Docker and Octopress

This post describes how I created my first customized docker image(s).

I have been watching the docker space for a while and finally found a private use-case: This blog uses Octopress, which is a ruby-based convenience-wrapper around Jekyll. Jekyll is a static web-site generator provided by GitHub. Octopress requires some old libs: Ruby 1.9.3, Python 2.7, and nodejs.

So, to use Octopress on any machine, I have to either:

  • configure the machine to use specific versions of Ruby, Python and NodeJs. Works.
    • Drawback: Other projects using different versions of Ruby, Python, NodeJs won’t work out of the box.
  • use version managers for Ruby, Python and NodeJs (f.ex. rvm, virtualenv, nvm). Works.
    • Drawback: Tedious setup which differs between OSes.
  • use a virtual machine. Works.
    • Drawback: Not easily portable due to size of virtual machine image.
  • Or, I could use docker.

I decided to give docker a spin.

My primary goal was to be able to blog from any (linux) machine running docker.

From a birds-eye view my goal is to:

  • install a docker image on any machine
  • and run a docker container with my blog mounted as shared folder (so I can edit the content on the host system, but compilation, preview and publishing is accomplished from within the docker container)

My secondary goal was to get my hands dirty with docker :-)

Obviously docker also has potential usage for other development setups (i.e. testing application code in local docker container before pushing to CI to reduce roundtrip time).


I created 3 docker images, which build upon each other:

  • Docker 00: base image including Ruby, Python and NodeJs
  • Docker 01: image with docker ENTRYPOINT
  • Docker 02: image optimized for octopress usage

Here is the folder structure:

├── 00_ruby_base
│   ├──
│   └── Dockerfile
├── 01_user
│   ├──
│   ├── Dockerfile
│   └──
├── 02_octopress
│   ├──
│   ├── Dockerfile
│   ├──
│   └──
└── share
    └── octopress

Each image (00*, 01*, 02*) contains a Dockerfile and a file. Only the last image (02*) contains a file.

  • Dockerfiles contain the instructions for building a docker image.
  • files invoke the Dockerfile.

Docker 00: base image

Since I couldn’t find a simple Ruby image of 1.9.3 at docker hub I decided to create my own.

Knowing my use-case (Octopress), I also installed Python2.7 and NodeJs for my base docker image. This image is the only one that takes quite some time to build.


FROM debian:jessie

# Get the dependencies for Octopress page generation
## Notes:
## - Python 2.7 is required for using pygments gem.
## - NodeJs is required for execjs Gem
RUN apt-get update && \
    apt-get --no-install-recommends -y install \
    autoconf \
    bison \
    build-essential \
    libssl-dev \
    libyaml-dev \
    locales \
    libreadline6-dev \
    zlib1g-dev \
    libncurses5-dev \
    libffi-dev \
    libgdbm3 \
    libgdbm-dev \
    nodejs \
    python2.7 \
    wget \
    ca-certificates \
    curl && \
    apt-get clean && \
    rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/* /tmp/* /var/tmp/*

# Set LOCALE to UTF8
RUN echo "en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8" > /etc/locale.gen && \
    locale-gen en_US.UTF-8 && \
    dpkg-reconfigure --frontend=noninteractive locales && \
    /usr/sbin/update-locale LANG=en_US.UTF-8

# Install ruby (adopted from
    RUBY_VERSION=1.9.3-p551 \
    RUBY_DOWNLOAD_SHA256=bb5be55cd1f49c95bb05b6f587701376b53d310eb1bb7c76fbd445a1c75b51e8 \
RUN set -ex && \
    curl -SL -o ruby.tar.gz "$RUBY_MAJOR/ruby-$RUBY_VERSION.tar.gz" && \
    echo "$RUBY_DOWNLOAD_SHA256 ruby.tar.gz" | sha256sum -c - && \
    mkdir -p /usr/src/ruby && \
    tar -xzf ruby.tar.gz -C /usr/src/ruby --strip-components=1 && \
    rm -f ruby.tar.gz && \
    cd /usr/src/ruby && \
    autoconf && \
    ./configure --disable-install-doc --sysconfdir=/etc/ && \
    make && \
    make install && \
    gem update --system $RUBYGEMS_VERSION && \
    rm -rf /usr/src/ruby

# Create soft link for python
RUN ln -s /usr/bin/python2.7 /usr/bin/python

Here is a short description of what happens in this Dockerfile:

RUN apt-get ...

…retrieves required packages from the debian package repository.

RUN echo "en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8" > /etc/locale.gen ...

…ensures the default system language uses UTF8 (required by some packages).

RUN set -ex && curl... && make ...

…downloads, compiles and installs Ruby from scratch (this step takes some time!).

RUN ln -s /usr/bin/python2.7 /usr/bin/python

…creates a soft link to Python2.7.

Docker build

To execute the previous Dockerfile, run ./

docker build -t draptik/ruby1.9.3-python2.7-nodejs:0.1 .

Make the file executable (chmod 744

Ensure to replace draptik with some other string (f.ex. your name, initials or company) to build your own image. F.ex. docker build -t homersimpson/ruby1.9.3-python2.7-nodejs:0.1 .

Since this image is going to be the base image for the next step, ensure to always use the same name (f.ex. homersimpson).

You can verify that the docker build step worked as expected by listing all docker images using docker images. The output should be similar to:

$ docker images
REPOSITORY          TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
homersimpson/ruby1.9.3-python2.7-nodejs:0.1   0.1                 641ca1a59e87        8 days ago          486 MB
debian              jessie              e5599115b6a6        4 weeks ago         123 MB

Docker 01: user

Here is where things start getting difficult. Sharing a folder from the host system with docker. And keeping permissions/users in sync…

Some things to know about sharing a volume in docker

Sharing data between host and docker container is normally accomplished by docker run -v host-location/folder:container-location/folder.

