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Open edX Docker

France Université Numérique introduces an alternative Docker approach to install a complete and customized version of Open edX.

The idea is to handcraft a Dockerfile, in order to make the project simpler, more flexible and fully operable by developers.

Quick preview

If you're looking for a quick preview of OpenEdX Docker, you can take a look at our dedicated demo site.

It is connected back-to-back with a demo of Richie, a CMS for Open Education based on Django.

Two users are available for testing:

  • admin:
  • student:

Richie's admin is available at and can be accessed via the following user account: admin/admin.

The demonstration databases are regularly flushed.


This project builds a docker image that is ready for production.

At France Université Numérique, we are deploying Open edX Docker to OpenShift, for many customers and in multiple environments using Arnold:

  • The Open edX settings were polished to unlock powerful configuration management features: sensible defaults, flexible overrides using YAML files and/or environment variables, secure credentials using Ansible Vault and PGP keys,
  • We focused on a best practice installation of edxapp, the core Open edX application. You can build you own image by adding specific Xblocks or Django apps in a Dockerfile inheriting from this one (see for an example).

Docker compose is only used for development purposes so that we can code locally and see our changes immediately:

  • sources and configuration files are mounted from the host,
  • the Docker CMD launches Django's development server instead of gunicorn,
  • ports are opened on the application containers to allow bypassing nginx.

Docker compose also allows us to run a complete project in development, including database services which in production are not run on Docker. See the docker-compose file for details on each service:

  • mysql: the SQL database used to structure and persist the application data,
  • mongodb: the no-SQL database used to store course content,
  • memcached: the cache engine,
  • lms: the Django web application used by learners,
  • cms: the Django web application used by teachers,
  • nginx: the front end web server configured to serve static/media files and proxy other requests to Django.
  • mailcatcher the email backend

Concerning Redis, it is possible to run a single redis instance (the default choice) or to run redis with sentinel to simulate a HA instance. To use Redis sentinel you have to set the REDIS_SERVICE environment variable to redis-sentinel:

$ export REDIS_SERVICE=redis-sentinel

To switch back to the single redis instance, unset this environment variable:



Make sure you have a recent version of Docker and Docker Compose installed on your laptop:

$ docker -v
  Docker version 17.12.0-ce, build c97c6d6

$ docker-compose --version
  docker-compose version 1.17.1, build 6d101fb

⚠️ Docker Compose version 1.19 is not supported because of a bug (see Please downgrade to 1.18 or upgrade to a higher version.

Getting started

First, you need to choose a release/flavor of OpenEdx versions we support. You can list them and get instructions about how to select/activate a target release using the bin/activate script. An example output follows:

$ bin/activate
Select an available release to activate:
[1] master/0/bare (default)
[2] hawthorn/1/bare
[3] hawthorn/1/oee
Your choice: 3

# Copy/paste hawthorn/1/oee environment:
export EDX_RELEASE="hawthorn.1"
export FLAVOR="oee"
export EDX_RELEASE_REF="open-release/hawthorn.1"
export EDX_DEMO_RELEASE_REF="open-release/hawthorn.1"

# Or run the following command:
. ${HOME}/Work/openedx-docker/releases/hawthorn/1/oee/activate

# Check your environment with:
make info

Once your environment is set, start the full project by running:

$ make bootstrap

You should now be able to view the web applications:

See other available commands by running:

$ make --help

Developer guide

If you intend to work on edx-platform or its configuration, you'll need to compile static files in local directories that are mounted as docker volumes in the target container:

$ make dev-assets

Now you can start services development server via:

$ make dev

You should be able to view the web applications:

Hacking with themes

To work on a particular theme, we invite you to use the paver watch_assets command; e.g.:

$ make dev-watch

Troubleshooting: if the command above raises the following error:

OSError: inotify watch limit reached

Then you will need to increase the host's fs.inotify.max_user_watches kernel setting (for reference, see

# /etc/sysctl.conf (debian based)

Available Docker images

The aim of this project is to prepare several flavors of images, the docker files and settings of which are living in their own directory (see releases/)

Release paths on the current repository are of the form:

{release name}/{release number}/{flavor}


  • release name: OpenEdx release name (e.g. hawthorn)
  • release number: OpenEdx release number (e.g. 1)
  • flavor: the release flavor (e.g. bare for standard OpenEdx release and oee for OpenEdx Extended release).

We are pushing to DockerHub only images that are the result of a tag respecting the following pattern:


The release (e.g. hawthorn.1) typically includes the release name (e.g. hawthorn) and the release number (e.g. 1). The flavor is optional.

Here are some valid examples:

  • dogwood.3-1.0.3
  • hawthorn.1-oee-2.0.1


This project also provides an nginx companion image that can be used alongside the edxapp image for faster deployments and better performance.

The classical way to handle and serve static files in a Django application is to collect them (using the collectstatic management command) and post-process them using an appropriate storage back-end that uses cache-busting techniques to avoid old versus new static files collisions (e.g. ManifestStaticFilesStorage).

Depending on the edx-platform release, some files may not benefit from a cache busting md5 hash, leading to unexpected side effects during deployment.

To prevent such behavior, for each new openedx-docker release, we will also release an edxapp-nginx image with the same Docker tag. This image is an OpenShift-ready nginx image with embedded edxapp's static files. You are supposed to use this image to serve your static files, media and reverse proxy to the version-matching edxapp instance.

Alternative projects

If what you're looking for is a quick 1-click installation of the complete Open edX stack, you may take a look at Tutor.


The code in this repository is licensed under the GNU AGPL-3.0 terms unless otherwise noted.

Please see LICENSE for details.