If you are running the respective pipeline in a local environment, we highly recommend using either Docker or Singularity.


Docker is a great way to run nf-core pipelines, as it manages all software installations and allows the pipelines to be run in an identical software environment across a range of systems.

Nextflow has excellent integration with Docker, and beyond installing the two tools, not much else is required. The docker profile provides a configuration profile for docker, making it very easy to use. This also comes with the required presets to use the AWS iGenomes resource, meaning that if using common reference genomes you just specify the reference ID and it will be automatically downloaded from AWS S3 to your local system.

First, install docker on your system: Docker Installation Instructions

Then, simply run the analysis pipeline:

nextflow run nf-core/YOUR_PIPELINE_NAME -profile docker --genome '<genome ID>'

Nextflow will recognise nf-core/YOUR_PIPELINE_NAME and download the pipeline from GitHub. The -profile docker configuration lists the respective Docker image on DockerHub that we have created and this is downloaded automatically for you. Note that the usage of --genome only works when using iGenomes. For more information about this and how to work with reference genomes, see Reference Genomes.

Pipeline versions

The public docker images are tagged with the same version numbers as the code, which you can use to ensure reproducibility. When running the pipeline, specify the pipeline version with -r, for example -r 1.0. This uses pipeline code and docker image from this tagged version.

Singularity image

Many HPC environments are not able to run Docker due to security issues. Singularity is a tool designed to run on such HPC systems which is very similar to Docker. Even better, it can use create images directly from dockerhub.

To use the singularity image for a single run, use -with-singularity, or use the profile -profile singularity. This will download the docker container from dockerhub and create a singularity image for you dynamically.

If you intend to run the pipeline offline, nextflow will not be able to automatically download the singularity image for you. Instead, you'll have to do this yourself manually first, transfer the image file and then point to that.

First, pull the image file where you have an internet connection:

NB: The "tag" at the end of this command corresponds to the pipeline version. Here, we're pulling the docker image for version 1.0 of the YOUR_PIPELINE_NAME pipeline Make sure that this tag corresponds to the version of the pipeline that you're using

singularity pull --name nf-core/YOUR_PIPELINE_NAME-1.0.img docker://nfcore/YOUR_PIPELINE_NAME:1.0

Then transfer this file and run the pipeline with this path:

nextflow run /path/to/YOUR_PIPELINE_NAME -with-singularity /path/to/YOUR_PIPELINE_NAME-1.0.img

Note, that DockerHub doesn't support hyphens in repository names, thus the URI to DockerHub is always nfcore instead of nf-core.