Running Transmission and ZeroTier One via Docker on Synology DSM 7

Some of the most popular posts on my blog are the ones describing how I set up my Synology Diskstation many years ago. Things like setting up Time Machine, writing to HFS+ drives, and enabling SSH access and installing third-party software through ipkg.

A lot has changed since then! Docker has become the de-facto way to run third-party software on Diskstations, and my setup (automatically migrated from a DS214se to a DS218+, and from DSM version 4, to 5, to 6) was getting increasingly creaky and fragile.

After a frantic few weeks, I finally found myself with a free weekend and figured, hey, what better way to spend it than finally upgrading my DS218+ to DSM 7.1, and replacing any old, unsupported ipkg apps with new Docker-based alternatives. This post documents most of the steps I took, in case it’s useful to anyone else.

(Happily, I’ve been using Docker for a few years at mySociety, so lots of it is familiar to me. I’ll assume any readers of this post are similarly familiar. Good luck!)

Installing and setting up Docker

If your Diskstation supports Docker, it will be listed under “All Packages” in the Synology Package Center (accessible via your Diskstation’s web interface). If your Diskstation doesn’t support Docker, then you’re S.O.L. going to have to try installing it via an unofficial package.

Once you’ve installed it, a new “Docker” app will be available in the DSM Main Menu, and the docker, docker-compose, etc commands will be available to command-line users logged in via SSH (if you’ve enabled SSH access to your Diskstation, which you are definitely going to want to do).

The Docker package installs Docker as root. You can verify this by SSHing into the Diskstation with your usual user account, and attempting to run a simple docker container:

$ docker run hello-world
docker: Got permission denied while trying to connect to the Docker daemon socket at unix:///var/run/docker.sock: Post "http://%2Fvar%2Frun%2Fdocker.sock/v1.24/containers/create": dial unix /var/run/docker.sock: connect: permission denied.
See 'docker run --help'.

Indeed, if you look at /var/run/docker.sock, you’ll see it’s owned by root:

$ ls -hila /var/run/docker.sock
222631 srw-rw---- 1 root root 0 Apr  1 12:57 /var/run/docker.sock

I didn’t want to have to use sudo for all my docker commands, so I created a new docker user group, and added my normal user account (zarino, below) to it:

$ sudo synogroup --add docker
$ sudo synogroup --member docker zarino

And then made the docker.sock file group-owned by that new docker group:

$ sudo chown root:docker /var/run/docker.sock

Remember to end your SSH session and start a new one, for the change to your user’s group to take effect.

If the command line frightens you, you could probably use the DSM web UI to set up the group and membership, and then change the ownership of the file. But honestly, who has the time for all that pointing and clicking.

Installing and setting up Transmission

linuxserver/transmission is the most popular Docker container for Transmission. You’ll see, from the documentation, that it requires three directories that it will mount inside the container, as shared volumes: /config, /downloads, and /watch.

I already have a Downloads folder at /volume1/files/Downloads, so I’ll use that. But I created the the other two directories like so:

$ mkdir -p /volume1/docker/transmission/config
$ mkdir -p /volume1/docker/transmission/watch

(Note from the future: I found downloads would fail with a “Permission denied” error unless the owner of the /downloads folder inside the container had execute permissions. Since I’d already verified—with stat /volume1/files/Downloads—that the folder was owned by my zarino user (UID 1027, GID 100), I ran chmod u+x /volume1/files/Downloads to ensure that the owner had execute rights.)

With the folders created, I took their recommended docker-compose file, and put it into /volume1/docker/transmission/docker-compose.yml, modifying the settings as required. I’ll explain some of them below.

(Note: If you need a command-line file editor program other than vi or vim, the third-party SynoCli File Tools package, available under the “Community” tab in Synology Package Center, includes easier editors like nano.)

TZ is the timezone you want the container to use. You can check your current timezone with ls -l /etc/localtime, which should reflect whatever timezone is set in the ‘Regional Options’ Control Panel in the DSM web interface.

The PUID and GUID values are the user ID and group ID of the user you want Transmission to run as – and note, by extension, you’ll also want to make sure this user has access to any of the directories you’re sharing as volumes in the docker-compose.yml file. You can get the IDs for the current user by running the id command at the command line, and pulling out the uid and gid values, respectively:

$ id
uid=1027(zarino) gid=100(users) groups=100(users),25(smmsp),101(administrators),65537(docker)

The USER and PASS variables are the username and password that will be used for the HTTP Basic Authentication protecting the Transmission web interface behind a login prompt. I think the old ipkg version of Transmission used to use the username and password of your Synology user account here, but now I guess you could pick anything you like.

