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ISLE: Islandora Enterprise 2



Docker Compose project for creating and managing an Islandora 8 instance using Docker containers from Docker Hub that were created by isle-buildkit.

In a nutshell, isle-dc generates a docker-compose.yml file for you based on configuration that you supply in a .env file. And there are three use cases we're trying to accomplish:

  • demo (Example site for kicking the tires and looking at Islandora)
  • local (Local development using composer/drush in the codebase folder)
  • custom (A custom Dockerfile to deploy created from local)

On top of that, there's a lot of useful commands for managing an Islandora instance, such as database import/export and reindexing.


  • Desktop / laptop / VM (Docker must have sufficient resources to run GNU Make)
  • Docker-CE 19.x+
  • Docker-compose version 1.25.x+
  • Git 2.0+
  • GNU Make 4.0+
  • At least 8GB of RAM (ideally 16GB)

before running any of the make commands below.

See release notes at

Getting Started

To get started with a demo environment, run:

make demo

Or if this demo environment is too simple, run make demo to create a demo site that is modeled after with some extra content imported via Islandora Workbench.

⚠️ If prompted during make up\demo\local\clean for password, use your computer's password. The build process may need elevated privileges to write or remove files. For other password information see Secrets

This will pull down images from Dockerhub and generate

File Purpose
.env A configuration file that is yours to customize. This file controls how the docker-compose.yml file gets generated to meet your use case.
It also allows you to set variables that make their way into the final docker-compose.yml file, such as your site's domain.
docker-compose.yml A ready to run docker-compose.yml file based on your .env file. This file is considered disposable. When you change your .env file, you will generate a new one.

Your new Islandora instance will be available at Don't let the funny URL fool you, it's a dummy domain that resolves to

If you do not have secrets enabled, you can log into Drupal as admin using the default password: password. Otherwise you can find the password in the file ./secrets/live/DRUPAL_DEFAULT_ACCOUNT_PASSWORD.

Enjoy your Islandora instance! Check out the Islandora documentation to see all the things you can do. If you want to poke around, here's all the services that are available to visit:

Service URL
Code Server

When you're done with your demo environment, shut it down by running

docker-compose down

This will keep your data around until the next time you start your instance. If you want to completely destroy the repository and all ingested data, use

docker-compose down -v

# OR a better option because it removes these directories (codebase/ certs/ secrets/live/) and
# resets all files back to their original states. This takes it back to a clean slate.

make clean

Local Development

When developing locally, your Drupal site resides in the codebase folder and is bind-mounted into your Drupal container. This lets you update code using the IDE of your choice on your host machine, and the changes are automatically reflected on the Drupal container. Simply place any exported Drupal site as the codebase folder in isle-dc and you're good to go.

If you don't provide a codebase, you'll be given a basic setup from vanilla Drupal 9 instance with the Islandora module installed and the bare minimum configured to run. This is useful if you want to build your repository from scratch and avoid islandora_defaults.

If you've included configuration in your exported site using drush config:export, then you'll need to set two values in your .env file:


In either case, run one of these commands to make a local environment.

make local

The former will create a starter site modeled off of

If you already have a Drupal site but don't know how to export it, log into your server, navigate to the Drupal root, and run the following commands:

  • drush config:export
  • git init
  • git add -A .
  • git commit -m "First export of site"

Then you can git push your site to Github and git clone it down whenever you want.

Custom Environment

This environment is used to run your custom drupal image which can be produced outside of this repository. You can specify the image in your .env file using the settings PROJECT_DRUPAL_DOCKERFILE if you want to build it in the context of this repository. You can also set the memory limits for each containers here as well.

For convenience a sample.Dockerfile is provided from which you can generate a custom image from the codebase folder. For example if you followed the guide above to create the codebase folder from the islandora/demo image.

And then run it by changing ENVIRONMENT to be custom and regenerating the docker-compose.yml file and building the image.

make docker-compose.yml
make build

At this point you could run it using docker-compose:

docker-compose up -d

To specify an image created outside of this repository, you can add the following to docker-compose.env.yml:


Shutting down and bring back up

To run a non-destructive shutdown and bring it back up without having to know the docker commands needed. This keeps all of the commands for basic operations within the make commands.

# Shut down isle-dc with losing work.
make down

# Bring isle-dc back up from where it left off
make up

# If make hasn't been run this will run make demo


When running Islandora in the wild, you'll want to use secrets to store sensitive information such as credentials. Secrets are communicated from the docker host to the individual containers over an encrypted channel, making it much safer to run in production.

Some confd backends, such as etcd, can be used to serve secrets directly. Simply expose etcd over https and nothing else needs to be done. But for other backends, particularly environment variables, you must mount the secrets into containers as files using docker-compose. During startup, the files' contents are read into the container environment and made available to confd.

To enable using secrets prior to running the make commands, copy sample.env to .env. Set USE_SECRETS=true in your .env file. Make a copy of the files in /secrets/template/ to /secrets/live/.

