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This folder contains a Makefile and a set of supporting files demonstrating how to run a docker-stack notebook container on a docker-machine controlled host.


  • make 3.81+
  • docker-machine 0.5.0+
  • docker 1.9.0+


To show what's possible, here's how to run the jupyter/minimal-notebook on a brand new local virtualbox.

# create a new VM
make virtualbox-vm NAME=dev
# make the new VM the active docker machine
eval $(docker-machine env dev)
# pull a docker stack and build a local image from it
make image
# start a notebook server in a container
make notebook

The last command will log the IP address and port to visit in your browser.


Can I run multiple notebook containers on the same VM?

Yes. Specify a unique name and port on the make notebook command.

make notebook NAME=my-notebook PORT=9000
make notebook NAME=your-notebook PORT=9001

Can multiple notebook containers share their notebook directory?


make notebook NAME=my-notebook PORT=9000 WORK_VOLUME=our-work
make notebook NAME=your-notebook PORT=9001 WORK_VOLUME=our-work

How do I run over HTTPS?

Instead of make notebook, run make self-signed-notebook PASSWORD=your_desired_password. This target gives you a notebook with a self-signed certificate.

That self-signed certificate is a pain. Let's Encrypt?

Yes. Please.

make letsencrypt
make letsencrypt-notebook

The first command creates a Docker volume named after the notebook container with a -secrets suffix. It then runs the letsencrypt client with a slew of options (one of which has you automatically agreeing to the Let's Encrypt Terms of Service, see the Makefile). The second command mounts the secrets volume and configures Jupyter to use the full-chain certificate and private key.

Be aware: Let's Encrypt has a pretty low rate limit per domain at the moment. You can avoid exhausting your limit by testing against the Let's Encrypt staging servers. To hit their staging servers, set the environment variable CERT_SERVER=--staging.

make letsencrypt CERT_SERVER=--staging

Also, keep in mind Let's Encrypt certificates are short lived: 90 days at the moment. You'll need to manually setup a cron job to run the renewal steps at the moment. (You can reuse the first command above.)

My pip/conda/apt-get installs disappear every time I restart the container. Can I make them permanent?

# add your pip, conda, apt-get, etc. permanent features to the Dockerfile where
# indicated by the comments in the Dockerfile
vi Dockerfile
make image
make notebook

How do I upgrade my Docker container?

make image DOCKER_ARGS=--pull
make notebook

The first line pulls the latest version of the Docker image used in the local Dockerfile. Then it rebuilds the local Docker image containing any customizations you may have added to it. The second line kills your currently running notebook container, and starts a fresh one using the new image.

Can I run on another VM provider other than VirtualBox?

Yes. As an example, there's a softlayer.makefile included in this repo as an example. You would use it like so:

make softlayer-vm NAME=myhost \
    SOFTLAYER_DOMAIN=your_desired_domain \
    SOFTLAYER_USER=your_user_id \
eval $(docker-machine env myhost)
# optional, creates a real DNS entry for the VM using the machine name as the hostname
make softlayer-dns SOFTLAYER_DOMAIN=your_desired_domain
make image
make notebook

If you'd like to add support for another docker-machine driver, use the softlayer.makefile as a template.

Where are my notebooks stored?

make notebook creates a Docker volume named after the notebook container with a -data suffix.

Uh ... make?

Yes, sorry Windows users. It got the job done for a simple example. We can certainly accept other deployment mechanism examples in the parent folder or in other repos.

Are there any other options?

Yes indeed. cat the Makefiles and look at the target parameters.

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