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docker-compose useful commands

A short list of useful docker-compose commands

In this article we will cover a useful list of docker-compose commands to get started with docker compose.

Starting containers

The most popular command is the docker-compose up command. This command is used to run services defined in the docker compose file. When this command is cancelled, all running containers are stopped. When run without arguments, it creates containers for all services defined in the compose file and uses a file named docker-compose.yml. This is the default file used by docker compose. There are many avalaible options but we will cover only the most used in this article.

The up command Options

1. -f This option is used to specify the docker compose file to use. If your file is named docker-compose.yml, this option is not needed. See a full example below.

docker-compose up -f [file name]
Note: This option can be used multiple times to specify multiple compose file. WHen multiple compose files are used, their configurations are merged. When using multiple files, configuration of a file on the right overrides those of a file defined on it left. For more info see Multiple Compose files.

2. -d By default, docker container output is printed on the current terminal session. Use this option to start containers without displaying output to the current terminal session. Full example

docker-compose up -d

3. Run a specific service: To run a specific service in the docker compose file add the service name after the command. When running a service, containers for all the services it depends on would also be started. Full example

docker-compose up [service name]

Full doc

List running containers

The docker-compose ps command lists all the running containers for the docker compose file in the current directory. Run docker-compose ps -q to only display IDs. See the Full doc for more options.

Print service logs

The logs command displays log output from services defined in the docker compose file. This command is very useful in cases where containers are started in detached mode with docker-compose up -d command.

docker-compose logs --tail=[lines] -f [service name]
Full doc

Stopping and starting containers

Containers can be started and stopped with three commands, stop, start and restart.

1. stop stops containers without removing them. The stopped containers can be restarted with start or restart.

docker-compose stop [options] [SERVICE...]

2. start starts containers or a service.

docker-compose start [SERVICE]

3. restart restarts a stopped container. Note that any docker compose configuration update does not take effect after running the command.

docker-compose stop [options] [SERVICE...]

Pausing and resuming containers

The pause command as it's name describe, pauses container. Note that paused containers still take memory on the running host.

docker-compose pause [SERVICE...]
Paused containers can be resumed with the unpause command.
docker-compose unpause [SERVICE...]

Stopping and removing containers

Using the down stops containers and removes containers, networks, volumes, and images created using up.

docker-compose down

Run a container, execute a command inside it then remove it

docker-compose run --rm SERVICE [COMMAND] [ARGS...]

Note: The --rm option Remove container after run. Ignored in detached mode.

docker-compose run --rm db printenv

In the example above, the service name is "db" and the command to execute is printenv

Full doc

The config command

The config command is used to validate the docker-compose file and view configurations. When the this command is used without arguments, it shows the configuration of the docker compose file(s). Knowing that the YAML language has reusable blocks, and also multiple compose files can be used when starting containers, this command is very useful to check the final configuration used to start containers. Full example

docker-compose config
Let's cover the options

1. --services Print the service names in the docker compose file, one per line.

2. --volumes Print the volume names in the docker compose file, one per line.

3. -q, --quiet Used to validate the configuration, does not print.

Full doc


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