How To Install Docker Compose on Debian 10

Published on January 30, 2020
How To Install Docker Compose on Debian 10
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Debian 10


Docker is a great tool for automating the deployment of Linux applications inside software containers, but to take full advantage of its potential each component of an application should run in its own individual container. For complex applications with a lot of components, orchestrating all the containers to start up, communicate, and shut down together can quickly become unwieldy.

The Docker community came up with a popular solution called Fig, which allowed you to use a single YAML file to orchestrate all of your Docker containers and configurations. This became so popular that the Docker team decided to make Docker Compose based on the Fig source, which is now deprecated. Docker Compose lets users orchestrate the processes of Docker containers, including starting up, shutting down, and setting up intra-container linking and volumes.

In this tutorial, you’ll install the latest version of Docker Compose to help you manage multi-container applications on a Debian 10 server.


To follow this article, you will need:

Note: Even though the Prerequisites give instructions for installing Docker on Debian 10, the docker commands in this article should work on other operating systems as long as Docker is installed.

Step 1 — Installing Docker Compose

Although you can install Docker Compose from the official Debian repositories, it is several minor versions behind the latest release, so in this tutorial you’ll install it from Docker’s GitHub repository. The command that follows is slightly different than the one you’ll find on the Releases page. By using the -o flag to specify the output file first rather than redirecting the output, this syntax avoids running into a “permission denied” error caused when using sudo.

Check the current release and, if necessary, update it in the command that follows:

  1. sudo curl -L https://github.com/docker/compose/releases/download/1.25.3/docker-compose-`uname -s`-`uname -m` -o /usr/local/bin/docker-compose

Next we’ll set the permissions:

  1. sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/docker-compose

Then we’ll verify that the installation was successful by checking the version:

  1. docker-compose --version

This will print out the version we installed:

docker-compose version 1.25.3, build d4d1b42b

Now that we have Docker Compose installed, we’re ready to run a “Hello World” example.

Step 2 — Running a Container with Docker Compose

The public Docker registry, Docker Hub, includes a Hello World image for demonstration and testing. It illustrates the minimal configuration required to run a container using Docker Compose: a YAML file that calls a single image. We’ll create this minimal configuration to run our hello-world container.

First, create a directory for the YAML file and switch to it:

  1. mkdir hello-world
  2. cd hello-world

Then create the YAML file:

  1. nano docker-compose.yml

Put the following contents into the file, save the file, and exit the text editor:

 image: hello-world

The first line in the YAML file is used as part of the container name. The second line specifies which image to use to create the container. When we run the docker-compose up command, it will look for a local image by the name we specified, hello-world. With this in place, we’ll save and exit the file.

You can look manually at images on our system with the docker images command:

  1. docker images

When there are no local images at all, only the column headings display:


Now, while still in the ~/hello-world directory, execute the following command:

  1. docker-compose up

The first time you run the command, if there’s no local image named hello-world, Docker Compose will pull it from the Docker Hub public repository:

Pulling my-test (hello-world:)... latest: Pulling from library/hello-world 9db2ca6ccae0: Pull complete Digest: sha256:4b8ff392a12ed9ea17784bd3c9a8b1fa3299cac44aca35a85c90c5e3c7afacdc Status: Downloaded newer image for hello-world:latest . . .

After pulling the image, docker-compose creates a container, attaches, and runs the hello program, which in turn confirms that the installation appears to be working:

. . . Creating helloworld_my-test_1... Attaching to helloworld_my-test_1 my-test_1 | my-test_1 | Hello from Docker. my-test_1 | This message shows that your installation appears to be working correctly. my-test_1 | . . .

Then it prints an explanation of what it did:

To generate this message, Docker took the following steps: my-test_1 | 1. The Docker client contacted the Docker daemon. my-test_1 | 2. The Docker daemon pulled the "hello-world" image from the Docker Hub. my-test_1 | (amd64) my-test_1 | 3. The Docker daemon created a new container from that image which runs the my-test_1 | executable that produces the output you are currently reading. my-test_1 | 4. The Docker daemon streamed that output to the Docker client, which sent it my-test_1 | to your terminal.

Docker containers only run as long as the command is active, so once hello finished running, the container stopped. Consequently, when we look at active processes, the column headers will appear, but the hello-world container won’t be listed because it’s not running:

  1. docker ps

You can see the container information, which you’ll need in the next step, by using the -a flag. This shows all containers, not just active ones:

  1. docker ps -a
CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES 06069fd5ca23 hello-world "/hello" 35 minutes ago Exited (0) 35 minutes ago hello-world_my-test_1

This displays the information you’ll need to remove the container when you’re done with it.

Step 3 — Removing the Image (Optional)

To avoid using unnecessary disk space, we’ll remove the local image. To do so, we’ll need to delete all the containers that reference the image using the docker rm command, followed by either the CONTAINER ID or the NAME. In the following example, we’re using the CONTAINER ID from the docker ps -a command we just ran. Be sure to substitute the ID of your container:

  1. docker rm 06069fd5ca23

Once all containers that reference the image have been removed, we can remove the image:

  1. docker rmi hello-world


You’ve installed Docker Compose on Debian 10, tested your installation by running a Hello World example, and removed the test image and container.

While the Hello World example confirmed your installation, this basic configuration does not show one of the main benefits of Docker Compose — being able to bring a group of Docker containers up and down all at the same time. To see how to use Docker Compose in more detail, take a look at How To Install WordPress With Docker Compose.

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Quick note: Docker version 2+ uses a prefix ‘v’ on the version number, so it should be included on the URL as well. I know it’s on the GitHub tag name, however it’s not clear until you look at past tags which didn’t have it. And curl fails silently because of it.

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