Skip to content

ORAS Artifact Reference Types (Alpha 1)

Pushing artifacts that reference other artifacts

The focus on distributing secure supply chain artifacts has driven new innovations for supporting signatures, software bill of materials (SBoMs) and security scan results as artifacts that may be pushed, discovered and pulled, based on the tag or digest reference of a subject artifact.

See the ORAS Artifacts Spec scenarios for more details.

ORAS Artifact Spec Support

Install the latest alpha build of the oras cli at:

Pushing Reference Types

The following walkthrough will generate the graph of artifacts shown below.

Pushing artifact references involves identifying the unique artifact type, at least one file and the subject artifact being referenced.

The following sample defines a new Artifact Type of signature, using signature/example as the manifest.artifactType.

  • Build and push an image
docker build -t $IMAGE
docker push $IMAGE
  • Create a sample signature to the container image
echo '{"artifact": "'${IMAGE}'", "signature": "pat hancock"}' > signature.json
  • Push the signature to the registry, as a reference to the container image
oras push $REGISTRY/$REPO \
    --artifact-type 'signature/example' \
    --subject $IMAGE \

Discovering Artifact References

The ORAS Artifacts Specification defines a referrers API for discovering references to a subject artifact. In the above case, oras discover can show the the list of references to the container image.

  • Using oras discover, view the graph of artifacts now stored in the registry
oras discover -o tree $IMAGE
  • The output shows the beginning of a graph of artifacts, where the signature is viewed as a child of the container image
└── signature/example
    └── sha256:1b6308bc4a2dd8933e9f66ff5bbc47e685516e5378208b46c58dc...

Creating Deep Graphs of Artifacts

The ORAS Artifacts specification enables deep graphs, enabling signed SBoMs and other artifact types.

  • Create and push a sample Software Bill of Materials to the registry
echo '{"version": "", "artifact": "'${IMAGE}'", "contents": "good"}' > sbom.json

oras push $REGISTRY/$REPO \
  --artifact-type 'sbom/example' \
  --subject $IMAGE \
  • Sign the SBoM
SBOM_DIGEST=$(oras discover -o json \
                --artifact-type sbom/example \
                $IMAGE | jq -r ".references[0].digest")

echo '{"artifact": "'$REGISTRY/$REPO/$SBOM_DIGEST'", "signature": "pat hancock"}' > sbom-signature.json

oras push $REGISTRY/$REPO \
  --artifact-type 'signature/example' \
  • View the graph
oras discover -o tree $IMAGE

Generates the following output:

├── signature/example
│   └── sha256:49f47c674c0224c72ca646ae0b8b70c14115cf4874f7...
└── sbom/example
    └── sha256:dc737e2b9bb2489aa61f3fc4a90e2ec166bd9685fd56c6f48d...
        └── signature/example
            └── sha256:31eb6a50c54df208a09222127a06e9b7afe1dd042771631b175...
  • Pull the SBOM
# Get the digest for the SBOM
SBOM_DIGEST=$(oras discover -o json \
                --artifact-type 'sbom/example' \
                $IMAGE | jq -r ".references[0].digest")

# Create a clean directory for downloading
mkdir ./download

# Pull the SBOM into the download directory
oras pull -a -o ./download $REGISTRY/$REPO@$SBOM_DIGEST

# View the $IMAGE SBOM
cat ./download/sbom.json | jq

Registry Support

The following registries currently support, or are planning to support the ORAS Artifacts Specification.

CNCF Distribution with ORAS Artifacts Support

A reference implementation of the ORAS Artifacts Spec is available at

To run distribution locally:

docker run -d -p 5000:5000

Continue with Pushing Reference Types

Azure Container Registry

The Azure Container Registry supports ORAS Artifacts. To enable the oras cli to push, discover, pull with ACR, configure USER_NAME and passwords using ACR Repository Scoped Tokens. Other authentication options are also available.


# Create a premium ACR instance in the South Central US region, with Zone Redundancy enabled
# As deployments proceed, all regions across all tiers will support ORAS Artifacts
az group create -n $ACR_NAME -l southcentralus
az acr create -n $ACR_NAME -g $ACR_NAME --zone-redundancy enabled --sku Premium

PASSWORD=$(az acr token create -n $USER_NAME \
                    -r $ACR_NAME \
                    --scope-map _repositories_admin \
                    --only-show-errors \
                    -o json | jq -r ".credentials.passwords[0].value")

docker login -u $USER_NAME -p $PASSWORD $REGISTRY

Continue with Pushing Reference Types

Coming Soon: AWS ACR

The AWS Elastic Container Registry has committed to supporting ORAS Artifacts.

Coming Soon: Docker Hub

Docker Hub has committed to supporting ORAS Artifacts

Additional Registry Support

Please submit PRs for additional registry support.

See ORAS Artifacts Community for how to get engaged.

Last update: November 11, 2021