Skip to main content

Publishing and installing a package with GitHub Actions

You can configure a workflow in GitHub Actions to automatically publish or install a package from GitHub Packages.

About GitHub Packages with GitHub Actions

GitHub Actions help you automate your software development workflows in the same place you store code and collaborate on pull requests and issues. You can write individual tasks, called actions, and combine them to create a custom workflow. With GitHub Actions you can build end-to-end continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) capabilities directly in your repository. For more information, see "About GitHub Actions."

You can extend the CI and CD capabilities of your repository by publishing or installing packages as part of your workflow.

Authenticating to package registries with granular permissions

Some GitHub Packages registries support granular permissions. This means you can choose to allow packages to be owned by a user or an organization, or linked to a repository. For the list of registries that support granular permissions, see "About permissions for GitHub Packages."

For registries that support granular permissions, if your GitHub Actions workflow is using a personal access token to authenticate to a registry, we highly recommend you update your workflow to use the GITHUB_TOKEN. For guidance on updating your workflows that authenticate to a registry with a personal access token, see "Upgrading a workflow that accesses a registry using a personal access token."

For more information about the GITHUB_TOKEN, see "Authentication in a workflow." For more information about the best practices when using a registry in actions, see "Security hardening for GitHub Actions."

Authenticating to package registries with repository-scoped permissions

Some GitHub Packages registries only support repository-scoped permissions, and do not support granular permissions. For a list of these registries, see "About permissions for GitHub Packages."

If you want your workflow to access a GitHub Packages registry that does not support granular permissions, then we recommend using the GITHUB_TOKEN that GitHub Enterprise Server automatically creates for your repository when you enable GitHub Actions. You should set the permissions for this access token in the workflow file to grant read access for the contents scope and write access for the packages scope. For forks, the GITHUB_TOKEN is granted read access for the parent repository. For more information, see "Authenticating with the GITHUB_TOKEN."

You can reference the GITHUB_TOKEN in your workflow file using the {{secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN}} context. For more information, see "Authenticating with the GITHUB_TOKEN."

About permissions and package access

Packages scoped to users or organizations

Registries that support granular permissions allow users to create and administer packages as free-standing resources at the organization level. Packages can be owned by an organization or personal account and you can customize access to each of your packages separately from repository permissions.

All workflows accessing registries that support granular permissions should use the GITHUB_TOKEN instead of a personal access token. For more information about security best practices, see "Security hardening for GitHub Actions."

Packages scoped to repositories

When you enable GitHub Actions, GitHub installs a GitHub App on your repository. The GITHUB_TOKEN secret is a GitHub App installation access token. You can use the installation access token to authenticate on behalf of the GitHub App installed on your repository. The token's permissions are limited to the repository that contains your workflow. For more information, see "Permissions for the GITHUB_TOKEN."

GitHub Packages allows you to push and pull packages through the GITHUB_TOKEN available to a GitHub Actions workflow.

Default permissions and access settings for containers modified through workflows

When you create, install, modify, or delete a container through a workflow, there are some default permission and access settings used to ensure admins have access to the workflow. You can adjust these access settings as well.

For example, by default if a workflow creates a container using the GITHUB_TOKEN, then:

  • The container inherits the visibility and permissions model of the repository where the workflow is run.
  • Repository admins where the workflow is run become the admins of the container once the container is created.

These are more examples of how default permissions work for workflows that manage packages.

GitHub Actions workflow taskDefault permissions and access
Download an existing container- If the container is public, any workflow running in any repository can download the container.
- If the container is internal, then all workflows running in any repository owned by the Enterprise account can download the container. For enterprise-owned organizations, you can read any repository in the enterprise
- If the container is private, only workflows running in repositories that are given read permission on that container can download the container.
Upload a new version to an existing container- If the container is private, internal, or public, only workflows running in repositories that are given write permission on that container can upload new versions to the container.
Delete a container or versions of a container- If the container is private, internal, or public, only workflows running in repositories that are given admin permission can delete existing versions of the container.

You can also adjust access to containers in a more granular way or adjust some of the default permissions behavior. For more information, see "Configuring a package’s access control and visibility."

Publishing a package using an action

You can use GitHub Actions to automatically publish packages as part of your continuous integration (CI) flow. This approach to continuous deployment (CD) allows you to automate the creation of new package versions, if the code meets your quality standards. For example, you could create a workflow that runs CI tests every time a developer pushes code to a particular branch. If the tests pass, the workflow can publish a new package version to GitHub Packages.

