How to Fix Empty Project in SonarQube Docker

This post shows one way to fix an issue that may cause a SonarQube project to show up as empty only when the scan is run in a container environment.


Concerning the issue: "This project is empty" in the SonarQube UI:
SonarQube does not like being run as the root user. Specify a different user to be used in the container, and run the scan from this user's home directory.

A containerfile like this suffices:

FROM RUN useradd --create-home --shell /bin/bash sonarqube USER sonarqube WORKDIR /home/sonarqube

More Thorough Explanation

I've been setting up a few projects to be analyzed by SonarQube recently. A TypeScript project had its own issues that may be worth for a blog post, but in this Kotlin project this post is about I didn't find any solutions online, so I'm making this post solely in hopes of shortening the journey for people who stumble upon the same issue. It isn't super interesting, so if you're not experiencing this issue yourself you may as well stop reading.

In this Kotlin Gradle project, I noticed that the project shows up as an empty project in the SonarQube UI, however only if the scan was triggered from within a container environment. I've used both the SonarScanner Gradle plugin and the CLI, both of which worked fine locally, but when using it from within a container it presented an empty project as a result. This led me on a wild goose chase of trying to find out the differences between the locally triggered scan and the one that's started via CI / a container. (After even realizing that it's not just the CI's fault, but the container environment's.) In the end, it turns out that SonarQube cannot handle not being run from a "normal" user environment. Most images use the root user by default, which does not count as such.

What makes it work is creating a non-root user and switching to that user's home directory before executing the scan, of course with the code to be scanned in that directory, or a subdirectory, as well. For CI purposes, that can be a base image as listed in the TL;DR above (if it's not a Java project the FROM directive may differ naturally), or even one that just includes a line such as this:

RUN useradd --create-home --uid 1000 --shell /bin/bash sonarqube

As long as the user and the home directory exists, and the CI provider facilities overwriting the default user with whom the pipeline steps are run, this is enough. On Bitbucket Pipelines, this can be done with the run-as-user step config option, which needs a UID of an existing user in the image. Since the pipeline may also clone the repo into some other directory, its contents may also need to be copied to the desired user's home directory.


The only marginally related discussion about this I could find online is this one, which has Java user woes as well, but triggers a different kind of bug. For completeness' sake, many other potential solutions for the "This project is empty" problem can be found here.


  • I hope my SEO is good enough so search engines will display this post for people with relevant interest.
  • I mentioned "Docker" in the title for this purpose, but it should be the same for any container engine/runtime. I tested it with Podman as well.