Common Setup

Before you begin there are two aspects of Docker and Outrigger setup that you must be aware of. These relate to how you share your code with your running Docker containers and how you ensure that any data you need to persist between executions of your containers is preserved. The examples you see throughout this documentation demonstrate configurations that take these aspects into consideration.

Project Code

The filesystem within containers is ephemeral! Any changes made there do not persist if the container is restarted. (See "Persistent Data Volume" below for a storage area that is preserved.)

In typical Docker images the code is built directly into the container at the /code path. This is a great mechanism that allows the container to be "self contained" (pun intended), immutable and not need any checkout/file system. You also know when you run a container exactly what code is in there because you generally don’t change the code unless you rebuild the image.

For development purposes, however, this is problematic because it is burdensome to rebuild an image for each code change. To solve this, there are a few available approaches you can take.

Approach 1: NFS Filesystem

Outrigger sets up an NFS filesystem from your Host Machine to the Docker host that you can leverage. Using this, you can easily mount your project code from the Host Machine into the running container, effectively overriding the files built directly into the image. The running container is then using the local project file system for the overridden paths rather than the file system built into the image. This allows a developer to use an IDE and edit code directly on the local file system of the Host Machine, but execute that code within the environment of the running container.

Note on Project Code Location

Your project code must be located somewhere within your home directory (/Users for Macs) on your local machine. This is because NFS shares your home directory into the Docker Host VM, and only files on the Docker Host VM can be referenced in volume shares.

Approach 2: Docker Volumes and Unison

There are some drawbacks to using the NFS Filesystem so your second option is to use a Data Volume to hold a mirror of your code base and user Outrigger's Filesystem Sync capabilities to automatically keep it in sync with your local code base. There are several advantages to this approach detailed on the filesystem sync page at the cost of a slightly more complex setup. Outrigger helps manage the creation and syncing of the data volume to minimize this complexity.

Persistent Data Volume

Outrigger maintains a data volume on the Docker Host that is mounted at /data into every container. This volume is persistent so long as you do not perform a rig remove operation. This ensures that file access on the VM is done natively for things like databases and other things where filesystem performance matters. If you configure a container to write to this area, you should use a project and container based namespace to prevent conflicts as this is a shared resource. For example, you may want to use a namespacing method like /data/[project name]/[environment]/[service name] as a safe location to write data. Over time you may find it necessary to manage this directory and delete old project data. This can be done through use of docker-machine ssh dev and then direct manipulation of /data.

Any code from your local directories is directly shared in to the Docker Machine VM via NFS at /Users. This means that even if you destroy and re-create your Docker Host, your code will be safe since it lives on the Host Machine.


Any files that are generated or changed within a running container that you want to persist after the container is stopped should be put onto a persistent volume local machine.
A Docker container represents immutable infrastructure, the files on the image are able to be changed at runtime but typically do not persist. When the container is stopped and run again it "boots" the files that were built into the original image. The volume at /data (mentioned above) is a persistent volume that you can use and Docker Data Volumes represent another.

Outrigger helps maintain the contents of the /data directory between upgrades of your Docker Host Virtual Machine though occasional maintenance to remove old project data will be needed. Docker data volumes do not persist between virtual machine upgrades but may be easier to manage using docker volume commands.