docker compose

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Docker Compose


$ docker compose COMMAND

Refer to the options section for an overview of available OPTIONS for this command.


You can use compose subcommand, docker compose [-f <arg>...] [options] [COMMAND] [ARGS...], to build and manage multiple services in Docker containers.

Use -f to specify name and path of one or more Compose files

Use the -f flag to specify the location of a Compose configuration file.

Specifying multiple Compose files

You can supply multiple -f configuration files. When you supply multiple files, Compose combines them into a single configuration. Compose builds the configuration in the order you supply the files. Subsequent files override and add to their predecessors.

For example, consider this command line:

$ docker compose -f docker-compose.yml -f docker-compose.admin.yml run backup_db

The docker-compose.yml file might specify a webapp service.

    image: examples/web
      - "8000:8000"
      - "/data"

If the docker-compose.admin.yml also specifies this same service, any matching fields override the previous file. New values, add to the webapp service configuration.

    build: .
      - DEBUG=1

When you use multiple Compose files, all paths in the files are relative to the first configuration file specified with -f. You can use the --project-directory option to override this base path.

Use a -f with - (dash) as the filename to read the configuration from stdin. When stdin is used all paths in the configuration are relative to the current working directory.

The -f flag is optional. If you don’t provide this flag on the command line, Compose traverses the working directory and its parent directories looking for a compose.yaml or docker-compose.yaml file.

Specifying a path to a single Compose file

You can use the -f flag to specify a path to a Compose file that is not located in the current directory, either from the command line or by setting up a COMPOSE_FILE environment variable in your shell or in an environment file.

For an example of using the -f option at the command line, suppose you are running the Compose Rails sample, and have a compose.yaml file in a directory called sandbox/rails. You can use a command like docker compose pull to get the postgres image for the db service from anywhere by using the -f flag as follows:

$ docker compose -f ~/sandbox/rails/compose.yaml pull db

Use -p to specify a project name

Each configuration has a project name. If you supply a -p flag, you can specify a project name. If you don’t specify the flag, Compose uses the current directory name. Project name can also be set by COMPOSE_PROJECT_NAME environment variable.

Most compose subcommand can be ran without a compose file, just passing project name to retrieve the relevant resources.

$ docker compose -p my_project ps -a
NAME                 SERVICE    STATUS     PORTS
my_project_demo_1    demo       running

$ docker compose -p my_project logs
demo_1  | PING localhost ( 56 data bytes
demo_1  | 64 bytes from seq=0 ttl=64 time=0.095 ms

Use profiles to enable optional services

Use --profile to specify one or more active profiles Calling docker compose --profile frontend up will start the services with the profile frontend and services without any specified profiles. You can also enable multiple profiles, e.g. with docker compose --profile frontend --profile debug up the profiles frontend and debug will be enabled.

Profiles can also be set by COMPOSE_PROFILES environment variable.

Set up environment variables

You can set environment variables for various docker compose options, including the -f, -p and --profiles flags.

Setting the COMPOSE_FILE environment variable is equivalent to passing the -f flag, COMPOSE_PROJECT_NAME environment variable does the same for to the -p flag, and so does COMPOSE_PROFILES environment variable for to the --profiles flag.

If flags are explicitly set on command line, associated environment variable is ignored

Setting the COMPOSE_IGNORE_ORPHANS environment variable to true will stop docker compose from detecting orphaned containers for the project.


Name, shorthand Default Description
--ansi auto Control when to print ANSI control characters ("never"|"always"|"auto")
--compatibility Run compose in backward compatibility mode
--env-file Specify an alternate environment file.
--file , -f Compose configuration files
--no-ansi Do not print ANSI control characters (DEPRECATED)
--profile Specify a profile to enable
--project-directory Specify an alternate working directory (default: the path of the, first specified, Compose file)
--project-name , -p Project name
--verbose Show more output
--version , -v Show the Docker Compose version information
--workdir DEPRECATED! USE --project-directory INSTEAD. Specify an alternate working directory (default: the path of the, first specified, Compose file)

Child commands

Command Description
docker compose build Build or rebuild services
docker compose convert Converts the compose file to platform’s canonical format
docker compose cp Copy files/folders between a service container and the local filesystem
docker compose create Creates containers for a service.
docker compose down Stop and remove containers, networks
docker compose events Receive real time events from containers.
docker compose exec Execute a command in a running container.
docker compose images List images used by the created containers
docker compose kill Force stop service containers.
docker compose logs View output from containers
docker compose ls List running compose projects
docker compose pause Pause services
docker compose port Print the public port for a port binding.
docker compose ps List containers
docker compose pull Pull service images
docker compose push Push service images
docker compose restart Restart containers
docker compose rm Removes stopped service containers
docker compose run Run a one-off command on a service.
docker compose start Start services
docker compose stop Stop services
docker compose top Display the running processes
docker compose unpause Unpause services
docker compose up Create and start containers
docker compose version Show the Docker Compose version information