You need an build agent to run the build or deployment jobs in Azure VSTS DevOps. There are different ways to get this build agent-

>>Microsoft provides hosted and managed agents for Linux, Mac and Windows

>>You can create your own private build agent on VM or local on premises machine.

>>You can run the build agent in Docker Container on a private VM or on premises machine.


How to Run Private Build Agents in Docker Container on Ubuntu:

>> Microsoft provides VSTS agent image which can be run as Docker Container on Ubuntu. Get this image from

My project needed Node.js, dotnet SDK 2.2, powershell, cURL, docker and docker-compose to build my project. So I have created new image using the VSTS agent image by installing these packages/dependencies on it.

Login to Ubuntu machine and create a Dockerfile and add the contents to it as found here.

Run docker command to build the image

$docker build -t <image_name> .

To see the created image, run command

$ docker images


>>Once image is created, either upload to docker registry or to azure container registry. In this example, I will upload it to azure container registry.

Login to azure portal and create a container registry. Note the Login Server, User and password-

Now run the below commands from ubuntu machine prompt to upload the image to azure container registry

$ docker tag <image_name> <login server name>/<name of build image to upload>
$ docker login <login server name> -u <username> -p <password>
$ docker push <image_name>/<build image name>


$ docker tag test
$ docker login -u newconregistry -p NTN9S0vfDfD4k=d5D8LNXGCd3D5R7mf63
$ docker push

Now we are ready to start the VSTS agent in container using this image.

>>Create a private agent pool:

Login to<your_project_name>/.

Go to Project settings–>Pipelines–>Agent Pools, Add New agent pool


Create PAT (personal access token)


>> Start the VSTS build agent in container using the below command-

$ docker run -e VSTS_ACCOUNT=<vsts account name> -e VSTS_TOKEN=<PAT token created> -e VSTS_AGENT=’$(hostname)-agent’ -e VSTS_POOL=<agent Pool name> -e VSTS_WORK=’/var/vsts/$VSTS_AGENT’ -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock –name=buildagent -it <azure container registry servername>/<image name>


docker run -e VSTS_ACCOUNT=ghamad -e VSTS_TOKEN=<PAT token created> -e VSTS_AGENT=’$(hostname)-agent’ -e VSTS_POOL=ContainerPool -e VSTS_WORK=’/var/vsts/$VSTS_AGENT’ -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock –name=buildagent -it


Once the build agent is started in the container, it will show up agent pools as registered. Point your pipelines to this agent pool to build your project.