Configuration steps vary by package client. For general information about configuring a workflow for GitHub Actions, see "Configuring a workflow."

The following example demonstrates how you can use GitHub Actions to build and test your app, and then automatically create a Docker image and publish it to GitHub Packages.

Create a new workflow file in your repository (such as .github/workflows/deploy-image.yml), and add the following YAML:

YAML
# This workflow uses actions that are not certified by GitHub.
# They are provided by a third-party and are governed by
# separate terms of service, privacy policy, and support
# documentation.

# GitHub recommends pinning actions to a commit SHA.
# To get a newer version, you will need to update the SHA.
# You can also reference a tag or branch, but the action may change without warning.

name: Create and publish a Docker image

on:
  push:
    branches: ['release']

jobs:
  run-npm-build:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/checkout@v3
      - name: npm install and build webpack
        run: |
          npm install
          npm run build
      - uses: actions/upload-artifact@v3
        with:
          name: webpack artifacts
          path: public/

  run-npm-test:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    needs: run-npm-build
    strategy:
      matrix:
        os: [ubuntu-latest]
        node-version: [12.x, 14.x]
    steps:
      - uses: actions/checkout@v3
      - name: Use Node.js ${{ matrix.node-version }}
        uses: actions/setup-node@v3
        with:
          node-version: ${{ matrix.node-version }}
      - uses: actions/download-artifact@v3
        with:
          name: webpack artifacts
          path: public
      - name: npm install, and test
        run: |
          npm install
          npm test
        env:
          CI: true

  build-and-push-image:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    needs: run-npm-test 
    permissions:
      contents: read
      packages: write 
    steps:
      - name: Checkout
        uses: actions/checkout@v3
      - name: Log in to GitHub Docker Registry
        uses: docker/login-action@f054a8b539a109f9f41c372932f1ae047eff08c9
        with:
          registry: docker.pkg.github.com
          username: ${{ github.actor }}
          password: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}
      - name: Build and push Docker image
        uses: docker/build-push-action@ad44023a93711e3deb337508980b4b5e9bcdc5dc
        with:
          push: true
          tags: |
            docker.pkg.github.com/${{ github.repository }}/octo-image:${{ github.sha }}

The relevant settings are explained in the following table. For full details about each element in a workflow, see "Workflow syntax for GitHub Actions."

on:
  push:
    branches: ['release']
Configures the Create and publish a Docker image workflow to run every time a change is pushed to the branch called release.
run-npm-build:
  runs-on: ubuntu-latest
  steps:
    - uses: actions/checkout@v3
    - name: npm install and build webpack
      run: |
        npm install
        npm run build
    - uses: actions/upload-artifact@v3
      with:
        name: webpack artifacts
        path: public/
This job installs NPM and uses it to build the app.
run-npm-test:
  runs-on: ubuntu-latest
  needs: run-npm-build
  strategy:
    matrix:
      os: [ubuntu-latest]
      node-version: [12.x, 14.x]
  steps:
    - uses: actions/checkout@v3
    - name: Use Node.js ${{ matrix.node-version }}
      uses: actions/setup-node@v3
      with:
        node-version: ${{ matrix.node-version }}
    - uses: actions/download-artifact@v3
      with:
        name: webpack artifacts
        path: public
    - name: npm install, and test
      run: |
        npm install
        npm test
      env:
        CI: true
This job uses npm test to test the code. The needs: run-npm-build command makes this job dependent on the run-npm-build job.
build-and-push-image:
  runs-on: ubuntu-latest
  needs: run-npm-test
This job publishes the package. The needs: run-npm-test command makes this job dependent on the run-npm-test job.
permissions:
  contents: read
  packages: write
Sets the permissions granted to the GITHUB_TOKEN for the actions in this job.
- name: Log in to GitHub Docker Registry
  uses: docker/login-action@f054a8b539a109f9f41c372932f1ae047eff08c9
  with:
    registry: docker.pkg.github.com
    username: ${{ github.actor }}
    password: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}
Creates a new step called Log in to GitHub Docker Registry, which logs in to the registry using the account and password that will publish the packages. Once published, the packages are owned by the account defined here.
- name: Build and push Docker image
Creates a new step called Build and push Docker image. This step runs as part of the build-and-push-image job.
uses: docker/build-push-action@ad44023a93711e3deb337508980b4b5e9bcdc5dc
Uses the Docker build-push-action action to build the image, based on your repository's Dockerfile. If the build succeeds, it pushes the image to GitHub Packages.
with:
Sends the required parameters to the build-push-action action. These are defined in the subsequent lines.
push: true
Pushes this image to the registry if it is built successfully.
tags: |
docker.pkg.github.com/${{ github.repository }}/octo-image:${{ github.sha }}
Tags the image with the SHA of the commit that triggered the workflow.

