Using Laravel with Docker and Docker-Compose

In this tutorial we'll learn how we can use Docker and Compose to develop and run Laravel applications locally. Following this tutorial you'll learn:

  • what's Docker and Docker-compose
  • how to install Docker and Docker-compose
  • how to use Docker to install and run Laravel applications

Docker is a container tool that allows developers and organizations to build, run and deploy applications using containers.

Containers are standalone images that allow developers to package applications with their dependencies. They share the system kernel and resources for the system where they are running and they provide isolated environments for applications.

Docker makes use of Dockerfile files to define and describe the parts and dependencies used by an application and also commands to run in order to install the dependences and start the application etc.

Installing Docker

start by installing Docker for your type of operating system by following one of these official guides: - Ubuntu - Windows - MacOS


The official documentation describes docker-compose as

Compose is a tool for defining and running multi-container Docker applications. With Compose, you use a YAML file to configure your application’s services. Then, with a single command, you create and start all the services from your configuration. To learn more about all the features of Compose, see the list of features.

Using docker-compose involves three easy steps:

  1. First, you need to define/describe your app environment with a Dockerfile so you can reproduce it anywhere.

  2. Second, you need to create docker-compose.yml file and define the services required for running your application so you can run them in multi containers.

  3. Finally you just need to run docker-compose up and Compose will start all the services for your application

Creating a Laravel Project

Let's create a Laravel project and then see how we can dockerize it using Docker.

We have different ways to create Laravel projects: Using Composer (PHP package manager), cloning from GitHub and downloading using cURL.

Using Composer

If you have Composer installed on your system then you can simply use the following command to create a Laravel project:

composer create-project --prefer-dist laravel/laravel laravelproject

Using GitHub Repository

Alternatively if you don't want to install Composer in your system, you can also clone Laravel from GitHub using:

git clone laravelproject

Or also using cURL:

curl -L 

Installing the Project Dependencies

Now let's install the project's dependencies. If you have Composer installed, simply run the following command from within your project's root folder:

composer install 

If you don't have Composer installed on your system. You can also use Docker with the official composer image to install dependencies by running the following command from the project's root folder:

docker run --rm -v $(pwd):/app composer/composer install

The --rm switch tells Docker to automatically clean up and remove the container after doing the task and exiting.

This is what the docs says about that:

By default a container’s file system persists even after the container exits. This makes debugging a lot easier (since you can inspect the final state) and you retain all your data by default. But if you are running short-term foreground processes, these container file systems can really pile up. If instead you’d like Docker to automatically clean up the container and remove the file system when the container exits, you can add the --rm flag:

The command: -v $(pwd):/app instructs Docker to mount the current directory on the host system retrieved using $(pwd) to /app in the container . What app? Simply because the composer tool in the container will look for a composer.json file in this folder.

After finishing the installation, either way, you'll find a vendor folder with all dependencies inside your Laravel project.

Creating a Dockerfile

Now, after installing Docker and Docker-compose and creating the laravel project let's create a Dockerfile to define our environmenet. Create a new Dockerfile file in the application directory and start by adding the first command:

FROM php:7

This tells Docker to download and use the php:7 image.

Next add:

RUN apt-get update -y && apt-get install -y libmcrypt-dev openssl
RUN docker-php-ext-install pdo mcrypt mbstring

This run apt-get to install the dependencies and extensions required by Laravel.

If you want to install Composer you can also add this command:

RUN apt-get -y curl
RUN curl -sS | php -- --install-dir=/usr/local/bin --filename=composer

Now, add:

COPY . /app

This tells Docker to set the working directory in the container to /app and copy the files (Laravel project) in our current folder (in our system host) to the /app folder in the container.

If you didn't install the dependencies using the previous methods you can install them using:

RUN composer install

Now, let's run the artisan serve command using the CMD command:

CMD php artisan serve --host= --port=8000

This will serve the Laravel project from the port 8000.

Finally, you need to expose the port 8000 from the container using:


This is the complete Dockerfile:

FROM php:7
RUN apt-get update -y && apt-get install -y libmcrypt-dev openssl
RUN docker-php-ext-install pdo mcrypt mbstring
RUN curl -sS | php -- --install-dir=/usr/local/bin --filename=composer
RUN docker-php-ext-install pdo mcrypt mbstring
COPY . /app
RUN composer install

CMD php artisan serve --host= --port=8000

Building the Docker Image

After creating the Dockerfile, you are ready to create the actual Docker image. From your terminal, navigate to the root folder of your project and run:

docker build -t my-laravel-image .

Using the -t switch we can specify the tag/name of the Docker image. For the dot means the current folder will be used as the context for the image to be built. Remember the COPY command in the Dockerfile? its source folder is this folder so we can copy the files from our project to the container file-system.

Running the Docker Image Using Docker

After building the Docker image (my-laravel-image) you can now run it using:

docker run -p 8000:8000 my-laravel-image

You can now access your application from your browser at http://localhost:8000.

Running the Docker Image Using Docker-compose

Docker-compose is more useful to build multi containers for the same application but it can also used to run a single Docker image. So first, create a docker-compose.yml file in the root folder of your project and add the following content:

    image: my-laravel-image
        - 8000:8000
        - ./:/app

We are defining a volume using ./:/var/www which simply mount our current directory ./ in the host system to /app in the container. This will allow you to work on the source code in your project's folder and changes will be reflected in the container file-system (in our case /app) without executing any other commands.


In this tutorial, we've seen how to use Docker to create a development environment with Laravel. We've seen how to use both Docker and docker-compose to run our Laravel application in an isolated container.

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