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Toolset as Code (with docker-compose)


This is a concept created by @gomex in a conversation about running GUI applications with Docker at a meetup (actually i don't know if this is original, but i couldn't find it in my searches... if it isn't, let us know so we can give the proper credits).

It's basically a Docker Compose file with the complete toolset that will be used by the team, so it's easier to maintain (fix, update, etc) and to fresh install them when a newcomer joins the team (it will be already set up).

The concept

The toolset of a team should be defined in a programmable way, so it can be easily reproduced and ease the work of installing, updating, changing configuration, etc.

Wait, isn't that "Infrastructure as Code"?

This concept is pretty similar to Infrastructure as Code (actually we can pretty much say it is an extension of IaC), the difference is that what we define with code isn't actually "infrastructure", but the tools that the team will use (i can't think about a text editor or something like that as infrastructure).

Aren't the tools (and by consequence the toolset) already "code"?

Oh, sure :)
But what isn't is the configuration of said tools, or the definition of them together as a stack.

An approach with Docker

Let's suppose you work at Foobar Inc and have a problem to solve: When a newcomer arrive (or when a new config is need to be set or even change the version of a tool) the team loses too many time setting up (installing, configuring, etc) the toolset (text editor, db managing tool, etc - you got the idea) required to real work start.

And your team already uses Docker as environment building tool. (or you have experience with Docker already)

How about run the toolset with Docker too? You can set a Docker Compose file with the needed tools as images (with their setting already done), and the team members will (theorically) only need Docker, and Docker Compose will "do the trick" for you ;). Need to update/fix something? Just rebuild the image (or make a new tag) and they will only need to run a docker-compose pull. Need to add a tool to the stack? update the Docker Compose file and the team just need to get the updated file and the tool will be in their stack.

You can even version control this, and the Docker Compose file can be used even as documentation of your team toolset!

Couldn't i do that with (some automation tool here)?

Sure! We are just showing a "Docker approach" :) (besides, you can use the automation tool to automate this too ;)).

Does it work at Windows/Mac OS X?

Theorically with some hacking, yes (well, if you think about it, even with linux we do a little hacking).

brew install socat
brew cask install xquartz
open -a XQuartz

socat TCP-LISTEN:6000,reuseaddr,fork UNIX-CLIENT:\"$DISPLAY\"
DISPLAY=hostip:0 docker-compose up [-d]
  1. Install xming
  2. Install Docker for Windows
xming :0 -ac -clipboard -multiwindow
DISPLAY=hostip:0 docker-compose up [-d]

P.S.: I haven't tested it yet, a friend did a quick test at Mac OS X and said it worked just fine.

Is there any downside doing that?

Well, as far as i know sound won't work, and you have to remember that docker will run in a VM at this OSes (but in my tests it affects only games and stuff that uses hardware a lot).

Suggestions, feedback and complaints

Feel free to send PRs, submit Issues, etc :)


Just a sample "workbench" maintained with docker-compose that shows how to create a development setup that runs entirely on Docker






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