This new workflow will run automatically every time you push a change to a branch named release in the repository. You can view the progress in the Actions tab.

A few minutes after the workflow has completed, the new package will visible in your repository. To find your available packages, see "Viewing a repository's packages."

Installing a package using an action

You can install packages as part of your CI flow using GitHub Actions. For example, you could configure a workflow so that anytime a developer pushes code to a pull request, the workflow resolves dependencies by downloading and installing packages hosted by GitHub Packages. Then, the workflow can run CI tests that require the dependencies.

Installing packages hosted by GitHub Packages through GitHub Actions requires minimal configuration or additional authentication when you use the GITHUB_TOKEN.

Configuration steps vary by package client. For general information about configuring a workflow for GitHub Actions, see "Configuring a workflow."

Upgrading a workflow that accesses a registry using a personal access token

GitHub Packages supports the GITHUB_TOKEN for easy and secure authentication in your workflows. If you're using a registry that supports granular permissions, and your workflow is using a personal access token to authenticate to the registry, then we highly recommend you update your workflow to use the GITHUB_TOKEN.

For more information about the GITHUB_TOKEN, see "Authentication in a workflow."

Using the GITHUB_TOKEN, instead of a personal access token with the repo scope, increases the security of your repository as you don't need to use a long-lived personal access token that offers unnecessary access to the repository where your workflow is run. For more information about security best practices, see "Security hardening for GitHub Actions."

  1. Navigate to your package landing page.

  2. In the left sidebar, click Actions access. "Actions access" option in left menu

  3. To ensure your container package has access to your workflow, you must add the repository where the workflow is stored to your container. Click Add repository and search for the repository you want to add. "Add repository" button

    Note: Adding a repository to your container through the Actions access menu option is different than connecting your container to a repository. For more information, see "Ensuring workflow access to your package" and "Connecting a repository to a package."

  4. Optionally, using the "role" drop-down menu, select the default access level that you'd like the repository to have to your container image. Permission access levels to give to repositories

  5. Open your workflow file. On the line where you log in to the registry, replace your personal access token with ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}.

For example, this workflow publishes a Docker image to the Container registry and uses ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }} to authenticate.

YAML
name: Demo Push

on:
  push:
    # Publish `master` as Docker `latest` image.
    branches:
      - master
      - seed

    # Publish `v1.2.3` tags as releases.
    tags:
      - v*

  # Run tests for any PRs.
  pull_request:

env:
  IMAGE_NAME: ghtoken_product_demo

jobs:
  # Push image to GitHub Packages.
  # See also https://docs.docker.com/docker-hub/builds/
  push:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    permissions:
      packages: write
      contents: read

    steps:
      - uses: actions/checkout@v3

      - name: Build image
        run: docker build . --file Dockerfile --tag $IMAGE_NAME --label "runnumber=${GITHUB_RUN_ID}"

      - name: Log in to registry
        # This is where you will update the personal access token to GITHUB_TOKEN
        run: echo "${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}" | docker login ghcr.io -u $ --password-stdin

      - name: Push image
        run: |
          IMAGE_ID=ghcr.io/${{ github.repository_owner }}/$IMAGE_NAME

          # Change all uppercase to lowercase
          IMAGE_ID=$(echo $IMAGE_ID | tr '[A-Z]' '[a-z]')
          # Strip git ref prefix from version
          VERSION=$(echo "${{ github.ref }}" | sed -e 's,.*/\(.*\),\1,')
          # Strip "v" prefix from tag name
          [[ "${{ github.ref }}" == "refs/tags/"* ]] && VERSION=$(echo $VERSION | sed -e 's/^v//')
          # Use Docker `latest` tag convention
          [ "$VERSION" == "master" ] && VERSION=latest
          echo IMAGE_ID=$IMAGE_ID
          echo VERSION=$VERSION
          docker tag $IMAGE_NAME $IMAGE_ID:$VERSION
          docker push $IMAGE_ID:$VERSION