Setting Up Docker From Nothing

Fri Jun 19, 2015


Docker… Starting from Nothing

On OS X, you will need Three applications… VirtualBox, Boot2Docker and Compose.


Because the Docker daemon uses Linux-specific kernel features, you can’t run Docker natively in OS X. Instead, you must install the Boot2Docker application.

1. Download/install VirtualBox

2. Install Boot2docker and Compose to run Docker on OS X.

$ brew install boot2docker docker-compose

Follow the Homebrew instructions to manage launching on startup, etc.

3. Create a new Boot2Docker VM. You only need to do this once, yay!

$ boot2docker init
$ boot2docker start

4. Display the environment variables for the Docker client.

$ boot2docker shellinit
Writing /Users/mary/.boot2docker/certs/boot2docker-vm/ca.pem
Writing /Users/mary/.boot2docker/certs/boot2docker-vm/cert.pem
Writing /Users/mary/.boot2docker/certs/boot2docker-vm/key.pem
    export DOCKER_HOST=tcp://
    export DOCKER_CERT_PATH=/Users/mary/.boot2docker/certs/boot2docker-vm
    export DOCKER_TLS_VERIFY=1

5. Set the environment variables in your shell:

$ eval "$(boot2docker shellinit)"

You’ll need to run this for every terminal session that invokes the docker or docker-compose command.

Auto initiate this by adding the following line to the bottom of either your .zshrc or .bashrc file:

$ eval `boot2docker shellinit 2>/dev/null`

6. Run the hello-world container to verify your setup.

$ docker run hello-world

Example Dockerfile for a Rails project

In the root directory of your Rails project, create a file called Dockerfile. Example contents for our Wildeisen project would be:

FROM ruby:2.2.2

RUN apt-get update -qq && apt-get install -y build-essential

# for postgres
RUN apt-get install -y libpq-dev

# for nokogiri
RUN apt-get install -y libxml2-dev libxslt1-dev

# for a JS runtime
# patch the version of Node since apt-get would grab an olllld version
RUN curl -sL | bash -
RUN apt-get install -y nodejs

# for npm task runners
# grab newer version, not from apt-get
RUN curl -L | sh

ENV APP_HOME /project

COPY Gemfile Gemfile
COPY Gemfile.lock Gemfile.lock
COPY package.json package.json
RUN bundle install
RUN npm install


# for running grunt task, which builds SVG sprites
RUN npm install -g grunt-cli


To build this Docker image, from Rails root run:

$ docker build .


Compose lets us configure our application from one yml file. Pretty sweet.

In the root directory of our Rails project, create a file called docker-compose.yml

Here’s a really basic example that works for my project:

  image: postgres

  image: redis

  build: .
   - .:/project
  command: bin/rails server --port 3000 --binding
   - db
   - redis
   - "3000:3000"

Then build the project with the above config:

$ docker-compose build

Now we can run it with our Docker container!

$ docker-compose up

You can find out which IP address to access the Rails server from by opening a new shell window and typing:

$ boot2docker ip

In my case, I can access, with the port we set in our yml file, 3000.

So voila, I can now see my Rails project in my browser at

Running npm watch/build tasks is easy too.

$ docker-compose run web npm run watch
$ docker-compose run web npm run build

or whatever task runners you have defined in your package.json file.