Compose FAQs


From July 2023 Compose V1 stopped receiving updates. It's also no longer available in new releases of Docker Desktop.

Compose V2 is included with all currently supported versions of Docker Desktop. For more information, see Migrate to Compose V2.

Docker's documentation refers to and describes Compose V2 functionality.

How do I get help?

Docker Compose is under active development. If you need help, would like to contribute, or simply want to talk about the project with like-minded individuals, we have a number of open channels for communication.

Where can I find example Compose files?

There are many examples of Compose files on GitHubopen_in_new.

What's the difference between up, run, and start?

Typically, you want docker compose up. Use up to start or restart all the services defined in a docker-compose.yml. In the default "attached" mode, you see all the logs from all the containers. In "detached" mode (-d), Compose exits after starting the containers, but the containers continue to run in the background.

The docker compose run command is for running "one-off" or "adhoc" tasks. It requires the service name you want to run and only starts containers for services that the running service depends on. Use run to run tests or perform an administrative task such as removing or adding data to a data volume container. The run command acts like docker run -ti in that it opens an interactive terminal to the container and returns an exit status matching the exit status of the process in the container.

The docker compose start command is useful only to restart containers that were previously created but were stopped. It never creates new containers.

Why do my services take 10 seconds to recreate or stop?

The docker compose stop command attempts to stop a container by sending a SIGTERM. It then waits for a default timeout of 10 seconds. After the timeout, a SIGKILL is sent to the container to forcefully kill it. If you are waiting for this timeout, it means that your containers aren't shutting down when they receive the SIGTERM signal.

There has already been a lot written about this problem of processes handling signalsopen_in_new in containers.

To fix this problem, try the following:

  • Make sure you're using the exec form of CMD and ENTRYPOINT in your Dockerfile.

    For example use ["program", "arg1", "arg2"] not "program arg1 arg2". Using the string form causes Docker to run your process using bash which doesn't handle signals properly. Compose always uses the JSON form, so don't worry if you override the command or entrypoint in your Compose file.

  • If you are able, modify the application that you're running to add an explicit signal handler for SIGTERM.

  • Set the stop_signal to a signal which the application knows how to handle:

    build: .
    stop_signal: SIGINT

Can I control service startup order?

Yes, see Controlling startup order.

How do I run multiple copies of a Compose file on the same host?

Compose uses the project name to create unique identifiers for all of a project's containers and other resources. To run multiple copies of a project, set a custom project name using the -p command line option or the COMPOSE_PROJECT_NAME environment variable.

Can I use JSON instead of YAML for my Compose file?

Yes. YAML is a superset of JSONopen_in_new so any JSON file should be valid YAML. To use a JSON file with Compose, specify the filename to use, for example:

$ docker compose -f docker-compose.json up

Should I include my code with COPY/ADD or a volume?

You can add your code to the image using COPY or ADD directive in a Dockerfile. This is useful if you need to relocate your code along with the Docker image, for example when you're sending code to another environment (production, CI, etc).

You should use a volume if you want to make changes to your code and see them reflected immediately, for example when you're developing code and your server supports hot code reloading or live-reload.

There may be cases where you want to use both. You can have the image include the code using a COPY, and use a volume in your Compose file to include the code from the host during development. The volume overrides the directory contents of the image.