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Orchestrates docker-compose for large, multi-pod apps

THIS PROJECT WILL BE RENAMED SHORTLY. Keep tuned; we'll have an actual release fairly soon, with any luck.

Latest version License Build Status

This is a work in progress using the compose_yml library. It's a reimplementation of our internal, ad hoc tools using the new docker-compose.yml version 2 format and Rust.

API Documentation

What's this for?

  • Does your app include more than one docker-compose.yml file?
  • Does your app contain a mixture of permanently running containers and one-shot tasks?
  • Does your app run across more than one cluster of machines?
  • Do individual components of your app need their own load balancers?
  • When running in development mode, do you need to replace 3rd-party services with local containers?

If you answer to one or more of these questions is "yes", then conductor is probably for you. It provides development and deployment tools for complex docker-compose apps, following a convention over configuration philosophy.


To install, we recommend using rustup and cargo:

curl -sSf | sh
cargo install conductor

We also provide official binary releases for Mac OS X and for Linux. The Linux binaries are statically linked using musl-libc and rust-musl-builder, so they should work on any Linux distribution, including both regular distributions and stripped down distributions like Alpine. Just unzip the binaries and copy them to where you want them.

The Mac binaries are somewhat experimental because of issues with MacPorts and OpenSSL. If they fail to work, please file a bug and try installing with cargo.

Trying it out

Create a new application using conductor, and list the associated Git repositories:

$ conductor new myapp
$ cd myapp
$ conductor repo list

Check out the source code for an image locally:

$ conductor repo clone rails_hello
$ conductor repo list
  Cloned at src/rails_hello

Start up your application:

$ conductor up
Starting myapp_db_1
Starting myapp_web_1

You'll notice that the src/rails_hello directory is mounted at /usr/src/app inside the myapp_web_1 pod, so that you can make changes locally and test them.

Run a command inside the frontend pod's web container to create a database:

$ conductor exec frontend web rake db:create
Created database 'myapp_development'
Created database 'db/test.sqlite3'

We can also package up frequently-used commands in their own, standalone "task" pods, and run them on demand:

$ conductor run migrate
Creating myapp_migrate_1
Attaching to myapp_migrate_1
myapp_migrate_1 exited with code 0

You should be able to access your application at http://localhost:3000/.

You may also notice that since myapp_migrate_1 is based on the same underlying Git repository as myapp_web_1, that it also has a mount of src/rails_hello in the appropriate location. If you change the source on your host system, it will automatically show up in both containers.

We can run container-specific unit tests, which are specified by the container, so that you can invoke any unit test framework of your choice:

$ conductor test frontend web

And we can access individual containers using a configurable shell:

$ conductor shell frontend web

The top-level convenience commands like test and shell make it much easier to perform standard development tasks without knowing how individual containers work.


To see how to use conductor, run conductor --help (which may be newer than this README during development):

conductor: Manage large, multi-pod docker-compose apps

  conductor [options] new <name>
  conductor [options] build
  conductor [options] pull
  conductor [options] up
  conductor [options] stop
  conductor [options] run <pod>
  conductor [options] exec [exec options] <pod> <service> <command> [--] [<args>..]
  conductor [options] shell [exec options] <pod> <service>
  conductor [options] test <pod> <service>
  conductor [options] repo list
  conductor [options] repo clone <repo>
  conductor (--help | --version)

  new               Create a directory containing a new sample project
  build             Build images for the containers associated with this project
  pull              Pull Docker images used by project
  up                Run project
  stop              Stop all containers associated with project
  run               Run a specific pod as a one-shot task
  exec              Run a command inside a container
  shell             Run an interactive shell inside a running container
  test              Run the tests associated with a service, if any
  repo list         List all git repository aliases and URLs
  repo clone        Clone a git repository using its short alias and mount it
                    into the containers that use it

  <name>            The name of the project directory to create
  <repo>            Short alias for a repo (see `repo list`)
  <pod>             The name of a pod specified in `pods/`
  <service>         The name of a service in a pod

Exec options:
  -d                Run command detached in background
  --privileged      Run a command with elevated privileges
  --user <user>     User as which to run a command
  -T                Do not allocate a TTY when running a command

General options:
  -h, --help        Show this message
  --version         Show the version of conductor
  -p, --project-name <project_name>
                    The name of this project.  Defaults to the current
                    directory name.
                    Use overrides from the specified subdirectory of
                    `pods/overrides` [default: development]
                    A list of tagged image names, one per line, to
                    be used as defaults for images

Run conductor in a directory containing a `pods` subdirectory.  For more
information, see

What's a pod?

A "pod" is a tightly-linked group of containers that are always deployed together. Kubernetes defines pods as:

A pod (as in a pod of whales or pea pod) is a group of one or more containers (such as Docker containers), the shared storage for those containers, and options about how to run the containers. Pods are always co-located and co-scheduled, and run in a shared context. A pod models an application-specific “logical host” - it contains one or more application containers which are relatively tightly coupled — in a pre-container world, they would have executed on the same physical or virtual machine.

If you're using Amazon's ECS, a pod corresponds to an ECS "task" or "service". If you're using Docker Swarm, a pod corresponds to a single docker-compose.xml file full of services that you always launch as a single unit.

Pods typically talk to other pods using ordinary DNS lookups or service discovery. If a pod accepts outside network connections, it will often do so via a load balancer.

Project format

See examples/hello for a complete example.

└── pods
    ├── common.env
    ├── frontend.yml
    └── overrides
        ├── development
        │   └── common.env
        ├── production
        │   ├── common.env
        │   └── frontend.yml
        └── test
            └── common.env

Development notes

Pull requests are welcome! If you're not sure whether your idea would fit into the project's vision, please feel free to file an issue and ask us.

Setting up tools

When working on this code, we recommend installing the following support tools:

cargo install rustfmt
cargo install cargo-watch

We also recommend installing nightly Rust, which produces better error messages and supports extra warnings using Clippy:

rustup update nightly
rustup override set nightly

If nightly produces build errors, you may need to update your compiler and libraries to the latest versions:

rustup update nightly
cargo update

If that still doesn't work, try stable:

rustup override set stable

If you're using nightly, run the following in a terminal as you edit:

cargo watch "test --no-default-features --features unstable --color=always" \
    "build --no-default-features --features unstable --color=always"

If you're using stable, leave out --no-default-features --features unstable:

cargo watch "test --color=always" "build --color=always"

Before committing your code, run:

cargo fmt

This will automatically reformat your code according to the project's conventions. We use Travis CI to verify that cargo fmt has been run and that the project builds with no warnings. If it fails, no worries—just go ahead and fix your pull request, or ask us for help.

Official releases

To make an official release, you need to be a maintainer, and you need to have cargo publish permissions. If this is the case, first edit Cargo.toml to bump the version number, then regenerate Cargo.lock using:

cargo build

Commit the release, using a commit message of the format:



Then run:

git tag v$VERSION
git push; git push --tags
cargo publish

This will rebuild the official binaries using Travis CI, and upload a new version of the crate to


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