Nginx reverse proxy, Docker and a Raspberry Pi

If you read my previous post you should know that fourteenislands.io is served by a Nginx web server (Docker) running on a Raspberry Pi. But what started as a sandbox environment to host a few static pages is getting busier everyday and I, among other things, needed to host a couple of RESTful web APIs on that Raspberry Pi (on a different domain name).

Automated Nginx reverse proxy for Docker

I’ll spare you with the details as to why a reverse proxy and how to automatically generate reverse proxy configuration when ‘backend’ Docker containers are started and stopped and suggest you read this interesting post by Jason Wilder.

Jason’s nginx-proxy targets the X86 architecture and cannot be used as is on a Raspberry Pi. You could use rpi-nginx-proxy instead which is the equivalent I published for the ARM architecture.

So, let’s start a proxy.

From a terminal on your RPi open your favorite text editor and save the following as docker-compose.yml

Start the Nginx reverse proxy ‘frontend’ container with the following command

$ docker-compose run -d --service-ports nginx-proxy

You don’t really need Docker Compose here and could run the same ‘frontend’ container with that one-liner:

$ docker run -d -p 80:80 -v /var/run/docker.sock:/tmp/docker.sock:ro lroguet/rpi-nginx-proxy

That was easy, wasn’t it?

Serving a domain (fourteenislands.io for example)

Now that the reverse proxy is up and running we can just start whatever ‘backend’ container we want to serve content for a specific domain (note the VIRTUAL_HOST environment variable in the docker-compose.yml file below).

From a terminal on your RPi open your favorite text editor and save the following as docker-compose.yml

Start the Nginx ‘backend’ container with the following command

$ docker-compose run -d --service-ports web

Using Docker Compose makes more sense here but is obviously not required.

Starting a ‘backend’ container triggers a Docker start event, the reverse proxy configuration is generated and the ‘frontend’ Nginx reloaded.

Received event start for container...

When a ‘backend’ container is stopped or dies, a Docker die/stop event is triggered, the reverse proxy configuration is generated and the ‘frontend’ Nginx reloaded.

Received event die for container...

As always, have fun and if you have any questions, please leave a comment.

Update. fourteenislands.io is not currently served from a Raspberry Pi but from an Amazon S3 bucket.