Deploy a stack to a swarm

When running Docker Engine in swarm mode, you can use docker stack deploy to deploy a complete application stack to the swarm. The deploy command accepts a stack description in the form of a Compose file.


The docker stack deploy command uses the legacy Compose file version 3 format, used by Compose V1. The latest format, defined by the Compose specification isn't compatible with the docker stack deploy command.

For more information about the evolution of Compose, see History of Compose.

To run through this tutorial, you need:

  1. A Docker Engine running in Swarm mode. If you're not familiar with Swarm mode, you might want to read Swarm mode key concepts and How services work.


    If you're trying things out on a local development environment, you can put your engine into Swarm mode with docker swarm init.

    If you've already got a multi-node swarm running, keep in mind that all docker stack and docker service commands must be run from a manager node.

  2. A current version of Docker Compose.

Set up a Docker registry

Because a swarm consists of multiple Docker Engines, a registry is required to distribute images to all of them. You can use the Docker Hub or maintain your own. Here's how to create a throwaway registry, which you can discard afterward.

  1. Start the registry as a service on your swarm:

    $ docker service create --name registry --publish published=5000,target=5000 registry:2
  2. Check its status with docker service ls:

    $ docker service ls
    ID            NAME      REPLICAS  IMAGE                                                                               COMMAND
    l7791tpuwkco  registry  1/1       registry:2@sha256:1152291c7f93a4ea2ddc95e46d142c31e743b6dd70e194af9e6ebe530f782c17

    Once it reads 1/1 under REPLICAS, it's running. If it reads 0/1, it's probably still pulling the image.

  3. Check that it's working with curl:

    $ curl http://localhost:5000/v2/

Create the example application

The app used in this guide is based on the hit counter app in the Get started with Docker Compose guide. It consists of a Python app which maintains a counter in a Redis instance and increments the counter whenever you visit it.

  1. Create a directory for the project:

    $ mkdir stackdemo
    $ cd stackdemo
  2. Create a file called in the project directory and paste this in:

    from flask import Flask
    from redis import Redis
    app = Flask(__name__)
    redis = Redis(host='redis', port=6379)
    def hello():
        count = redis.incr('hits')
        return 'Hello World! I have been seen {} times.\n'.format(count)
    if __name__ == "__main__":"", port=8000, debug=True)
  3. Create a file called requirements.txt and paste these two lines in:

  4. Create a file called Dockerfile and paste this in:

    # syntax=docker/dockerfile:1
    FROM python:3.4-alpine
    ADD . /code
    WORKDIR /code
    RUN pip install -r requirements.txt
    CMD ["python", ""]
  5. Create a file called compose.yml and paste this in:

          build: .
            - "8000:8000"
          image: redis:alpine

    The image for the web app is built using the Dockerfile defined above. It's also tagged with - the address of the registry created earlier. This is important when distributing the app to the swarm.

Test the app with Compose

  1. Start the app with docker compose up. This builds the web app image, pulls the Redis image if you don't already have it, and creates two containers.

    You see a warning about the Engine being in swarm mode. This is because Compose doesn't take advantage of swarm mode, and deploys everything to a single node. You can safely ignore this.

    $ docker compose up -d
    WARNING: The Docker Engine you're using is running in swarm mode.
    Compose does not use swarm mode to deploy services to multiple nodes in
    a swarm. All containers are scheduled on the current node.
    To deploy your application across the swarm, use `docker stack deploy`.
    Creating network "stackdemo_default" with the default driver
    Building web
    ...(build output)...
    Creating stackdemo_redis_1
    Creating stackdemo_web_1
  2. Check that the app is running with docker compose ps:

    $ docker compose ps
          Name                     Command               State           Ports
    stackdemo_redis_1 redis ...   Up      6379/tcp
    stackdemo_web_1     python                    Up>8000/tcp

    You can test the app with curl:

    $ curl http://localhost:8000
    Hello World! I have been seen 1 times.
    $ curl http://localhost:8000
    Hello World! I have been seen 2 times.
    $ curl http://localhost:8000
    Hello World! I have been seen 3 times.
  3. Bring the app down:

    $ docker compose down --volumes
    Stopping stackdemo_web_1 ... done
    Stopping stackdemo_redis_1 ... done
    Removing stackdemo_web_1 ... done
    Removing stackdemo_redis_1 ... done
    Removing network stackdemo_default

Push the generated image to the registry

To distribute the web app's image across the swarm, it needs to be pushed to the registry you set up earlier. With Compose, this is very simple:

$ docker compose push

Pushing web (
The push refers to a repository []
5b5a49501a76: Pushed
be44185ce609: Pushed
bd7330a79bcf: Pushed
c9fc143a069a: Pushed
011b303988d2: Pushed
latest: digest: sha256:a81840ebf5ac24b42c1c676cbda3b2cb144580ee347c07e1bc80e35e5ca76507 size: 1372

The stack is now ready to be deployed.

Deploy the stack to the swarm

  1. Create the stack with docker stack deploy:

    $ docker stack deploy --compose-file compose.yml stackdemo
    Ignoring unsupported options: build
    Creating network stackdemo_default
    Creating service stackdemo_web
    Creating service stackdemo_redis

    The last argument is a name for the stack. Each network, volume and service name is prefixed with the stack name.

  2. Check that it's running with docker stack services stackdemo:

    $ docker stack services stackdemo
    ID            NAME             MODE        REPLICAS  IMAGE
    orvjk2263y1p  stackdemo_redis  replicated  1/1       redis:3.2-alpine@sha256:f1ed3708f538b537eb9c2a7dd50dc90a706f7debd7e1196c9264edeea521a86d
    s1nf0xy8t1un  stackdemo_web    replicated  1/1

    Once it's running, you should see 1/1 under REPLICAS for both services. This might take some time if you have a multi-node swarm, as images need to be pulled.

    As before, you can test the app with curl:

    $ curl http://localhost:8000
    Hello World! I have been seen 1 times.
    $ curl http://localhost:8000
    Hello World! I have been seen 2 times.
    $ curl http://localhost:8000
    Hello World! I have been seen 3 times.

    With Docker's built-in routing mesh, you can access any node in the swarm on port 8000 and get routed to the app:

    $ curl http://address-of-other-node:8000
    Hello World! I have been seen 4 times.
  3. Bring the stack down with docker stack rm:

    $ docker stack rm stackdemo
    Removing service stackdemo_web
    Removing service stackdemo_redis
    Removing network stackdemo_default
  4. Bring the registry down with docker service rm:

    $ docker service rm registry
  5. If you're just testing things out on a local machine and want to bring your Docker Engine out of Swarm mode, use docker swarm leave:

    $ docker swarm leave --force
    Node left the swarm.