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As of beginning 2016 the docker toolset is not quite there to provide a heroku like experience when deploying to production. A lot of parts are already there, but have a few quirks that need to be addressed.

Because of that, the deployment strategy for is a bit different from what you read in the getting started with docker tutorials.

First, we don't use docker-machine. It's not reliable and has no team of maintainers comparable to other distros like debian, ubuntu or rhel that manages security releases.

Second, there's no way do daemonize the docker compose process. When the underlying VM is restarted, the stack won't start automatically.

The current strategy is:

  • Use a virtual machine with a well patched OS (debian, ubuntu, RHEL), is using ubuntu 14.04
  • Install docker, docker-compose, git and supervisord
  • Clone the code on the server
  • Let supervisord run it


The configuration in docker-compose.yml contains 4 services:

  • postgres that powers the database
  • django-a and django-b that runs the WSGI server and serves the app through gunicorn
  • caddy that proxies incoming requests to the gunicorn server
  • redis as cache

Deploy code changes

Website releases are managed through Fabric. When the deploy command is ran, Fabric will SSH to our production server, pull the latest changes from our GitHub repository, build a new Docker image, and then perform a blue/green deploy with our new container image.

fab deploy

or via just:

just deploy


To create a backup, run:

docker-compose run postgres backup

To list backups, run:

docker-compose run postgres list-backups

To restore a backup, run:

docker-compose run postgres restore filename.sql

Backups are located at /data/djangopackages/backups as plain SQL files.

Clear our Media Cache

Our static media files are behind a CDN. We occasionally need to purge cached files. To purge the cache:

docker-compose run django cli4 --delete purge_everything=true /zones/

Alternatively, you can use just

just purge_cache:

When Things Go Wrong

  • Is docker running?:
service docker status
  • Is supervisor and both daemonized processes running?:
supervisorctl status
  • Are all services running?:
cd /code/djangopackages
docker-compose ps
  • Check the logs for all services:
cd /code/djangopackages
docker-compose logs
  • Check the logs for individual services:
cd /code/djangopackages
docker-compose logs postgres|django-a|django-b|caddy