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OpenProject Docker Development

A Dockerfile and docker-compose script that builds a development container of OpenProject alongside a PostgreSQL 9.4.X server.

✓ Employs docker-compose to separate OpenProject and PostgreSQL / Data container.

✓ Database setup as a linked container.

✓ Robust image sources, using offical ruby and postgres images.

✓ Data containers for bundler and Postgres data directories.


On your host machine, you need Docker. See their installation guides for more details.

Mac OS X

With the Linux kernel, Docker can run containers directly on the host. These kernel features aren't natively available on an OS X host machine, thus a virtual machine is used as a proxy to run the docker daemon itself.

A popular choice is boot2docker, which runs a Tiny Core Linux using VirtualBox as the virtualization engine. However, a reported problem for boot2docker is the default file synchronization with VirtualBox shared folders (vboxfs), which is painfully slow and is unsuited for a development environment.

A number of workarounds exist:

  1. Patching the boot2docker VM to add NFS support. This requires manually adding the boot2docker vm to the Mac's NFS export configuration.
  2. Employing a custom boot2docker box with Vagrant, which allows a selection of faster mechanisms (automatic NFS configuration, rsync).
  3. A data container with a synchronization engine (e.g., This looks promising and may be a viable alternative to Vagrant.
  4. A host-side script to automate unison / fswatch synchronization such as Hodor.
  5. A wrapper script to patch boot2docker with a synchronization engine. Two prominent examples are dinghy and docker-osx-dev.

For a while, this repo included the workaround based on Vagrant. But this required some mangling with the paths and introduces Feel free to use a different method on Mac.

Instead I now suggest to use docker-osx-dev, instead. You still need boot2docker

To install the boot2docker virtual machine to run docker. I recommend installing it through homebrew, which allows you to install docker and docker-compose. in one go.

brew install boot2docker docker docker-compose

Then, install docker-osx-dev with the following commands:

curl -o /usr/local/bin/docker-osx-dev
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/docker-osx-dev
docker-osx-dev install


Clone the openproject repository into a subfolder openproject.

git clone -b dev

Then, clone this repo

git clone
cd openproject-docker-dev    

As we use a database container, we can exploit the entries from docker-compose to the hosts file to refer to our database. Copy the following configuration from openproject-docker-dev/config/database.yml to openproject/config/database.yml.

default: &default
  adapter: postgresql
  encoding: unicode
  pool: 5
  host: postgres
  port: 5432
  username: openproject
  password: openproject

  <<: *default
  database: openproject_dev

  <<: *default
  database: openproject_test

On Mac, prepare synchronization with rsync using docker-osx-dev. This will synchronize the host directory with rsync. It will keep running and watching for changes on the host side.

In a new tab, run docker-compose build build the OpenProject web image and its dependencies. It bases on the official ruby-2.1.6 image. Initial installation thus might take a while.

Once the build step is completed, the following steps will install the required gems and frontend packages with bundler using the data container:

docker-compose run web bundle install
docker-compose run web npm install

Bundler will install gems to a special location /bundler, which is backed by a persistent data container.

Finally, setup the PostgreSQL database with the following commands.

docker-compose run web bundle exec rake db:create
docker-compose run web bundle exec rake db:migrate
docker-compose run web bundle exec rake db:seed


To start the OpenProject web container with foreman and its linked database, simply execute

docker-compose up

You can also spawn a shell on the container and start foreman manually:

docker-compose run --service-ports web bash

The --service-ports flag will ensure that exposed ports from the Dockerfile will be available to the host.

On Mac, docker-osx-dev writes a host entry for dockerhost, so you can the visit the following URL in a browser to get started:


On Linux, the port is forwarded to the host directly, so exposed ports are available on localhost.

Update OpenProject code

To upgrade your OpenProject installation, simply pull on the host machine and let docker-osx-dev sync the files if you're on Mac.

On the container, you may need to update gems, node modules or database migrations, as you would on the host itself. Re-run the above commands when necessary.

Data persistence

The gems installed by the web container by bundler as well as the PostgreSQL data is stored in the data container, but not (directly) persisted anywhere on the host itself.

The application data itself is mounted using volumes in docker-compose. For Mac, note that these mounts also refer to the filesystem on the boot2docker/vagrant-boot2docker VM. Any data from the parent directory of the openproject-docker-dev directory on the host is shared to /app/.

On Linux, the volumes are directly shared from the parent directory to /app/.


If you use or develop plugins, just add a Gemfile.plugins to your openproject root. For local development, use the :path directive of bundler:

gem "openproject-revisions_git", :path => '../plugins/openproject-revisions_git'

If the plugin code resides anywhere below the parent of openproject-docker-dev, it is available at /app/openproject, and thus is accessible with a relative path.


Copyright (c) 2015 Oliver Günther (

OpenProject is a project management system. Copyright (C) 2013 the OpenProject Foundation (OPF)

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 3.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA.


Docker development container for OpenProject on Mac and Linux.




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