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WordPress + Docker

Dear Vagrant,

You’ll always hold a special place in my heart but there comes a time when we have to put the past behind us. We grow, change, and you and I aren’t what we used to be. We’ve grown apart and become so different. There is no doubt that someone out there will love you, but for me; well I’m done with the days of an upgrade to VirtualBox breaking my virtual environment. I’m saying goodbye to your virtual machines taking a whopping 7 seconds to start. Vagrant, I’ve found someone else, and yes; it is Docker.

💔

If you’ve read any recent posts of mine, you’ll have noticed a distinct lack of information regarding WordPress. It’s not that I dislike WordPress now but given the option of developing with WordPress or not-WordPress, I’d choose not-WordPress. Remembering all of the hooks, the cluttered functions.php files, and bloated freemium plugins has all become so tiresome. That’s not to say that I’ll never work with it again, after all; this blog is powered by WordPress as is more than 1/3 of the web as we know it. Since I’ll never officially be done with WordPress, I should at least find some more modern ways to manage development with it.

Dockerize It

To get WordPress development environment up and running quickly, I use docker-compose. I’ve written about it before over here. It’s incredibly simple since the docker community maintains a WordPress image.

docker-compose.yml

services:
  db:
    image: mariadb:10.6.4-focal
    command: '--default-authentication-plugin=mysql_native_password'
    volumes:
      - db_data:/var/lib/mysql
    restart: always
    environment:
      - MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=somewordpress
      - MYSQL_DATABASE=wordpress
      - MYSQL_USER=wordpress
      - MYSQL_PASSWORD=wordpress
    expose:
      - 3306
      - 33060
  wordpress:
    depends_on:
      - db
    image: wordpress:latest
    ports:
      - "8000:80"
    restart: always
    volumes:
      - ./:/var/www/html
      - ./uploads.ini:/usr/local/etc/php/conf.d/uploads.ini
    environment:
      - WORDPRESS_DB_HOST=db
      - WORDPRESS_DB_USER=wordpress
      - WORDPRESS_DB_PASSWORD=wordpress
      - WORDPRESS_DB_NAME=wordpress
volumes:
  db_data:

For the most part, this file is the same as the one taken from the docker quick start example. Here are couple directives that I made changes to:

  • ports: I changed these around as I had some other services running from different programs
  • depends_on: Telling WordPress not to start until the DB has started also prevented some issues where I was seeing the famous “white screen of death”
  • volumes: set the current working directory to be the WordPress instance as well as created a custom PHP ini file to fix upload size restrictions

uploads.ini

file_uploads = On
memory_limit = 1024M
upload_max_filesize = 10M
post_max_size = 10M
max_execution_time = 600

Placing this uploads.ini file in a directory accessible by the docker-compose.yml let me fix problems with large file uploads.

I got 99 problems and they’re all permissions

This is all well and good but there are some issues when trying to develop locally. For instance, after running docker-compose up -d, I noticed that all files belong to www-data:www-data. This is necessary for the web server in the container to serve the files in the browser at http://localhost:8000. But then I didn’t have write permission on those files so how could I manage them?

I came across a couple of solutions but they each have their drawbacks. For instance, if I set the entire WordPress instance to be owned by my user, then the web server won’t have permission to read or write to files. I could also add my user to the group www-data but even then, I won’t have write permissions until I run something akin to sudo chmod 764 entire_wordpress_dir which isn’t desirable (but is probably the best option so far). The compromise I came up with was setting myself as the owner for all of the WordPress install, and giving WordPress ownership of the uploads directory. It seems that for now, I’ll just have to flip permissions via the CLI.

If you have ideas on how to resolve the permissions issue with WordPress and docker-compose, leave a comment below!

By Dylan Hildenbrand

10+ years experience in web development, homelab enthusiast, tinkerer

profile for Dylan Hildenbrand on Stack Exchange, a network of free, community-driven Q&A sites  

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