How I use Magento2 on my local with Docker and Docker Compose

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Please note that this solution is tailored specifically for my needs and, while your needs may vary, don’t worry, everything is on GitHub, so feel free to take what you need.

I would like to add that this is not a “you’ve been using Docker with Magento2 wrong, this is how it’s done” kind of blog, I just want to share what I’m using and how. It may not be the best fit for you, but maybe you will find something useful.


For almost 2 years I’ve been using Magento2 in Docker containers. I’ve been doing that before, but I must admit that it was because I had to, not because I’ve seen the light, I mean advantages.

As you may know Magento2 is not exactly a small and light app, it’s quite heavy on the resources, especially during development.

Compared to a VM, with Docker you get:

  • Speed: I think the speed is one of the biggest advantages, you can stop and start containers very fast, only the first build will take time, after that it will be very fast;
  • Light on resources: Compared to a VM, the container does not need to include the entire operating system, so it will not take a lot of space on disk and will not use a lot of processing power, because it’s not an entire OS doing… well… OS stuff, it’s just a server most of the time.

What you don’t get:

  • Learning curve: if you don’t know Docker and Docker Compose, it will be less intuitive at first;
  • First setup: harder to setup at first, if you have been using a VM for a long time, you will feel that you are going against the tide, but I assure you, in the long term it will be a lot simpler this way.

Taking the above into consideration, I would like to say that when I’ve started with this setup I was using Linux with 8G of RAM. One of my colleagues even wished me good luck on installing Magento2 on a ultraportable 8Gb RAM system. He wasn’t even sarcastic, more like pitying me for my bad workstation selection.

One of the requirements was that I needed some isolation and configuration between projects, I couldn’t just install a server and be done with it.

Previously I’ve been using Vagrant and VirtualBox, a great fit, very easy to use (most of the time). However, for Magento2 I’ve realised that it was heavy enough on its own, it was making me run out of resources fast.

Also, I wanted it to be easy to use, I don’t like to have to remember and type out a 3 word command, I just want to press some tabs and get it over with.

The requirements

There were some specific requirements:

  • nginx config – should work out of the box, Magento configuration isn’t very small, I wanted to make use of it with ease;
  • SSL – the domain has to also work with HTTPS, mostly because some APIs require it, the certificates don’t need to be valid;
  • bash – the Magento command should work as the system user, not as root (as containers usually do). This is required, because I don’t want the files generated by Magento to be generated as root (and therefore only removable with root rights);
  • xdebug – must work out of the box and be easily integrated with an IDE.

The implementation and usage

Magento2 offered a Docker container to work with. I will not say anything about it, since it wasn’t at all something I needed.

My main source of inspiration was: The project changed a lot since I’ve started, so I definitely think you should check it out.

The starter point is:

The relevant files are:

  • magento2 – it should contain a folder html with the project
  • dkc_short – it can reside anywhere, but it should be added to the files ~/.bash_profile or ~/.bashrc, this file contains shortcuts, it’s not necessary, but I like it because it make my life easier;
  • docker-compose.yml – it contains all the mappings and relevant containers.

NOTE: I think I should point out that the commands on the PHP container run in two ways, as the system user or as root. This is a limitation of the Linux implementation, please make a note of it, as I will refer to it later.

Step 1:

What you should do when starting a new project with an existing Magento2 repository:

1$ git clone project_name
2$ cd project_name
3$ git clone your_own_magento2_repository magento2/html

Step 2 (optional):

Copy the shortcuts to your bash console:

1$ cp dkc_short ~/
2$ echo ~/dkc_short >> ~/.bash_profile
3$ source ~/.bash_profile

NOTE: If you don’t have the file ~/.bash_profile on your computer, just use ~/.bashrc

Step 3:

Start the setup:

1$ dkc-up -d

It will take a bit of time the first time, but it will be a lot faster next time you run it.

Step 4:

Run composer install:

1$ dkc-php-run composer install

That’s about it.

What is this dkc stuff?

Well, I like to use tabs when running a command, so I added some aliases that allow me to run a Magento command without typing everything, I just type dkc[tab]p[tab]-[tab] and the command. I just love bash autocomplete.

The command list is very simple:

  • dkc-up -d – start the containers in the background
  • dkc-down – stop all containers
  • dkc-mag [command] – run a Magento2 command
  • dkc-clean – clear the cache
  • dkc-php-run – run a bash command inside the php container, like composer in the previous example. NOTE: This command is running as the system user, not as root.
  • dkc-exec phpfpm [command] – this is same as above, but running as root. You should almost always use the command above.
  • dkc-exec [container] [command] – this command needs a bit more explanation:
    • container can be:
      • app – for Nginx server,
      • phpfrm – for php container,
      • db – for database,
      • cache or fpc – for cache containers;
  • the command can be anything that applies to that container, like “bash” or “bash composer”, etc.

I know the commands seem like “one more thing to learn”, but most of the time you will only use the first 4 commands.

How does the magic work?

Well, to see what the above commands translate to, just check the “dkc_short” file.

There are only 2 other interesting repositories:

The repositories are pretty small and not very hard to understand.

If you need to modify anything, just feel free to fork the repositories.

The conclusion

That’s about all you need to know about it, I’ve been using this setup for almost 2 years.

For me, it’s working as a charm and I was able to use Magento2 on ultraportable laptop with 8Gb RAM without any issues.

The (happy) end!