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Docker images to run QGIS models
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Docker container for QGIS models

This project contains Docker containers to run QGIS models based on a model file and a minimal Python script from the command line. The Python script contains the actual model call, including all the required input data files (which a generic script cannot guess).

There are two ways to use the image. First, run it and mount the required workspacea. Second, create a new Dockerfile to build an image that embeds the data.

There are two image configurations in this repository: The first one is based on Ubuntu with a variant based on the UbuntuGIS repository. It was originally based on Todd Stavish's work. Thanks, Todd! The second is based on the QGIS Desktop container by Kartoza (Thanks!).

NB: All commands in this document are executed from within the repository's root directory unless otherwise noted.

Example workflow: NDVI

A small example workflow is contained in this repository at workflows/example. It calculates an NDVI for a Sentinel satellite image of the city center of Münster, Germany.

With Docker Hub image

There also is an automated build on Docker Hub, which you can use to execute the example and then extract the result with the docker cp command:

docker run --name qgis_example nuest/docker-qgis-model:example
docker cp qgis_example:/workspace/results example_results
docker rm qgis_example

The following gif shows an execution of the example container.

console gif of example execution

With local image

Alternatively, you can build the base images as described below in the section "Build the container" and then build the example container locally.

In the directory workspace/example, run the following commands to build the image including the example data, run the container to execute the analysis, and then extract the output files to a local directory relative to the current path. The last command removes the image from local storage.

docker build -t qgis-model-example .
docker run --name qgis_example qgis-model-example

docker cp qgis_example:/workspace/results example_results
tree example-results
docker rm qgis_example

Take a look at the console - it contains several useful log statements. The directory ./example_results contains the resulting GeoTIFF (result.tif) and a JPG preview file (result.jpg).

With external data

A working example for calculating an NDVI based on a GeoTIFF is in the directory /example. To run it, first build the Ubuntu container and then run it with the following commands (executed from the root of this project):

docker build -t docker-qgis-model:trusty -f ubuntu/trusty/Dockerfile ubuntu/.
docker run --rm -it -v $(pwd)/example/:/workspace qgis-model-ubuntu:trusty

Or using the image from Docker Hub:

docker run --name qgis_example_hub -v <path to>/workspace/example/:/workspace nuest/docker-qgis-model:trusty

With OSGeo-Live or local Linux OS

The OSGeo-Live DVD or VM, also have all software you need to execute the workflow. If you use QGIS under Linux, this might even work on your own desktop computer.

If you want to give the example a try with OSGeo-Live, download and start it and run the following commands in a terminal. The steps are: clone the repository, copy the model file to the required location, and run the model:

git clone
cd docker-qgis-model/workspace/example
cp models/compute_NDVI.model ~/.qgis2/processing/models/docker.model

Take a look at the data in the directory /tmp/results/<current datetime> (the full path is contained in the logs shown in the console).

To make this work, the file uses default values for some of the environment variables that are originally defined in the Dockerfile.

Preparations to package a workflow

Prepare a directory with the following contents. In the remainder of these instructions, we will assume it is called data.

  • /models/*.model - your QGIS workflow model (one only, or configure name via environment variable QGIS_MODELFILE)
    • when the container is executed, this file is copied into the model directory of the root user under the name model.docker so that it must be referenced in the python file as "modeler:docker"
  • - a minimal Python file with the run command referencing the required data files, see template below. Depending on your model, the actual call to processing.runalg(...) will look very different. For example, it might container several inputs and/or outputs.
  • all data files
  • any additional user scripts in scrips/*.py

Python file template:


# Run preparation file
import sys
import prepare

# Import and initialize Processing framework
from processing.core.Processing import Processing
import processing

# Run model

print "Start processing..."
print "Processing complete"

Run the model with a mounted workspace

Build the container (see below) and start it with the following command, mounting your workspace directory to /workspace and replacing <platform> with either debian or ubuntu. In the latter case we recommend to explicitly select the Ubuntu version and thereby the QGIS version by appending either the tag :trusty or :xenial. If you want to publish your whole model in a self-contained image, see next section.

docker run --rm -it -v /<path to workspace dir>:/workspace qgis-model-<platform>


If you want to run the model manually (i.e. to debug etc.) append /bin/bash to the command to override the default command, then execute ./qgis/ manually.

The used options are as follows:

  • --rm will remove the container as soon as it ends
  • -it ensures you can see the stdout logs
  • The startup script will copy all files named *.model from the mounted directory

Potentially useful additional options are as these:

  • --name="qgis" to name the running container for easier identification
  • To execute a specific model, you can overwrite the environment variable QGIS_MODELFILE which has the default value /workspace/models/*.model. This is useful if you have a working directory with more than one model file. Specify the environment variable when you run the container: docker run --rm -it -v /<path to workspace dir>:/workspace -e QGIS_MODELFILE=/workspace/models/mymodel.model qgis-model-<platform>
  • If you want to run the model manually (i.e. to debug etc.) add the parameter --entrypoint=/bin/bash to the command (before the image name) to override the default entrypoint and get a bash shell, then execute ./qgis/ manually.

Access log while running

After the model has started you can access the current state of the containers log file with the command docker exec:

docker ps
# note the name of the container running the command /qgis/
docker exec <container name> cat /qgis/qgis.log

Alternatively to cat, you can use less or any other tools available in the container.

Create a self-contained image

The previous run command mounts a directory of the host computer to the container, which is suitable for model development. If you want to publish a self-contained Docker image, you can create a minimal Dockerfile based on the images created above, which simply copies your data into the container, then build and execute that image.

Be aware that you to access the output of the process you must not use --rm but keep the container to extract the data and delete it afterwards. See above in section "Example with embedded data" for the required commands.

Build the container


See directory /ubuntu/Dockerfile.<release name> for the respective Dockerfile.

Execute the following command in the root directory / of this repository to build the container and name it.

docker build -t qgis-model:<release name> -f ubuntu/Dockerfile.<release name> ./ubuntu

The build context is set to ./ubuntu so that the required model file can be copied. The Dockerfile name is configured explicitly with the -f option.

The following command builds the image for Ubuntu 16.04 and tags it as being the "latest".

docker build -t qgis-model:xenial -t qgis-model:latest -f Dockerfile.xenial ./ubuntu


See directory /kartoza for the Dockerfile, which uses kartoza/qgis-desktop by Tim Sutton, using the tag 2.8 as the base image. Find the Dockerfiles on GitHub: The Kartoza images are based on Ubuntu 16.04. The following commands build the image with a tag and then run a container on that tag with the example workspace.

docker build -t qgis-model-kartoza kartoza/.

docker run --rm -it -v $(pwd)/workspace/example/:/workspace qgis-model-kartoza

You can also run an interactive version of this container (with QGIS user interface) by adding the following parameters to the docker run call, for details see the base images script.

xhost +local:docker
docker run -it --rm -v /<path to user home>:/home/<user name> -v /tmp/.X11-unix:/tmp/.X11-unix -e DISPLAY=unix$DISPLAY qgis-model-kartoza /
xhost -local:docker


This project is published under the Apache License, Version 2.0.

Copyright 2016 Daniel Nüst.

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