An Nginx container for container-native deployment and automatic backend discovery
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Autopilot Pattern Nginx

A re-usable Nginx base image implemented according to the Autopilot Pattern for automatic discovery and configuration.

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A reusable Nginx container image

The goal of this project is to create an Nginx image that can be reused across environments without having to rebuild the entire image. Configuration of Nginx is entirely via ContainerPilot job and watch handlers, which update the Nginx configuration on disk via consul-template.

Running in your own project

Consult for example usage, or see the examples in the examples directory for deploying to Joyent's Triton Cloud or via Docker Compose.

Configuring Let's Encrypt (ACME)

Setting the ACME_DOMAIN environment variable will enable Let's Encrypt within the image. The image will automatically acquire certificates for the given domain, and renew them over time. If you scale to multiple instances of Nginx, they will elect a leader who will be responsible for renewing the certificates. Any challenge response tokens as well as acquired certificates will be replicated to all Nginx instances.

By default, this process will use the Let's Encrypt staging endpoint, so as not to impact your API limits. When ready for production, you must also set the ACME_ENV environment variable to production.

You must ensure the domain resolves to your Nginx containers so that they can respond to the ACME http challenges. Triton users may refer to this document for more information on how to ensure your domain resolves to your Triton containers.

An example of a Docker Compose manifest with Let's Encrypt enabled:

    image: autopilotpattern/nginx
    mem_limit: 512m
    restart: always
      - CONSUL_AGENT=1
      - ACME_ENV=staging
      - 80
      - 443
      - 9090
    network_mode: bridge


The examples/ directory includes a manifest for deploying via Docker Compose to a local Docker environment and a manifest for deploying to Joyent's Triton Cloud. The examples/backend directory is a simple Node.js application that acts as a demonstration for registering backends and updating the Nginx configuration via watching Consul. You can build the example applications with make build/examples.

When deploying to Triton the manifest expects that the TRITON_CNS_SEARCH_DOMAIN_PRIVATE environment variable is set in order to bootstrap service discovery with Triton CNS. If you're using the triton-docker-cli wrapper, this will set automatically.


The tests/ directory includes integration tests for both the Triton and Compose example stacks described above. Build the test runner by making sure you've pulled down the submodule with git submodule update --init and then make build/tester.

Running make test/triton will run the tests in a container locally but targeting Triton Cloud. To run those tests you'll need a Triton Cloud account with your Triton command line profile set up. The test rig will use the value of the TRITON_PROFILE environment variable to determine what data center to target. The tests use your own credentials mounted from your Docker host (your laptop, for example), so if you have a passphrase on your ssh key you'll need to add -it to the arguments of the test/triton Make target.