How Do I Run a Web Server From a Docker Container?

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Angela Bailey

Running a web server from a Docker container is an efficient and convenient way to deploy and manage your web applications. Docker provides a platform for isolating your application and its dependencies, making it easier to ship and run on any system. In this tutorial, we will explore the steps involved in running a web server using Docker containers.

What is Docker?
Docker is an open-source platform that allows you to automate the deployment, scaling, and management of applications using containerization. Containers provide a lightweight and isolated environment for running applications, making it easier to package and distribute software.

Step 1: Install Docker
Before we can start running our web server in a Docker container, we need to install Docker on our system. Visit the official Docker website (https://www.docker.com/) and download the appropriate version of Docker for your operating system. Follow the installation instructions provided by Docker for your specific OS.

Step 2: Create a Dockerfile
A Dockerfile is a text file that contains instructions for building a Docker image. In this case, we want to create an image that runs our web server. Create a new file called ‘Dockerfile’ in your project directory and open it with a text editor.

Dockerfile Example:


FROM nginx:latest

COPY . /usr/share/nginx/html

EXPOSE 80

FROM specifies the base image for our container, which in this case is the latest version of Nginx (a popular web server).

COPY copies the contents of our current directory into the ‘/usr/share/nginx/html’ directory inside the container.

EXPOSE exposes port 80 of the container to allow incoming HTTP traffic.

Step 3: Build the Docker Image
With the Dockerfile in place, we can now build our Docker image. Open a terminal or command prompt, navigate to your project directory, and run the following command:


docker build -t my-web-server .

This command tells Docker to build an image with the tag ‘my-web-server’. The ‘.’ at the end specifies that the Dockerfile is located in the current directory.

Step 4: Run the Docker Container
Once the image is built, we can run our web server by creating a container from the image. Run the following command:


docker run -d -p 8080:80 my-web-server

This command starts a new container from our ‘my-web-server’ image in detached mode (-d) and maps port 8080 of our host machine to port 80 of the container (-p 8080:80).

Note: You can choose any available port on your host machine to map to port 80 of the container.

Step 5: Access Your Web Server
With your web server running inside a Docker container, you can now access it through your web browser. Open your browser and enter ‘http://localhost:8080’ in the address bar. You should see your web application running!

Congratulations! You have successfully run a web server from a Docker container.

  • In summary, we installed Docker on our system.
  • We created a Dockerfile specifying instructions for building our custom image.
  • We built our Docker image using the Docker CLI.
  • We ran a container from our custom image and mapped it to a port on our host machine.
  • We accessed our web server through our browser using the mapped port.

Next Steps

Now that you have a basic understanding of running a web server from a Docker container, you can explore further by customizing your Dockerfile, adding additional services, or deploying multiple containers using Docker Compose. Docker provides extensive documentation and resources to help you dive deeper into the world of containerization.

In conclusion, Docker simplifies the process of running web servers by providing an isolated and portable environment. With Docker, you can easily package your application and its dependencies into containers, making deployment and management more efficient. So go ahead and try running your own web server from a Docker container – the possibilities are endless!

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