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Build a custom LEMP stack and run virtual domains utilising Docker containers
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Hello 👋

Saber is a tool that allows you to set-up a fully functioning LEMP stack using Docker 🐳

Just a single command to run and you're up and running!

saber new your-site

Each part of the LEMP stack is constructed in a separate container.

  • PHP
  • MySQL / MariaDB

When the application is set-up, you can access your new app by visiting it in your browser at http://your-site.test

A self-signed certificate can be assigned to the stack and uses the latest TLS security features.


Configuring DNSMasq

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DNSMasq is required so that Saber can function correctly. Here's a quick guide on getting it set-up. For a more detailed explanation, I recommend reading this article.

Install DNSMasq - this guide uses Brew

brew install dnsmasq

Open /usr/local/etc/dnsmasq.conf and anywhere in the file, add this line


Restart DNSMasq

brew services restart dnsmasq

Then test it by running a dig command

dig my.awesome-website.test @

If you get a response like so, it works!

my.awesome-website.test. 0 IN A

Now you need to configure DNSMasq so it can control the way the DNS queries are performed.

sudo mkdir -p /etc/resolver

sudo tee /etc/resolver/test > /dev/null << EOF

Now any site with a .test TLD will resolve to your localhost

$ ping -c 5
PING ( 56 data bytes
64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=64 time=0.039 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.084 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.209 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.200 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=4 ttl=64 time=0.142 ms

--- ping statistics ---
5 packets transmitted, 5 packets received, 0.0% packet loss

Why Saber?

Why should you use Saber over something like Valet or Homestead?

Saber is heavily inspired by Valet. While not a complete fork, it's referenced a lot in the style and format of the code.

Saber was built purely as a fun project to be able to quickly spin up a development environment that can be customised exactly how it is needed to run.

Saber puts customisation ahead of speed when it comes to creating a new development environment. It might take longer to have to pull down Docker images and build them but it means you can have a server specced up to exactly as you want.


The installation consists of moving all files into ~/.config/saber.

The saber executable is symlinked to /usr/local/bin for global usage.

There are two methods for installing Saber:

Method #1

First, you need to install the package.

composer create-project cjmellor/saber <target-directory>

cd to the target directory then run

./saber install

Method #2

Clone the repo

git clone

Install using the command

./saber install

and get the dependencies

composer update

The Saber executable will then be available globally.

Available installation options

Option Default Description
php 7.2 Just a version number (e.g. 5.6, 7.4)
db mariadb:latest db:version (e.g. mysql:5.7). latest also allowed

Create an App

saber new my-site

Creating an app will spin up the Dockerized LEMP stack.

Your application can be viewed at its domain of the same name (i.e. an app named saber-test will be viewable at http://saber-test.test). By default, the TLD will always be .test.

Currently, there is no way to change the TLD using Saber. This will change in future versions - PR's welcome!

Database Management

The default credentials are:

User root
Pass password
Database default

You can log in to the database as you normally would, via a command line or a GUI.

mysql -h -P 3306 -u root -p


Without specifying otherwise, the application will be unsecure (http). If you want to run the app more securely, when creating your app, specify the --tls tag

saber new my-secure-site --tls

This will create a self-signed certificate. Using the latest security protocols, the application can run on the latest version of TLS (1.3).

Currently there is no way to switch SSL's on or off, they must be added on the creation of a new app. This will be rectified in newer versions - PR's welcome!


Each app created with Saber is configurable. You can enable or disable features that matter to you and how you want your environment setup.

When a new app is created, all the NGINX and PHP config is stored in a lemp folder within' the root (~/.config/saber)

The NGINX config for each app can be found in:

  • lemp/nginx/config/conf.d/

The PHP config for each app can be found in:

  • lemp/php/config

Don't forget to restart the containers if you make changes to these files


Saber utilises the awesome H5BP project which keeps the application secure and up-to-date with the latest fixes.

Remove an App

saber remove app-name

You can remove an app if you no longer require it.

This will remove the certificates, the PHP and NGINX configurations and the code folder.


Not your cup of tea? That's okay, you can uninstall Saber from your machine - but you will lose everything!

saber uninstall


🚨 I encourage you to help me make this tool even more useful! I will be adding more features to it over time.

🐛 There are bound to be some bugs hiding away that have not been counted for - help me get rid of them by creating an issue.

⬇️ Please, submit a Pull Request and help me make this tool even better. I'm looking forward to working with other developers on this.


Feel free to get in touch! I'm contactable on Twitter @cmellor

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