In the end, my /volume1/docker/transmission/docker-compose.yml file looked like this:

version: "3.9"

    container_name: transmission
      - PUID=1027
      - PGID=100
      - TZ=Europe/London
      - USER=examplechangeme
      - PASS=examplechangeme
      - /volume1/docker/transmission/config:/config
      - /volume1/files/Downloads:/downloads
      - /volume1/docker/transmission/watch:/watch
      - 9091:9091
      - 51413:51413
      - 51413:51413/udp
    restart: unless-stopped

I could now install and start the container (in detached mode) with:

$ cd /volume1/docker/transmission
$ docker-compose up --detach

Once the container is running, the Transmission web interface will be accessible at http://<your-diskstation-ip>:9091/transmission/web/

Finally, you’ll want to create a Triggered Task, to start the Transmission container automatically when your Diskstation reboots. I did this by selecting “Create > Triggered Task > User-defined script” in the Task Scheduler control panel, and then creating a script with the following settings:

Task name Start Transmission Docker container
User (you’ll want to pick your user account here)
Event Boot-up
Pre-task (none)
Enabled (checked)
Notification (none)
User-defined script
cd /volume1/docker/transmission && docker-compose up --detach

Installing and setting up ZeroTier One

ZeroTier One is a system that puts all of your devices onto a virtual network, a bit like a VPN, meaning you can access one device from another, fairly securely, over the public internet, no matter where the devices are. I have it set up so that I can access my Diskstation and gaming PC from my Mac, even when I’m not at home.

Because ZeroTier is like a VPN, it requires what Linux geekily calls a “persistent TUN/TAP device” in order to hijack network requests on the machine. Your Diskstation doesn’t come with a TUN/TAP device out of the box, so you’ll need to install one, before attempting to run the ZeroTier Docker container.

ZeroTier provides instructions for setting up a TUN device. By the end of that, you’ll have a script at /usr/local/etc/rc.d/ that installs the tun kernel module, and after running it once, you’ll have a TUN device available at /dev/net/tun. Woop!

On to the Docker container! I diverge a little from the recommended /var/lib/zerotier-one file location in ZeroTier’s installation guide, because, as you will have seen above, I’m storing my docker-related files in /volume1/docker instead, like so:

$ mkdir -p /volume1/docker/zerotier-one/data

The ZeroTier guide doesn’t include an example docker-compose.yml file, but you can create one, inspired by their example docker run command. Mine, at /volume1/docker/zerotier-one/docker-compose.yml, ended up looking like this:

version: "3.9"

    image: zerotier/zerotier-synology:latest
    container_name: zerotier-one
      - /dev/net/tun
    network_mode: host
      - /volume1/docker/zerotier-one/data:/var/lib/zerotier-one
      - NET_ADMIN
      - SYS_ADMIN
    restart: unless-stopped

Then, just like with Transmission, you can start the container in detached mode:

$ cd /volume1/docker/zerotier-one
$ docker-compose up --detach

While I was at it, I also created a wrapper script, to make issuing commands into the container a bit easier. I created a new file at /volume1/docker/zerotier-one/zerotier-cli, filled it with the following text, and made it executable:


docker-compose exec zerotier zerotier-cli "$@"

With that script in place, getting the current network status, and joining a network, is easy:

$ cd /volume1/docker/zerotier-one
$ ./zerotier-cli status
200 info cefed4ab93 1.10.6 ONLINE
$ ./zerotier-cli join e5cd7a9e1cae134f
200 join OK

After authorising the Diskstation in the ZeroTier One web panel, I could list the network details:

$ ./zerotier-cli listnetworks

Finally, as with Transmission (above), I needed to create a Triggered Task, to start the docker container automatically when my Diskstation reboots. The details were very similar to before:

Task name Start ZeroTier One Docker container
User (you’ll want to pick your user account here)
Event Boot-up
Pre-task (none)
Enabled (checked)
Notification (none)
User-defined script
cd /volume1/docker/zerotier-one && docker-compose up --detach

Remember backups!

Finally, remember to add your /volume1/docker directory to your backup software’s list. I use Synology’s HyperBackup for this, so it was fairly easy to log into the admin interface, and add a second backup task for /volume1/docker.