of CVE items is refreshed.

Verifying the configuration file

Before launching zot, verify the syntax of your configuration file using the following command:

zot verify <configfile>

✏ Verifying the configuration file protects against operator errors and any conflicts arising from zot release version changes.

After verifying your configuration file, you can launch zot with the following command:

zot serve <configfile>

Last update: September 1, 2023