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A barebones Docker image with essentials for PHP/Hack development and deployment.

Batteries included:

  • Web servers: Proxygen, Nginx (Optional)
  • Runtimes: HHVM 3.12.1, Node.js 5.9, Python 2.7.
  • Package managers: composer, npm.
  • Development: git, curl.

Recent changes:

What's new in v4.0?:

  • Upgraded to Debian Jessie (google/debian -> debian).
  • Updated packages: HHVM 3.12.1, Node.js 5.9.
  • New developer tools: vmenu, vinstall.
  • Nginx is available again, but it is not installed by default.
  • New build scripts.

What's new in v3.2?:

  • Nginx is dropped in favor of HHVM's built-in web server (Proxygen).
  • HHVM 3.11.0 (with PHP 7 support).
  • Node.js 5.0.

What's new in v3?:

  • Uses google/debian instead of ubuntu.
  • Newer version of included packages.
  • Image size optimizations.


  • Docker 1.7+
  • Docker Compose (Optional)

Getting started

Getting a shell inside a Vertex container is easy, even if it is your first time using Docker:


Pull down a pre-built image from the, and run a shell inside the container afterwards:

docker run -ti begin

From the source code:

First, you need to clone this git repository:

git clone
cd vertex

Option 1: Using Make

If you have make installed, we have simplified the process for you:

make login

The provided Makefile essentially just calls Docker Compose for you and gets a shell up and going.

Alternatively, you may also just build the image:


NOTE: These commands will only allow you to build and login to the container. They will not automatically bind ports for your servers. See the sections below for instructions on how to get servers running and binding ports.

Option 2: Using Docker Compose

With Docker Compose, it is also pretty easy to get a container running:

# First, build the image:
docker-compose build

# Then, login:
docker-compose run web begin

NOTE: These commands will only allow you to build and login to the container. They will not automatically bind ports for your servers. See the sections below for instructions on how to get servers running and binding ports.

Option 3: Using the Docker CLI

If you would like to understand how the internal works, we recommend building the image by hand by interacting with the Docker CLI directly:

docker build -t vertex .

# This may take some time if it is the first Vertex image you 
# have built on your system

# Start hacking:
docker run -it vertex begin

# Allow a server to run on port 80:
docker run -it -p 80:80 vertex begin

NOTE: Unlike options 1 and 2, the last command will actually bind a port for your HTTP server for you. See the sections below for instructions on how to get servers running and binding ports.

Getting your files inside the container:

Depending on which of the options above you chose to get Vertex running on your machine, you might have already some directories mounted inside the container.


Docker has allows you to mount external directories or even share them between containers through a concept called Volumes. If you used the Makefile or Docker Compose, the current working directory was automatically mounted into /var/www/vertex.

If you are using the Docker CLI, you can replicate this by using the -v parameter:

docker run -ti vertex -v $(pwd):/var/www/vertex

# Custom mapping are also possible:
docker run -ti vertex -v $(pwd):/opt/mynodeapp
docker run -ti vertex -v /home/user1/app:/opt/myapp

Using a Dockerfile and ADD or COPY:

If you are using Vertex as the base image of your project, you may add files to the image by using the ADD and COPY commands:

# ...

# It is possible to override the default PHP project:
ADD . /var/www/vertex

# Add arbitrary files:
ADD app.js /app.js

# Or even replace existing configuration files:
ADD site.ini /vertex/hhvm/site.ini

PHP and Hack Development

The sample project:

Vertex is pre-configured with a default PHP project inside /var/www/vertex. You can add any framework to this directory, such as Laravel, Wordpress, Symfony, or even your own. Public files are assumed to be in /var/www/vertex/public, which is where the web server will server files from.

This default setup is useful if you're looking to get a server running a PHP project with the least amount of configuration possible. However, if you need to change the default HHVM settings, you will need to add your own configurations files inside the container.

Note: Make sure that when adding files, they are still executable by HHVM which uses the www-data user.

IMPORTANT: For more information on getting files on the container, read the section above. Using the Makefile or Docker Compose from the wrong directory could break the default project.

Once the server is running you should see the following page:



Mount the current directory into /var/www/vertex and start HHVM:

docker run -it -v "$(pwd):/var/www/vertex" -p 80:80

Note: This makes the assumption that your project has a public directory. Otherwise, modify the -v option to point to a directory with an index.php or index.html file.

From the Vertex GitHub repository:

If you pulled etcinit/vertex from GitHub, you can run a server using the Makefile or manually:

Start HHVM at port 80:

make server

# -- OR --

docker run -ti -p 80:80 -v $(pwd):/var/www/vertex vertex

Dockerfiles and pre-built images

The purpose of Vertex is to have a pre-built image with some of the basic dependencies for a PHP project. The benefit? Saved time. This image is built automatically on If one of your projects uses it as a base image, you don't need to waste time downloading common dependencies.

NOTE: While Vertex saves some time, it is no replacement for a single purpose image. If you need a small image, please build your own or use one from a Docker registry.

Dockerfile workflow

To use it as part of a project:

Your project needs to have Dockerfile on the root directory of the project. Review the Docker documentation for more information about the syntax and purpose of this file.

Adding the following line to the top of your docker file specifies the base image:


NOTE: Remove FROM ubuntu if you were using ubuntu as the base image. You can only have one base image. Vertex is based on Debian.

Example usage:

The following is an example of how to use Vertex in a PHP project:


# Add the current directory into the image. This replaces the sample project.
ADD . /var/www/vertex

# Set the current working directory
WORKDIR /var/www/vertex

# Run composer update
RUN composer update

# Expose ports

# Logs volume
VOLUME ["/var/www/vertex/storage/logs"]

# Start servers
CMD ["/opt/"]

If you don't mount your project using the -v tag while using docker run, your code won't automatically update inside the container; it will only update during a docker build.

Once you have a Dockerfile, you can build your application image (Here we will tag it as php-app for reference):

docker build -t php-app .

Note: Don't forget about the dot at the end

After your image is built, you can run it:

docker run -ti -p 80:80 php-app

# Additionally, you can mount a directory so that your code updates 
# automatically as you work:
docker run -ti -v "$(pwd):/var/www/vertex" -p 80:80 php-app

What about Node.js?

WARNING: Node.js is no longer a supported deployment platform on Vertex. It's mainly there for build-time asset compilation (SCSS and JS).

Node.js projects can be setup without using /opt/ since most Node.js project only require you to launch the server:

docker run -ti -v "$(pwd):/app" \
    -p 3000:3000 node /app/index.js

Example dockerfile:

Assuming that your application runs on port 3000:


# Add the current directory into the image
ADD . /app

# Set the current working directory

# Run install dependencies
RUN npm install

# Expose ports

# Logs volume
VOLUME ["/app/logs"]

# Start servers
CMD ["node /app/index"]


Some additional reading and resources:

Got questions? Found a bug?

Open a ticket here on GitHub, or if you have a fix or improvement, create a Pull Request. Given that this is a Docker-only project there aren't any strict contribution rules around code. Just keep every line under 80 characters, add some descriptive comments, and it should be fine.


A barebones Docker image with essentials for PHP developement and deployment





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