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I recently wiped my hosting server since I was closing down my computer repair business. It always bothered me that I was only hosting one site on a rather large server and I couldn’t do much with it without risking downtime (not that it really mattered given so little traffic). When I shut it down I had a clean slate.. why not try out hosting with Docker? Not knowing much about it, other than some basic commands, a general idea what it is, and some experience at work, I dove in.

Containment

At work I deploy a whole bunch of microservices each in their own container to a local docker host on our development machines for testing/developing. There’s a whole Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipeline that each Github repo is hooked into that builds a Docker container configured to run the application then unit tests before publishing the Docker container to the private Docker Registry. The CI/CD system is triggered after this to actually deploy it to various environments. If any of these deployments fail, the deploy stops and the team is notified in Slack. Pretty sweet setup since I don’t have to do anything to actually deploy any changes. Just merging a branch to master kicks off an automatic deployment. They are running some sort of cluster that provides fail-over and load balancing… but I don’t quite think I need that… yet.

So, knowing what I already know about Docker I set out to deploy this website as a container! Being a lazy developer, I leveraged existing Docker images on the public Docker Registry. Since I am familiar with WordPress, and there is a Docker image with WordPress already set up I went with that. For storage, WordPress needs a MySQL database which exists on the Docker Register. I use those and we’re all done here, right?

Configurations

Not so fast. We still need to actually set up the MySQL and WordPress containers to talk to each other. By default, each container runs in isolation. Nothing is exposed so nothing can access the container. This is great since we’re not quite ready for internet traffic. So I wrote a Dockerfile that builds the vanilla WordPress container to link the MySQL container on a private network. Now that WordPress and MySQL can talk to each other, we still need to configure MySQL and WordPress on the application level. We’re done with the container so, it’s time to hit the configs!

MySQL setup is rather easy. Log into the MySQL container, create a username and password and you’re done! For WordPress, there’s a lovely little wizard the first time your hit your website that lets you set it up through a convenient user interface. After creating the username and password on MySQL, I hit the site and walk through the WordPress setup wizard. Once I finished with the wizard I’m done setting up the website!

Wrap-up

In another post, I’ll explain the CI/CD portion of how I accomplished making this repeatable. I did end up automating the MySQL setup so it auto-generates a username and password (of my choosing) when the Docker container is created. Additionally, I made this whole process repeatable and connected it to the GitLab CI/CD system to make it automated. My #1 goal was to make this repeatable and automated so if I ever need to do something like upgrade my server or move hosts, I’d be able to regenerate the site in it’s current state with the push of a button (or at least a few simple steps).

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