D.T on Docker Setup

Docker is a container system that can be used to set up all of the infrastructure needed to run a web site. The below will setup containers locally needed to run a MySQL database and an Apache + PHP web server

All of this will be running on a Linux virtual machine in order to duplicate as close as possible the production hosting environment.


Three Choices

There are currently three sets of instructions for setting up a Disciple Tools server locally using Docker. Choose the one that suites your needs best.

  1. Prepackaged Image

    https://github.com/zdmc23/dt-docker is the easiest of the three to install (similar effort to setting up a LocalWP environment), but it is difficult to update preinstalled plugins.

  2. Video Walk-through

    This YouTube playlist shows how to set up for D.T. Mobile App development on a local machine, which includes setting up the Docker server environment

    The videos do not follow these instructions exactly, but it is better to use them to help understand these instructions, instead of following them by themselves.

  3. Example Template

    https://github.com/cairocoder01/dt-docker which these instructions were originally based on, and provides a downloadable set configuration files, which can be updated.

Setup Docker

Install Docker

For Windows:

  • When you start the Docker Desktop, if necessary it will provide you with additional instructions to update WSL 2 (Windows Subsystem for Linux)

  • If the user account you commonly use does not have admin privileges, you can add it to the docker-users group so you can run docker directly without requiring “runas” (similar to “sudo” in Linux/MacOS)

    From the Computer Management app: open System Tools > Local Users and Groups > Groups, double click the "docker-users" group and from the "Add..." dialog add the desired user account.

Configure SSL

Set up the self-signed SSL certificate. (The instructions are explained here in detail)

Warning: If you will be working on the Mobile app code, it does not currently support Https when connecting to a local server, so this step is not required.

For Windows:

Note: Already updated dev.conf and dockerfile configuration files are available from https://github.com/cairocoder01/dt-docker

  1. From command line in the project root directory (your copy of the Github repository) run:

    > openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 365 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout server.key -out server.crt
  2. Specify the Common Name as 'local.disciple.tools'. You may answer the other questions however you wish.

  3. Site will be available on https://local.disciple.tools (if you add the needed hosts file mapping) or https://localhost:44300

Configure Docker

Configure Docker according to which one of the 3 approaches you choose:

Prepackaged Image

  1. Download the docker-compose.yml file from https://github.com/zdmc23/dt-docker into your working directory (or clone it from GitHub)

  2. Create a .env file and copy/paste the following, and then update the values:


    (DOMAIN value can be an IP address - e.g., or

Video Walk-through

  • As mentioned above, the YouTube playlist works best to help understand these instructions, rather than following it alone.

Example Template

Start Wordpress

Warning: The configuration files were up to date the last time they were edited, but always make sure to double check what the most up to date versions of the software components are, or make certain to install mutually compatible versions.

For example, the dockerfile should have up to date version numbers for Wordpress and PHP.

  1. Run docker-compose up -d from the project root directory (or npm run docker-start).

    1. The first time this is run, it will need to download all of the machine images, so it may take a little while.

    2. There will be some warning messages that can be ignored, unless Docker cannot bring the Wordpress and Mysql containers up.

  2. You should be able to access the site via https://local.disciple.tools (if you add the needed hosts file mapping), https://localhost:44300 or http://localhost:8000

    For Windows: You will need to add a “security exception” in your browser from its warning dialog (depending on browser).

    Warning: When you configure WordPress from “https://localhost:44300” or “http://localhost:8000” you will have to continue to use that address or reconfigure it from the …/wp-admin/options-general.php settings page to switch.

  3. Step through the WordPress installation process.

    • Language:

    • Site Title:

    • Username:

    • Password:

    • Your Email:

    • Press “Install WordPress”

Note: If you cannot access DT’s home page: https://localhost:44300/contacts or other pages try this:

Install Theme

NOTE: If you used the Prepackaged Image this has already been done for you. However, if you need to update the theme you must do it manually from within the container!

Install Plugins

NOTE: If you used the Prepackaged Image some plugins have already been installed for you. However, if you need to update a pre-installed plugin you must do it manually from within the container!

Some production plugins are available for installation from the Extensions tab. For developement, or unlisted plugins:

  1. Download JWT Authentication for WP REST API from: https://wordpress.org/plugins/jwt-authentication-for-wp-rest-api/

    1. Follow directions on plugin page to add auth header config to .htaccess

    2. Follow directions on plugin page to add 2 values to wp-config.php

Enable Debugging

  • Edit wp-config.php to add the following values:

     define( 'WP_DEBUG', true ); // Enable WP_DEBUG mode
     define( 'WP_DEBUG_LOG', true ); // Enable Debug logging to the /wp-content/debug.log file

Docker Multi-site Setup

See https://www.wpbeginner.com/glossary/multisite/

  1. Add the following to wp-config.php

    /* Multisite */
    define('WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true);
  2. Go to Tools -> Network Setup and follow on-screen directions, adding the necessary code to .htaccess and wp-config.php

  3. After changes, login again and return to wp-admin.

  4. A new My Sites item appears in the top menu. Go to My Sites -> Network Admin -> Dashboard

    • Copy disciple-tools-multisite.php into wp-content/plugins/disciple-tools-multisite

  5. Add all of the sites as you desire.

    • For each site you add, add the needed entry to your local hosts file. For example:   site1.local.disciple.tools

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