Building Multi-Architecture Containers with Buildah

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to move away from Docker as a container runtime on my systems, where possible. All of my K3s hosts are utilizing containerd as their runtime, and I’ve migrated my work and personal systems over to podman. The one area I’ve been having issues with the entire Containers stack is with multi-architecture container building and pushing to a container registry.

With Docker, it’s very easy with docker buildx to build multi-architecture containers. Unfortunately, podman/buildah do not make it as easy, so here’s what you’ll want/need to do!

Linux Requirements

Besides the obvious requirements of podman and buildah, you will require the qemu-user-static package on Debian/Ubuntu/RHEL, and qemu-arch-extra if you’re running on Arch or Manjaro. Simply put, this will allow you to run interpreters that allow QEMU to virtualize non-native architectures, like arm/v7 and aarch64/arm64.


sudo apt install -y podman buildah qemu-user-static

RHEL Flavors

sudo yum install -y podman buildah qemu-user-static


sudo pacman -Sy podman buildah qemu-arch-extra

Building your multi-architecture containers

Building a single container for a different architecture than the hardware you’re building it on isn’t too hard, and there are a number of pretty good guides available. HOWEVER, there definitely seems to be a gap when you’re talking about using podman/buildah and not docker buildx to build multi-architecture images.

With docker buildx, here’s what a normal multi-architecture build command might look like:

docker buildx build \
    --platform linux/amd64,linux/arm64 \
    --tag \
    --push backend

Very clean, very easy to understand what’s going on, and it’ll build both images in parallel, which speeds up the time it takes to build your images. While it is not nearly as clean with podman/buildah, here’s what you’ll want/need to do.

# Set your manifest name
export MANIFEST_NAME="multiarch-test"

# Set the required variables
export BUILD_PATH="backend"
export REGISTRY=""
export USER="danmanners"
export IMAGE_NAME="isbonnierecording-backend"
export IMAGE_TAG="v0.1.1"

# Create a multi-architecture manifest
buildah manifest create ${MANIFEST_NAME}

# Build your amd64 architecture container
buildah bud \
    --tag "${REGISTRY}/${USER}/${IMAGE_NAME}:${IMAGE_TAG}" \
    --manifest ${MANIFEST_NAME} \
    --arch amd64 \

# Build your arm64 architecture container
buildah bud \
    --tag "${REGISTRY}/${USER}/${IMAGE_NAME}:${IMAGE_TAG}" \
    --manifest ${MANIFEST_NAME} \
    --arch arm64 \

# Push the full manifest, with both CPU Architectures
buildah manifest push --all \

The three (main) things that you should care about above are:

  • --manifest / Manifest
    • The name of the manifest you’ll be adding your container multi-architecture images to
  • --arch / Architecture
    • The architecture of the container image you want to build
  • The docker:// in front of the image name
    • This is simply specifying that we want to push the manifest using the docker transport method.

If you’d like to read more about the docker:// transport method and alternatives, check this page RedHat put together.

If you’re reasonably well-versed in building container images already, everything else should seem pretty normal to you.

At the end of all of this, your commands should look like this:

buildah manifest create isbonrecording-backend

buildah bud --tag "" \
    --manifest isbonrecording-backend \
    --arch amd64 backend

buildah bud --tag "" 
    --manifest isbonrecording-backend 
    --arch arm64 backend

buildah manifest push --all 
    isbonrecording-backend \

For the example above, utilizing will also require logging into the GitHub Container Registry. I’d recommend creating and utilizing a Personal Access Token for access, and storing it at ~/.github/token on your developer system, with 0400 permissions. Assuming you’ve done this, you can simply log in with podman by running:

# Set your GitHub Username, or just replace the variable below with it.
export YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME="danmanners"

# cat the token, and then use it with the `--password-stdin` arg with `podman login`
cat ~/.github/token | podman login --username $YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME --password-stdin

Final Thoughts

buildah is significantly less streamlined compared to docker buildx for building and pushing multi-architecture container images, no doubt about it. It is, however, entirely functional and with a little bit of learning and understanding, is entirely as capable for both homelabbing and production use.

Happy cross-compiling!

Questions? Thoughts?

Feel free to ping me at If something I wrote isn’t clear, feel free to ask me a question or ask me to update it!