Using AWS Lambda with Docker

July 21, 2021


My goal is to use Docker to deploy my AWS Lambda function. The reason I need to use Docker is because I need to import additional python libraries, I’m working on a Mac and I’ve received “invalid ELF header” log files at some point. This article written 4 years ago in 2017 by Liz Rice on freeCodeCamp was really helpful.


In order to use that article as a resource, I needed the following knowledge: 1) have a working AWS Lambda function, 2) how to use the command line on a Mac and 3) have Docker installed.

Initial Docker Setup; Installing Dependencies

Here were the commands I ran to get this working within Docker. My project requires PyGithub and because I’m zipping files and using the AWS CLI, I had to install a few packages:

# 1) Create a Docker container
$ docker create -t -i ubuntu

# 2) Start the new Docker container, passing in the container ID
$ docker start -a -i <CONTAINER ID>

# 3) Install dependencies within the container
$ apt-get update
$ apt-get install zip -y
$ apt-get install python3-pip -y
$ apt-get install awscli -y

# 4) Create a working directory, to store all of my AWS Lambda files and dependencies:
$ mkdir working
$ cd working

# 5) Install my Python dependency here
$ pip install -t . PyGithub

Great! So at this point, I’ve installed all of my required dependencies within my new Docker container.

Deploy updated code from local Github Repository

Next I ran these commands to copy my files from my local Github repo (containing the AWS Lambda code) to my Docker container:

# Access directory where all of the AWS files are loaded; copy files to Docker container
$ docker cp . <CONTAINER ID>:/working

# Start Docker container; zip files
$ docker start -a -i <CONTAINER ID>
$ cd working
$ zip -r .

# Run this command, passing in my function name and the actual file
$ aws lambda update-function-code --function-name <AWS LAMBDA FUNCTION NAME> --zip-file fileb://

To remove the manual steps, I ended up created a local bash script (calling it “”) to execute the commands from my Desktop. In turn, anytime I make changes to my repo, I can execute this script and it’ll deploy for me. Here are the commands within the bash script:

# Access local repository

# Copy files from local repository to designated Docker container
docker cp . <CONTAINER ID>:/working

# Start Docker Container; execute script to upload files to AWS
docker start <CONTAINER ID>
docker exec -it <CONTAINER ID> bash -c "cd working && zip -r . && aws lambda update-function-code --function-name <AWS LAMBDA FUNCTION NAME> --zip-file fileb://"

In short, if I make changes to my local repo, I can simply run this bash script:


And that’s how I have setup my environment, to make it easier to deploy changes to my AWS Lambda function on a Mac (which uses additional Python packages).