A Jupyter Workbench that includes Python, R and dynamic dashboard capabilities.
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Interactive Insights Workbench

The Interactive Insights Workbench is a software stack that is based on the Jupyter Notebook server. It provides Jupyter Notebook 4.x with support for the following notebook environments:

  • Python 2.7.x and Python 3.x, including libraries that are commonly used for data analysis, e.g., pandas, matplotlib, etc.
  • R 3.2.x
  • Apache Toree (Scala 2.10.4)

The workbench also bundles several Jupyter Notebook extensions that provide the ability to convert notebooks into interactive dashboards. These extensions include:

Finally, this repo includes scripts that leverage Docker to make it is easy to build and deploy the workbench for individual users.


To build and run the workbench image using the scripts provided, you will need to install the following Docker technologies in your environment.

If you plan to run the workbench on your local Mac OS X or Windows workstation, you will also need:

See the installation instructions.

Quickstart - Mac OS X, Windows

To run the workbench on your local Mac OS X or Windows workstation, you will need to do the following:

  • Clone this repository to your workstation
  • Create a new VirtualBox virtual machine on your workstation
  • Build the workbench Docker image on the VM
  • Run the workbench Docker image as a Docker container on the VM
# clone this repo
git clone https://github.com/zos-spark/interactive-insights-workbench.git
cd interactive-insights-workbench

# create a Docker Machine-controlled VirtualBox VM on local desktop
bin/vbox.sh mymachine

# activate the docker machine
eval "$(docker-machine env mymachine)"

# build the notebook image on the machine

# bring up the notebook container

Retrieve the IP address of the virtual machine.

docker-machine ip mymachine

Use your web browser to access your workbench at


Quickstart - Linux

To run the workbench on a Linux host, follow the steps below.

  • Clone this repository to your host
  • Build the workbench Docker image on the host
  • Run the workbench Docker image as a Docker container on the host
# clone this repo
git clone https://github.com/zos-spark/interactive-insights-workbench.git
cd interactive-insights-workbench

# build the notebook image on the machine

# bring up the notebook container

Use your web browser to access your workbench at


Sample Database

This repository includes sample data in a CSV file. This section describes how to run a MongoDB Docker container and load the sample data.

Windows and Mac OS X users, activate the Docker Machine where you would like to run the MongoDB container.

# activate desired docker machine
eval "$(docker-machine env mymachine)"

Run the container.

docker-compose -f mongodb/docker-compose.yml up -d

Once the MongoDB container is running, use the load-mongodb.sh script to create a demo database and load each of the sample CSV files in the data directory as collections in the database:


To bring down the MongoDB container:

docker-compose -f mongodb/docker-compose.yml down


Can I deploy to any host?

You can build and run the Docker images in this repo on any host that supports a recent version of Docker Engine.

This repo assumes that you are using Docker Machine to provision and manage multiple remote Docker hosts.

To make it easier to get up and running, this repo includes scripts that use Docker Machine to provision new virtual machines on both VirtualBox and IBM SoftLayer.

To create a Docker Machine on a new VirtualBox VM on your local desktop:

bin/vbox.sh mymachine

To create a Docker Machine on a new virtual device on IBM SoftLayer:

# Set SoftLayer credential as environment variables to be
# passed to Docker Machine
export SOFTLAYER_USER=my_softlayer_username
export SOFTLAYER_API_KEY=my_softlayer_api_key
export SOFTLAYER_DOMAIN=my.domain

# Create virtual device
bin/softlayer.sh myhost

# Add DNS entry (SoftLayer DNS zone must exist for SOFTLAYER_DOMAIN)
bin/sl-dns.sh myhost

In addition, you can use the scripts in this repo to build and run the workbench image on any other Docker Machine-controlled host.

How do I deploy to an existing host?

To build and run the Docker images in this repo on an existing host, you simply need to add the host as a Docker machine. All you need is the server's IP address, and the ability to login to the server using an SSH keypair.

Here's an example of creating a Docker Machine on your local desktop that points to the remote server at using Docker Machine's generic driver.

Be aware: this command will attempt to install Docker Engine on the host if it is not already present.

docker-machine create --driver generic \
  --generic-ip-address \
  --generic-ssh-key /path/to/my/ssh/private/key \

You should see output similar to this:

Running pre-create checks...
Creating machine...
(mymachine) Importing SSH key...
Waiting for machine to be running, this may take a few minutes...
Detecting operating system of created instance...
Waiting for SSH to be available...
Detecting the provisioner...
Provisioning with ubuntu(upstart)...
Installing Docker...
Copying certs to the local machine directory...
Copying certs to the remote machine...
Setting Docker configuration on the remote daemon...
Checking connection to Docker...
Docker is up and running!
To see how to connect your Docker Client to the Docker Engine running on this
  virtual machine, run: docker-machine env mymachine

To view the machine details:

docker-machine ls

NAME               ACTIVE   DRIVER       STATE     URL                         SWARM   DOCKER    ERRORS
softlayer          -        generic      Running   tcp://               v1.10.1    

To run Docker commands on mymachine, activate it by running:

eval "$(docker-machine env mymachine)"

Can I run multiple notebook containers on the same host?

