Host web projects with a single command
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Hoi is a host management program that orchestrates other services, so web projects can be hosted with the execution of just one command. It automates setting up several aspects of a project i.e. SSL certificates, databases, cron jobs and HTTP auth for staging areas.

Aspects of a project are defined by the Hoifile, a short and sweet per project configuration file.

A note on stability: Although hoi is in the process of being stablized, the configuration format and API might change in backwards incompatible ways until reaching 1.0.


Hoi has been created to ease hosting of the growing number of Atelier Disko client web projects. By minimizing project setup costs, we want to enable ourselves to conduct experiments quickly.

It's as complicated as you want it to be. - Alexander Haensch, Source

First off: Kubernetes is a complex system. It does a lot and brings new abstractions. Those abstractions aren't always justified for all problems. I'm sure that there are plenty of people using Kubernetes that could get by with something simpler. - Joe Beda, Source

In architecting hoi we made sure to stay very pragmatic, thus hoi uses a pre-defined set of established/no-nonsense technologies.

Atelier Disko isn't primarly an infrastructure company, so we don't like to afford maintaining too ambitious solutions. Resources freed from deliberately choosing a more classic shared hosting architecture are re-invested into providing a stable, secure and performant hosting environment with good resource utilization.

Our projects are primarly Go and PHP-based web applications.

What's inside?

Hoi consists of a server (hoid) and a client (hoictl) to control and query the server. It features several modules (runners) which take care of the different needs of a project.

  • web: Serves the project under given domains, taking care of SSL certificates and basic auth where needed.

  • app service: Allows to use any service (built with i.e. Go, Node.js or Python) that can handle HTTP as a web backend.

  • php: Safely enables per project PHP(1) settings.

  • cron: Starts cron jobs while reducing resource congestion.

  • worker: Manages long running worker processes with resource controls.

  • db: Creates databases and users with minimum set of privileges.

  • volume: Mounts persistent and/or temporary volumes into the project.

Reducing Risk of Human Error

Hoi tries to prevent common mistakes that humans make when managing many projects on a daily basis. The following is an incomplete list of measures hoi takes.

  • no development TLDs in non development environments (i.e. .test)
  • no circular domain redirects or invalid re-usage of domain aliases
  • projects can't use database root user
  • no empty passwords in production environments

Is it for you?

If your hosting needs are similar and are ready to sacrifice the benefits of i.e. containers for ease of use or you are running services that are not well suited for per-project containers (i.e. PHP FPM or MySQL), hoi might also be something for you.


The latest installation packages for Debian and Ubuntu and pre-built binaries for Linux and Darwin can be downloaded from the releases page.

For Debian and Ubuntu we provide deb packages, that can be installed easily. Be sure to pick the latest version and the right architecture.

$ curl -L 
$ dpkg --install hoi_0.7.0-beta-1-amd64.deb

You will need to install from source if your distro isn't supported above, need a yet unreleased version or want to participate in the development of hoi.

$ go get
$ cd $GOPATH/src/
$ PREFIX= make install
$ cp conf/hoid.service /etc/systemd/system/
$ systemctl enable --now hoid

Project Configuration: The Hoifile

The Hoifile defines the needs of a project and provides a minimum set of configuration. The remaining configuration is discovered automatically once the project is loaded.

It uses a directive based configuration syntax similar to the NGINX configuration files.

A minimal Hoifile has 3 lines:

name = "example"
context = "prod"
domain "" {}

A more advanced Hoifile might look like this:

name = "example"
context = "prod"
domain "" {
  SSL = {
    certificate = "config/ssl/"
    certificateKey = "config/ssl/"
  aliases = ["", ""]
database "example" {
  password = "s3cret"
cron "reporter" {
  schedule = "daily"
  command = "bin/compile-report"
worker "media-processor" {
  instances = 2
  command = "bin/process-media"
volume "media_versions" {}
volume "tmp" {
  isTemporary = true

Loading and unloading the Hoifile

Once a project contains a Hoifile, it's loaded with a single command:

$ cd /var/www/foo
$ hoictl load

The loaded configuration can be further manipulated i.e. by adding an alias to a domain:

$ hoictl domain

Choosing an App HTTP Backend

Hoi understands 3 different kinds of app HTTP backends: static, php and service. Hoi will automatically discover the app backend kind and most of its configuration. If you however wish to fine tune it, you can do so using the app directive.

app {
  kind = "php"
  useFrontController = true

The service backend requires you to provide a command, that when executed, starts a HTTP service on the given port. Specifying host and port is optional, by default localhost and the next free port is used. SSL termination happens before it reaches the app.

app {
  kind = "service"
  command = "bin/server -l {{.P.App.Host}}:{{.P.App.Port}}"
  # host = ""
  # port = "8080"

Server Configuration: hoid.conf

Customizing Service Templates

The templates used by hoid to generate service configuration can be customized, they reside inside conf/templates and use Go Template syntax.

Copyright & License

Hoi is Copyright (c) 2016 Atelier Disko if not otherwise stated. Use of the source code is governed by a BSD-style license that can be found in the LICENSE file.

Versions & Requirements

  • The Go language >= 1.5 is required to build the project. Must have go vendor support enabled.

  • Hoi is continously tested on Linux and Darwin.

  • Generally systemd(1) is required. Recent systemd versions are always supported, older ones (i.e. 215) are probably supported via the useLegacy option.

  • The web runner requires nginx(8) and openssl(1). NGINX >= 1.9.5 is required, older versions can be used by enabling the useLegacy option. In legacy mode NGINX will log to STDERR and not use syslog/journald and disable HTTP2.

  • The PHP runner requires php-fpm(8). If you don't enable this runner you can drop this requirement.

  • The DB runner requires mysqld(8) or MariaDB. If you don't enable this runner you can drop this requirement. MySQL >= 5.7.6 or MariaDB >= 10.1.3 are required to use more efficient queries. By enabling useLegacy older versions may be used.


Hoi comes with unit tests which can be safely executed as they don't touch the system itself. The unit tests can be run via:

$ make unit-tests

Not everything is - yet - covered by unit tests. To conduct system tests this project comes with a Vagrantfile to boot up a VM. The system tests should only ever be run inside a VM as they modify the systen they run on.

HOST  $ go get
HOST  $ cd $GOPATH/src/
HOST  $ vagrant up
HOST  $ vagrant ssh
GUEST $ cd go/src/
GUEST $ sudo -i
GUEST $ make system-tests
GUEST $ systemctl start hoid
GUEST $ hoictl --project=/var/www/example load