Docker Laravel Dev Environment

This post documents building a local Laravel development environment with Docker. Included are examples for debugging Laravel’s PHP with Xdebug using the Visual Studio Code editor. Source Code available on GitHub.

Install Laravel

In this example, we will be using the Composer Dependency Manager for PHP to install Laravel. To check if Composer is installed globally and in your PATH, enter composer --version in the CLI, for example,

composer --version
Composer version 1.4.1 2017-03-10 09:29:45

Get Composer if you need to install it.

With Composer, use the create-project command and the laravel/laravel package name followed by the directory to create the project in. The optional third argument is for a version number. For example, to install Laravel version 5.5 into a local directory such as home/laravel/mysite on the host computer, open a CLI then execute the composer create-project command from the directory where you want to create your project. For example:

cd ~/laravel

composer create-project laravel/laravel mysite "5.5.*"


Once composer is finished creating the Laravel project, we are ready to create the docker containers to host it. The following examples require both Docker and Docker Compose. Head on over to Docker, select Get Docker and the platform of your choice to install Docker on your computer. This should install both Docker and Docker Compose. The examples in this post were written while using Docker Community Edition, Version 17.09.0-ce.

Start Docker as needed and test the installation. Open a CLI and issue these commands.

docker --version

docker-compose --version

For the Windows platform with IIS installed, port 80 is likely in use. To eliminate conflicts, shut down the IIS web server. Open an admin command prompt and enter net stop was

PHP Container

This dockerfile builds from the official Docker Hub PHP image. At the time of this writing, php 7.1.10 was the latest non RC version available in the library. If you want to use a different version, change the php version as needed, such as FROM php:5.6.31-fpm.

Create the app.dockerfile in the root of the laravel project. For example, home/laravel/mysite/app.dockerfile

FROM php:7.1.10-fpm

# php-fpm default WORKDIR is /var/www/html
# change it to /var/www
WORKDIR /var/www

RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y \
    libmcrypt-dev \
    mysql-client --no-install-recommends \
    && docker-php-ext-install mcrypt pdo_mysql \
    && pecl install xdebug \
    && echo "zend_extension=$(find /usr/local/lib/php/extensions/ -name\n" >> /usr/local/etc/php/conf.d/xdebug.ini \
    && echo "xdebug.remote_enable=1\n" >> /usr/local/etc/php/conf.d/xdebug.ini \
    && echo "xdebug.remote_autostart=1\n" >> /usr/local/etc/php/conf.d/xdebug.ini \
    && echo "xdebug.remote_connect_back=0\n" >> /usr/local/etc/php/conf.d/xdebug.ini \
    && echo "xdebug.remote_host=\n" >> /usr/local/etc/php/conf.d/xdebug.ini \
    && echo "xdebug.remote_port=9001\n" >> /usr/local/etc/php/conf.d/xdebug.ini \
    && echo "xdebug.idekey=REMOTE\n" >> /usr/local/etc/php/conf.d/xdebug.ini

For Mac platforms, change the app.dockerfile xdebug remote host IP, e.g., xdebug.remote_host=

Then create an alias for IP to your existing subnet mask as follows:

sudo ifconfig en0 alias

If you want to remove the alias, use sudo ifconfig en0 -alias

Nginx Container

Create a nginx server block configuration file for php and the Laravel project root.

server {
    listen 80;
    index index.php index.html;
    root /var/www/public;

    location / {
        try_files $uri /index.php?$args;

    location ~ \.php$ {
        fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+\.php)(/.+)$;
        fastcgi_pass app:9000;
        fastcgi_index index.php;
        include fastcgi_params;
        fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
        fastcgi_param PATH_INFO $fastcgi_path_info;

This dockerfile builds from the official Docker Hub nginx image adding the nginx.conf Nginx server block configuration file to /etc/nginx/conf.d on the container.

FROM nginx:1.12

ADD nginx.conf /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf

The next page covers creating the docker-compose file, container build, create, start and stop. Xdebug and launch config for VS Code PHP debugging.

Published by

Jim Frenette

Web Developer – views here are my own except those taken from people more clever than me.

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