Yes. Set environment variables to specify unique names and ports when running the up.sh command.

NAME=my-notebook PORT=9000 notebook/up.sh
NAME=your-notebook PORT=9001 notebook/up.sh

To stop and remove the containers:

NAME=my-notebook notebook/down.sh
NAME=your-notebook notebook/down.sh

Where are my notebooks stored?

The up.sh creates a Docker volume named after the notebook container with a -work suffix, e.g., my-notebook-work. Any files in the Jupyter notebook directory are stored in this volume and will persist across container restarts.

Can multiple notebook containers share the same notebook volume?

Yes. Set the WORK_VOLUME environment variable to the same value for each notebook.

NAME=my-notebook PORT=9000 WORK_VOLUME=our-work notebook/up.sh
NAME=your-notebook PORT=9001 WORK_VOLUME=our-work notebook/up.sh

How do I run over HTTPS?

To run the notebook server with a self-signed certificate, pass the --secure option to the up.sh script. You must also provide a password, which will be used to secure the notebook server. You can specify the password by setting the PASSWORD environment variable, or by passing it to the up.sh script.

PASSWORD=a_secret notebook/up.sh --secure

# or
notebook/up.sh --secure --password a_secret

Can I use Let's Encrypt certificate chains?

Sure. If you want to secure access to publicly addressable notebook containers, you can generate a free certificate using the Let's Encrypt service.

This example includes the bin/letsencrypt.sh script, which runs the letsencrypt client to create a full-chain certificate and private key, and stores them in a Docker volume. Note: The script hard codes several letsencrypt options, one of which automatically agrees to the Let's Encrypt Terms of Service.

The following command will create a certificate chain and store it in a Docker volume named mydomain-secrets.

FQDN=host.mydomain.com EMAIL=myemail@somewhere.com \
  SECRETS_VOLUME=mydomain-secrets \

Now run up.sh with the --letsencrypt option. You must also provide the name of the secrets volume and a password.

PASSWORD=a_secret SECRETS_VOLUME=mydomain-secrets notebook/up.sh --letsencrypt

# or
notebook/up.sh --letsencrypt --password a_secret --secrets mydomain-secrets

Be aware that Let's Encrypt has a pretty low rate limit per domain at the moment. You can avoid exhausting your limit by testing against the Let's Encrypt staging servers. To hit their staging servers, set the environment variable CERT_SERVER=--staging.

FQDN=host.mydomain.com EMAIL=myemail@somewhere.com \
  CERT_SERVER=--staging \

Also, be aware that Let's Encrypt certificates are short lived (90 days). If you need them for a longer period of time, you'll need to manually setup a cron job to run the renewal steps. (You can reuse the command above.)

Can I customize the workbench image?

Yes. You can customize the workbench image by modifying the notebook/Dockerfile. For example, you can install the python-twitter Python libraries by adding the following lines to the bottom of the Dockerfile:

RUN pip install python-twitter

Once you modify the Dockerfile, you need to rebuild the image and restart the notebook container before the changes will take effect.

# activate the docker machine
eval "$(docker-machine env mymachine)"

# rebuild the notebook image

# restart the notebook container


I'm unable to connect to VirtualBox VM on Mac OS X when using Cisco VPN client.

The Cisco VPN client blocks access to IP addresses that it does not know about, and may block access to a new VM if it is created while the Cisco VPN client is running.

  1. Stop Cisco VPN client. (It does not allow modifications to route table).
  2. Run ifconfig to list vboxnet virtual network devices.
  3. Run sudo route -nv add -net 192.168.99 -interface vboxnetX, where X is the number of the virtual device assigned to the VirtualBox VM.
  4. Start Cisco VPN client.

I'm unable to connect to my remote host using Docker Machine.

Docker Machine uses signed TLS certificates to connect to remote hosts ("machines"). Docker Machine will fail to connect to a remote machine if there is a problem during the TLS handshake. For example:

eval "$(docker-machine env mymachine)"

Error checking TLS connection: Error checking and/or regenerating the certs: There was an error validating certificates for host "<mymachine_ip_address>:2376": x509: certificate signed by unknown authority
You can attempt to regenerate them using 'docker-machine regenerate-certs [name]'.
Be advised that this will trigger a Docker daemon restart which will stop running containers.

There may be several causes for this error, such as:

  1. The SSH keys on your local or remote host have changed. Ensure that you can login to the remote host using the SSH key.
  2. Multiple people have connected to the same remote host using Docker Machine. Docker Machine creates certificates in the ~/.docker/machine/certs directory on the local host, and uses these certificates during the TLS handshake process. This means that you cannot use Docker Machine to connect to a remote host from multiple clients unless you copy the certs to each client. See this enhancement request for details.