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Broken Docker Swarm Cluster – How to resolve this error

by | May 17, 2021

Wondering how to resolve ‘Broken Docker Swarm Cluster’ error? We can help you.

As part of our Docker Hosting services, we assist our customers with several Docker queries.

Today, let us see how to resolve this error.

Causes for Broken Docker Swarm Cluster

Today, let us see some of the causes for Broken Docker Swarm Cluster.

  •  The deployed application does not work due to networking issues.
  •  A lot of error messages in /var/log/syslog on several workers and nodes from dockerd:
    level=warning msg=”cannot find proper key indices while processing key update”
    level=error msg=”agent: session failed” error=”rpc error: code = Aborted desc = dispatcher is stopped”
    level=warning msg=”memberlist: Failed fallback ping: No installed keys could decrypt the message”
    level=warning msg=”memberlist: Decrypt packet failed: No installed keys could decrypt the message
  • netstat -tnlp does not show usual dockerd bindings on a leader manager.
  • After docker swarm leave, the manager will not see updated nodes.
  • Deployment is hung up.
  • The reboot of a worker or manager is not fixing the broken state of the cluster.


Prior to this issue, we have got quite a lot of errors with “dispatcher is stopped” from all nodes.

Usually, in case of “dispatcher is stopped” error, cluster usually re-initializes communication automatically and no administrator intervention is necessary.

Suppose there are three managers in docker swarm, which are periodically selecting a leader. However, this process failed and manager-0 became unreachable from other nodes.

Then, the other two manager nodes did not set new quorum because of the stopped dispatcher and the cluster did not change the status of manager-0.

Unfortunately, manager-0 was not able to renew the docker network and other managers and worker nodes have become unreachable.


Solution for Broken Docker Swarm Cluster

Today, let us see the steps followed by our support Techs in order to resolve the error.

First and foremost, the solution is to destroy and reinitialize the whole cluster.

Reinitialize docker swarm cluster

In this article, let us see the steps to Reinitialize docker swarm cluster.

1. Optional if used, save tags assigned on nodes for later reassignment. On manager node, run this script:

for node in $(docker node ls –filter role=worker –format ‘{{ .Hostname }}’);
tags=$(docker node inspect “$node” -f ‘{{.Spec.Labels}}’ |\
sed -e ‘s/^map\[//’ -e ‘s/\]$//’)
printf “%s: %s\n” “$node” “$tags”
done | sort

Next, we can assign it later back with:

$ docker node update –label-add <TAG>=true <WORKER>

2. On each node, force to leave:

$ docker swarm leave –force

3. On each node, restart service:

$ systemctl restart docker.service

4. On manager, create a new cluster:

$ docker swarm init –availability drain –advertise-addr <INTERNAL IP>

Internal IP address is the intranet IP of cluster which will be used for communication between nodes.

5. Then, generate tokens for the manager/worker node invitation:

$ docker swarm join-token manager
To add a manager to this swarm, run the following command:

docker swarm join –token SWMTKN-1-6bsyhhxe3txagx…

$ docker swarm join-token worker
To add a worker to this swarm, run the following command:

docker swarm join –token SWMTKN-1-6bsyhhxe3txagy…

The previous command’s output are commands for joining the cluster. Copy-paste it to them.

6. On manager, confirm that nodes have joined the cluster:

$ docker node ls

Also set availability of manager nodes to Drain:

$ docker node update –availability drain <HOSTNAME>

Manager availability is by default Active, but if we do not want it to run any containers set it to Drain.

7. Optional for tags, add it to nodes now:

$ docker node update –label-add <TAG>=true <WORKER>

8. Finally, deploy the stack again:

$ docker stack deploy -c docker-compose.yml <STACK_NAME>


[Need any further assistance in fixing Docker errors? – We’re available 24*7]


Today, we saw how our support Techs follow the steps to resolve the error.

Are you using Docker based apps?

There are proven ways to get even more out of your Docker containers! Let us help you.

Spend your time in growing business and we will take care of Docker Infrastructure for you.


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