Be aware, though:

  • The volume will be owned by the container
  • The container’s default user is root (UID/GID 1)!
  • The container will change the UID/GID on the host system!

My workaround

I found this post by Deni Bertovic. In short, the post proposes to use docker’s ENTRYPOINT to pipe all RUN commands through the ENTRYPOINT. Which in turn is a bash script (, see below), creating a new user, and executing all docker commands as user. This is where I start walking on very thin ice… Nevertheless, I created another docker image based on the base image from the previous step.


Make sure to replace draptik in the FROM string…

FROM draptik/ruby1.9.3-python2.7-nodejs:0.1

# For details see

RUN apt-get update && apt-get -y --no-install-recommends install \
    ca-certificates \

RUN gpg --keyserver --recv-keys B42F6819007F00F88E364FD4036A9C25BF357DD4
RUN curl -o /usr/local/bin/gosu -SL "$(dpkg --print-architecture)" \
    && curl -o /usr/local/bin/gosu.asc -SL "$(dpkg --print-architecture).asc" \
    && gpg --verify /usr/local/bin/gosu.asc \
    && rm /usr/local/bin/gosu.asc \
    && chmod +x /usr/local/bin/gosu

COPY /usr/local/bin/

ENTRYPOINT ["/usr/local/bin/"]

For further details about the above Dockerfile refer to aforementioned post by Deni.

The file should be located beside the Dockerfile:


# Add local user
# Either use the LOCAL_USER_ID if passed in at runtime or
# fallback


echo "Starting with UID : $USER_ID"
useradd --shell /bin/bash -u $USER_ID -o -c "" -m user
export HOME=/home/user

exec /usr/local/bin/gosu user "$@"

Docker build

…and the corresponding docker build command (again, wrapped in a file):

docker build -t draptik/ruby1.9.3-python2.7-nodejs-user:0.1 .

…again, make sure to replace draptik

Docker 02: octopress

Because, in addition to mounting the content of my blog, I also mount the blog-engine itself (using docker run -v <orig-location>:<container-location>) I also have to execute an initial script within the mounted folder to setup the blog-engine. To prepare the environment for this script I create a customized ~/.gemrc and ~/.bashrc file in the Dockerfile. For this purpose I mount another file from the docker run script (, which must be executed from within the container.


(Make sure to replace draptik in the FROM string…)

FROM draptik/ruby1.9.3-python2.7-nodejs-user:0.1

# I am not really sure why this is needed, because we have an ENTRYPOINT in the parent image.
RUN useradd -ms /bin/bash user

# Setup ruby/bundler to work with non-admin user
RUN echo "gem: --user-install" > /home/user/.gemrc && chown user:user /home/user/.gemrc
RUN echo "PATH=\"/home/user/.gem/ruby/1.9.1/bin:$PATH\"" >> /home/user/.bashrc && chown user:user /home/user/.bashrc

WORKDIR /octopress

You might be wondering why I am explicitly creating a new user (RUN useradd -ms /bin/bash user). Valid question. In the next 2 lines I write some config values to files which are located in the /home/user/ folder. I was not able to do this without first explicitly creating the user. Probably not best practice, but it works. I would be very grateful for feedback on this issue.

Docker build

(…again, make sure to replace draptik…)

docker build -t draptik/octopress:0.1 .

Starting the final image as docker container

The following script starts the docker container:

docker run \
    --rm \
    -it \
    -e LOCAL_USER_ID=`id -u $USER` \
    -p 4001:4001 \
    -v ${PWD}/../share/octopress:/octopress \
    -v ${PWD}/ \
    draptik/octopress:0.1 \

Some notes about the docker run options:

  • --rm ensures that the docker container is removed once exited
  • -it runs an interactive terminal as soon as the container starts
  • -e LOCAL_USER... sets the host user’s ID within the docker container
  • -p ... maps the port numbers
  • -v ${PWD}/../share/octopress:/octopress mounts the blog volume
  • -v ${PWD}/ mounts the post install script

Mounting volumes in docker using docker-machine or Docker for Windows on windows requires some extra path-tweaking. I intend to add these tweaks in the future…


Yet another step… After docker mounted the external volumes from the host, they have to be configured (including our blogging engine).

That is the reason for the script. It must be run from within the container!

IMPORTANT: Ensure to replace the git user name/email in Otherwhise you will not be able to deploy!

# This script must be executed in ~ folder (not in /octopress)!
gem install --no-ri --no-rdoc \
	bundler \

cd /octopress
# Important: use `--path...`!
bundle install --path $HOME/.gem

git config --global "FirstName LastName"
git config --global ""

Final usage for Octopress users

All images are published to docker hub.

Just run docker pull draptik/octopress:0.1.

  • Create a folder for your blog: mkdir blog && cd blog
  • Create a folder for the blog content: mkdir share && cd share

Initially clone octopress in share folder:

git clone -b source <octopress-git-repo> octopress
cd octopress
git clone -b master <octopress-git-repo> _deploy

Then, run the script.

From within the newly created docker container, follow the steps from the post-install section above.

You should now be able to use Octopress from within the docker container (i.e. rake new_post["test"], rake generate, rake preview, rake deploy, etc.) while being able to edit your posts on the host machine.


It helps if you have a linux background, since all docker images are linux based. Setting up a customized docker image can be a bit tedious (especially configuring user privileges and mounting host folders), but once the image works you have an automated and reproducible environment. I think this makes it worth the effort.

Obviously I am just starting with docker, so take my example above with a grain of salt. But maybe the example gives you a starting point for your own docker experiments.

As always: Thankful for feedback!

You can find the complete source code at Github here:

The docker images are hosted at Docker Hub:

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