OwnCloud in a container

Quite some time, and especially since the NSA disclosures, I wanted to run my own file syncing service. So when I lately toyed around with DigitalOcean, coreos and docker the idea got prominent again and I set out to use all these hipster tools to install and run my own OwnCloud.

This is no introduction to the tools but rather a guide on how to install OwnCloud in the given environment. So some knowledge is expected.

General considerations

OwnCloud is an online file hosting, syncing and whatever service. There are some commercial vendors but as far as I know it is meant to be run privately.

Uploaded files will be stored in the local file system whereas user information and other metadata will be stored in a database.

OwnCloud can use SQLite but it is recommended to use a real database in a multi user setup. There is already a nice PostgreSQL docker container available, so the decision to use this particular database is quite easy. Lets call the postgres container in the following owncloud-postgres.

To serve the OwnCloud files a webserver with PHP support is required. In our case nginx will do the work. The official nginx docker container doesn’t provide PHP support and it is not so easy to configure it afterwords. I spent quite some time trying to get it to work but in the end I used my own Ubuntu container, owncloud-nginx.

In a docker environment files will normally be stored in separate volume containers to persist the file system changes. In our setup we need two of these, one to store the uploaded files and one to store the database. Lets call them owncloud-data and owncloud-postgres-data.

All containers together will form the following structure. docker-owncloud containers

In the next sections we will discuss how to setup these individual containers and how to put everything together.


The owncloud-data container holds the uploaded files. OwnCloud saves files in the data sub directory. Furthermore configuration changes are stored in the config sub directory.

To persist all changes the owncloud-data container needs two volume declarations, /var/www/owncloud/data and /var/www/owncloud/config. Because OwnCloud is very picky regarding the directory permissions a separate Dockerfile is needed in which all permissions are set to 0770 and the user to the later used www-data.

# OwnCloud - Data container

FROM busybox

MAINTAINER Norbert Schneider  <mail@herr-norbert.de>

RUN mkdir -p /var/www/owncloud/data
RUN chmod -R 0777 /var/www/owncloud/data
RUN chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/owncloud/data
VOLUME ["/var/www/owncloud/data"]

RUN mkdir -p /var/www/owncloud/config
RUN chmod -R 0777 /var/www/owncloud/config
RUN chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/owncloud/config
VOLUME ["/var/www/owncloud/config"]

CMD echo "Data container only (/data, /config)"

To create the container copy the statements above in a file called Dockerfile and run the following command in the same directory.

docker -t owncloud-data .

This creates a new image with the name owncloud-data from which you can start a container with this command:

docker run --name owncloud-data owncloud-data

Docker just prints the echo statement and exits immediately but to do so it also creates the volume container owncloud-data.


To serve the OwnCloud application a webserver is needed. Like I sad earlier I had some problems with the official nginx container so I created my own.

# OwnCloud -  nginx

FROM ubuntu

MAINTAINER Norbert Schneider  <mail@herr-norbert.de>

# Install stuff - supervisor, nginx and php dependencies

RUN apt-get update
RUN apt-get install -y supervisor nginx php5 php5-gd php-xml-parser php5-intl php5-json php5-mcrypt php5-fpm php-apc php5-imap php5-mcrypt php5-curl php5-imagick php5-pgsql php5-mysql php5-sqlite smbclient curl libcurl3 bzip2
RUN apt-get clean && rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/* /tmp/* /var/tmp/*

# Install OwnCloud

WORKDIR /var/www
RUN curl https://download.owncloud.org/community/owncloud-7.0.2.tar.bz2 | tar jx -C /var/www/
RUN chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www

# Configure nginx

ADD ssl.crt /etc/ssl/nginx/ssl.crt
ADD ssl.key /etc/ssl/nginx/ssl.key
ADD nginx.conf /etc/nginx/nginx.conf

# Configure php-fpm

ADD www.conf /etc/php5/fpm/pool.d/www.conf

# Configure supervisor

COPY supervisord.conf /etc/supervisor/conf.d/supervisord.conf


# Start everything

CMD supervisord

Let us go through the instructions. First supervisor, nginx and some PHP dependencies are installed.

After that curl downloads the OwnCloud tar and extracts the content into /var/www.

Then a self-signed SSL key is added to the image. Just take a look at one of the many tutorials if you need to generate one.

In the next step nginx and PHP configuration files are added. The files are basically the provided ones from the OwnCloud documentation and the whole content can be found on GitHub. They ensure that nginx uses SSL and can talk to the PHP service. Furthermore I like to have config files outside of the containers.

In the last part supervisor is configured and set as command for docker to run on startup of the container. Docker runs only one command, so if one only starts nginx the PHP service will not be available (this obvious constraint took me some time to figure out). To overcome this limitation supervisor is used to start both nginx and the PHP service.

This container contains everything needed to run OwnCloud but as mentioned earlier the use of a full-blown database is recommended. So read on …


The official PostgreSQL container uses the volume /var/lib/postgresql/data to store the database files. To create a separate volume container simply run the following command:

docker run --name owncloud-postgres-data -v /var/lib/postgresql/data busybox echo PostgreSQL data-only container


The PostgreSQL docker container is very easy to use and exposes an already installed default database schema on port 5432. To start the database run the following command:

docker run --name owncloud-postgres --volumes-from owncloud-postgres-data postgres

This will pull the official container, run it with the local name owncloud-postgres and use the volume container owncloud-postgres-data to store the actual database files.

Putting everything together

Now everything is created and can be put together:

docker run --name owncloud-nginx -p 443:443 --volumes-from owncloud-data --link owncloud-postgres:postgres owncloud-nginx

This will run the owncloud-nginx image, with the same name as container name, create a link to the owncloud-postgres container, use the owncloud-data container to store files and expose nginx on part 443.

Afterwards the OwnCloud configuration should be available at http://localhost:443. To finalize the installation add an admin user on the configuration site and configure the database access to use nginx on host nginx (name of the docker link between the container) with username nginx without a password.

Next steps

After everything is up and running you should think about updates, backups and maintenance. I recommend something like systemd to automatically restart the containers in the case of a crash or system restart and to have a look at the docker volume description to find out about backups.


It is not so hard to run your own OwnCloud especially when key infrastructure components are provided in a preconfigured container.

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