To enable using secrets after run make local or make up, set USE_SECRETS=true in your .env file. When you run make docker-compose.yml, a large block of secrets will be added at the top of your docker-compose.yml file.

    file: "./secrets/live/ACTIVEMQ_PASSWORD"
    file: "./secrets/live/ACTIVEMQ_WEB_ADMIN_PASSWORD"

Each secret references a file in the secrets/live directory. These files are generated by make. Each secrets file is named the exact same as the environment variable it intends to replace. The contents of each file will be used as the value for the secret.

To automatically run secret generator without prompting (for creating a CICD/sandbox process) use:

bash scripts/ yes

Quick Drupal "admin" password reset

Run make set_admin_password and it will prompt the user to enter in a new password. Enter it in and the password for the "admin" user will be set to the new password.

$ make set_admin_password
Password: ***
Setting admin password now
 [success] Changed password for admin.


Islandora is composed of many different services, this project has split these services up such that they have their own Container.

For in-depth documentation of the various islandora images see the isle-buildkit repository.

Other services will be documented below:

Code Server

The code-server container allows a user to edit / debug their Drupal site from their browser.

The code-server service can be disabled/enabled via the INCLUDE_CODE_SERVER_SERVICE variable in your .env file.

# Includes `code-server` as a service.
  • Run make local, make up, or make demo to build the containers and local file system(s).
  • Then modify the .env file.
  • Then make pull then make up to fetch the builds. It will then report it created the code-server and recreated traefik and drupal containers.

By default this will accessible at

If you do not have secrets enabled, you can login with the default password: password. Otherwise you can find the password in the file ./secrets/live/CODE_SERVER_PASSWORD.

N.B: Do not expose this service on the internet without setting a strong password via the ./secrets/live/CODE_SERVER_PASSWORD, or better yet do not expose it at all, and instead use port forward to access it if you have the need. Exposing this service in an insecure way will allow root access to your server to the public.

To enable xdebug for your request, you must also send an XDEBUG_SESSION cookie with your request, this can be toggled on and off via a browser plugin such as the following.


The watchtower container monitors the running Docker containers and watches for changes to the images that those containers were originally started from. If watchtower detects that an image has changed, it will automatically restart the container using the new image. This allows for automatic deployment, and overall faster development time.

Note however Watchtower will not restart stopped container or containers that exited due to error. To ensure a container is always running, unless explicitly stopped, add restart: unless-stopped property to the container in the [docker-compose.yml] file. For example:

    image: islandora/mariadb:latest
    restart: unless-stopped

The watchtower can be disabled/enabled via the INCLUDE_WATCHTOWER_SERVICE variable in your .env file.

# Includes `watchtower` as a service.


The traefik container acts as a reverse proxy, and exposes some containers through port 80/443/3306.

Since Drupal passes links to itself in the messages it passes to the microservices, and occasionally other URLs need to be resolved on containers that do not have external access, we define aliases for most services on the internal network.

Aliases like so are defined on most services to mimic their routing rules in Traefik:

    image: islandora/demo:latest
    # ...

The traefik service can be disabled/enabled via the INCLUDE_TRAEFIK_SERVICE variable in your .env file.

# Includes `traefik` as a service.


The etcd container is a distributed reliable key-value store, which this project can use for configuration settings and secrets.

It is not enabled by default.

# Includes `etcd` as a service.

Add Custom Makefile Commands

To add custom Makefile commands without adding upstream git conflict complexity, just create a new custom.Makefile and the Makefile will automatically include it. This can be a completely empty file that needs no header information. Just add a function in the following format.

.PHONY: lowercasename
.SILENT: lowercasename
## This is the help description that comes up when using the 'make help` command. This needs to be placed with 2 # characters, after .PHONY & .SILENT but before the function call. And only take up a single line.
	echo "first line in command needs to be indented. There are exceptions to this, review functions in the Makefile for examples of these exceptions."

NOTE: A target you add in the custom.Makefile will not override an existing target with the same label in this repository's defautl Makefile.

Running the new custom.Makefile commands are exactly the same as running any other Makefile command. Just run make and the function's name.

make lowercasename


Post your questions here and subscribe for updates, meeting announcements, and technical support

For common errors, see docs/


If you would like to contribute to this project, please check out In addition, we have helpful Documentation for Developers info, as well as our Developers section on the site.

drush --debug sql:dump --extra-dump="--column-statistics=0" > /tmp/dump.sql^C


Architecture Team


This project has been sponsored by:

  • Grinnell College
  • Tri-College (Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, Swarthmore College)
  • Wesleyan University
  • Williams College
  • Colgate University
  • Hamilton College
  • Amherst College
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • Franklin and Marshall College
  • Whitman College
  • Smith College
  • Arizona State University
  • Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC)
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Tulane University
  • Born-Digital