Docker + Localhost MySQL


3 min read

I was having the hardest time getting applications in docker containers to connect to the instance of mysql runnning on the host.

I finally found a great solution, so I figured I'd post it here for myself and so that others may find it as well.

The idea is to simply enable some local routing rules and use iptables to allow access to port 3306 for MySQL.

  1. Enable route_localnet for docker0 interface:
sysctl -w net.ipv4.conf.docker0.route_localnet=1
  1. At this point, you'll want to double check and see which subnet is being used by your container for its internal docker network. The default network is, however if you have multiple containers / docker networks this network may be slightly different. You can check easily by either entering an interactive shell in your container and running ifconfig or ip addr to see which network your container is on. Alternatively, you can view the docker inspect info with the command docker inspect <container name> and look for the "Gateway" address in the network config towards the bottom of the inspect information.

Finally, once you've confirmed the network your container is on, add these rules to iptables:

iptables -t nat -I PREROUTING -i docker0 -d -p tcp --dport 3306 -j DNAT --to
iptables -t filter -I INPUT -i docker0 -d -p tcp --dport 3306 -j ACCEPT

At this point, we should be able to route on our local machine on port 3306. That is, from the docker subnet's gateway ( aka the localhost) to our hosts localhost loopback address where the MySQL instance is listening (

  1. Make sure you have a mysql user in your local instance who is allowed to connect from outside of 'localhost', i.e. from '%'. If you're having trouble with authentication still, you may need to add a user who is explicitly allowed to connect from the Docker subnet on your computer.

For example, with wide open privileges, allowing the user username to connect from any host:

CREATE USER 'username'@'%' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';

Alternatively, you can lock it down a bit more and only allow username to connect from the Docker subnet:

CREATE USER 'username'@'172.17.0.%' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
  1. Finally, in your docker container setup, whether that's in a config value in the docker-compose.yml file or elsewhere in your dockerized application, make sure to change the mysql server address to This is the default host's IP address from the view of the container.