Working With Docker Compose and Its Basic Commands.

By | June 1, 2019

We already have a blog for the docker compose installation procedures which you can refer from the here. In this particular blog, we would be discussing the use of docker compose and would also be looking into its demonstration by running a simple nginx container.

For this demo, we would be using an AWS ec2 instance, though you can use it on your local machine as well.

Note: Please install Docker and docker compose before you start.

Let’s get started,

Clone a sample nginx repository from the devopsage Github public repository. 

ubuntu@devopsage:~$ git clone

ubuntu@devopsage ls

 ubuntu@devopsage:~$ cd docker-compose-nginx/
 ubuntu@devopsage:~/docker-compose-nginx$ ls -lrth
 total 28K
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu  102 Jun  1 16:47 web2.Dockerfile
 drwxrwxr-x 2 ubuntu ubuntu 4.0K Jun  1 16:47 web2
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu   95 Jun  1 16:47 web1.Dockerfile
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu   30 Jun  1 16:47 index.html
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu  137 Jun  1 16:47 docker-compose.yml
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu  286 Jun  1 16:47 default.conf
 -rw-rw-r-- 1 ubuntu ubuntu   78 Jun  1 16:47

So here, We will be using 2 different containers for nginx, hosting 2 different sample pages.

Build the web1.Dockerfile

ubuntu@devopsage:~/docker-compose-nginx$ docker build -t nginx:1.0 -f web1.Dockerfile .

The output of the above command:

Similarly, build the web2.Dockerfile using the below command.

ubuntu@devopsage:~/docker-compose-nginx$ docker build -t nginx:1.2 -f web2.Dockerfile .

Output will be as below,

Now, We will have 2 docker images, nginx:1.0 (web1) and nginx:1.2 (web2) which we will be using in the docker compose and will be exposing the port to 80 and 90 respectively.

Just have a look at the docker compose file.

version: '3'
     image: nginx:1.0
       - 80:80
     image: nginx:1.2
       - 90:80

Here we are using 2 services web1 and web2, each of the services has its image and the port to which we need to expose. Now, let’s run the docker compose file.

ubuntu@devopsage:~/docker-compose-nginx$ docker-compose up -d


Check for the running container by using # docker ps

Now, Try to access the running application,

http://Public_IP   –> For web1

http://Public_IP:90 –> For web2

Use Local address or localhost when using locally.

Now, remove the environment using the below docker compose command. This will remove both the containers, networks, etc. In general, the things created by docker compose will be completely removed.

ubuntu@devopsage:~/docker-compose-nginx$ docker-compose down

Optional: If you are running above command not from the present working directory then you can define -f option for the docker compose file.

ubuntu@devopsage:~$ docker-compose -f docker-compose-nginx/docker-compose.yml up -d


You will no longer be able to see running containers.

Important Docker Compose Commands.

To Run the compose file from the current directory with the container output.

# docker-compose up

To run the Compose file from the current directory as a daemon to run in the background (Detached Mode). ( -d option)

# docker-compose up -d

To Run specifying the docker compose file full path. ( -f option )

# docker-compose -f docker-compose-nginx/docker-compose.yml up -d

To Specify an alternate project name use -p option, by default it uses directory name.

# docker-compose -f docker-compose-nginx/docker-compose.yml -p my_webapp up -d

To Remove the container for the Service not defined in the docker compose file. for example, if you have run the docker compose file and later updated the docker file with few more services, then in order to bring the compose down we have to use –remove-orphans option.

# docker-compose -f docker-compose-nginx/docker-compose.yml -p my_webapp down --remove-orphans

If a single service from the compose file need to be stopped. (option: stop)

# docker-compose -f docker-compose-nginx/docker-compose.yml -p my_webapp stop web1

To remove the service stopped from the docker compose in the above command. (option: rm)

# docker-compose -f docker-compose-nginx/docker-compose.yml -p my_webapp rm web1

To Create one specific service from the docker compose. (option: create)

# docker-compose -f docker-compose-nginx/docker-compose.yml -p my_webapp create web1

To Start the Created Service (option: start)

# docker-compose -f docker-compose-nginx/docker-compose.yml -p my_webapp start web1

To Restart specific service from the compose file. (option: restart). It is effective when you make any changes to the compose file and wanted the changes to be reflected. You can restart that particular service.

# docker-compose -f docker-compose-nginx/docker-compose.yml -p my_webapp restart web1

Now We will see how we can build the Dockerfile from the docker compose file itself and use the build image to run the container. We have to make Some modification to the compose file and use –build option in the command. Let’s see the below modified docker compose file. Change to our docker-compose-nginx directory

ubuntu@devopsage:~$ cd docker-compose-nginx
ubuntu@devopsage:~/docker-compose-nginx$ cat docker-compose.yml 
 version: '3'
       context: .
       dockerfile: web1.Dockerfile
       - 80:80
       context: .
       dockerfile: web2.Dockerfile
       - 90:80 

Now, run the below command to build and run the container at the same time.

ubuntu@devopsage:~/docker-compose-nginx$ docker-compose up -d --build

Output of the command:

Login to the created container from the docker compose command.

ubuntu@devopsage:~/docker-compose-nginx$ docker-compose exec web1 sh
 / #

You are logged in to the container. use exit or ctrl+d to come out of the container.

To list the running container using docker compose

ubuntu@devopsage:~/docker-compose-nginx$ docker-compose ps

            Name                     Command          State         Ports       
 docker-compose-nginx_web1_1   nginx -g daemon off;   Up>80/tcp
 docker-compose-nginx_web2_1   nginx -g daemon off;   Up>80/tcp

To pause the service (running container)

ubuntu@devopsage:~/docker-compose-nginx$ docker-compose pause web1
ubuntu@devopsage:~/docker-compose-nginx$ docker ps

 CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                       COMMAND                  CREATED             STATUS                  PORTS                NAMES
 f4a0aba5363d        docker-compose-nginx_web2   "nginx -g 'daemon of…"   2 minutes ago       Up 2 minutes  >80/tcp   docker-compose-nginx_web2_1
 f2d147552c4f        docker-compose-nginx_web1   "nginx -g 'daemon of…"   2 minutes ago       Up 2 minutes (Paused)>80/tcp   docker-compose-nginx_web1_1

To Unpause

# docker-compose unpause web1

To Kill Conatiner.

# docker-compose kill web1

Display the running process

# docker-compose top

To See Compose version

# docker-compose version

That’s It for this blog. I have tried to cover the use cases and all the important command in use. For more details you can check the official docker page and also check docker compose help section from the terminal.

# docker-compose help

You May Also need to look At the below posts,

How to Install Docker on Redhat/CentOS 7

How to Install Docker on Ubuntu 16.04

Install Docker Compose on Linux – Ubuntu/CentOS.

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