Bootstrap Ruby project in Docker

Bootstrap Ruby project in Docker

2022, Oct 25    

In the Ruby community, we have a lot of tools to help us to create a new project. But, if you are a beginner, you can be lost in the middle of all these tools. This code is a simple way to start a new project in Ruby using Docker without Rails, dip or any other framework dependencies. Great examples to start a new project in Ruby:

Development environment


Installed Docker with BuildKit support and docker-compose are required:

Docker setup

This article will use Docker Compose to run the Ruby code. Docker Compose is a tool for defining and running multi-container Docker applications. With Compose, you use a YAML file to configure your application’s services. Then, you create and start all the services from the configuration with a single command.

Let’s build the image with the following docker/Dockerfile where we can pass the RUBY_VERSION, DEBIAN_CODENAME as build arguments. The UID and GID are the neat parameters to configure file permissions for container volume that will be set in docker/docker-compose. Another important thing is that we are using a non-root user (UID:GID -> app_user:app_group) to run the application.


ARG UID=1000
ARG GID=1000

RUN groupadd --gid $GID app_group \
  && useradd --no-log-init --uid $UID --gid $GID app_user --create-home \
  && mkdir -p $APP_DIR \
  && chown -R $UID:$GID $APP_DIR \
  && gem update bundler \
  && chown -R $UID:$GID /usr/local/bundle \
  && bundler --version

# copy files required for `bundle install` step
COPY --chown=$UID:$GID Gemfile* $APP_DIR/

# entry point setup
COPY --chmod=755 docker/ /usr/bin/

# switching to app user

RUN echo "!!!!! Install gems !!!!!" \
  && bundle install -j "$(($(nproc)+1))"


CMD /bin/bash

Docker entrypoint script docker/ can be used to run commands as a non-root user on container start:

#!/bin/bash -e

export PATH="$PATH:/app"

bundle check || bundle install -j "$(($(nproc) + 1))"

# Then exec the container's main process (what's set as CMD in the Dockerfile).
exec "$@"

In this article, we have a simple Docker environment with Ruby-only app service. The docker-compose.yml file is responsible for creating the containers and the docker/Dockerfile is accountable for creating the image.

version: '3'
      context: .
      dockerfile: docker/Dockerfile
        RUBY_VERSION: 3.1.2
        DEBIAN_CODENAME: bullseye
        UID: 1000
        GID: 1000
      RAILS_ENV: development
      - .:/app:delegated
      - bundle:/usr/local/bundle
    stdin_open: true
    tty: true

Gemfile is copied to the container and installed gems. The bundle volume is used to cache the gems.

# frozen_string_literal: true

source ""

gem "byebug"

We have a final file structure:

$ tree .
├── Gemfile
├── docker
│   ├── Dockerfile
│   └──
└── docker-compose.yml

To run app container in other OS versions, different user/group ids, build composed containers with docker-compose build --build-arg RUBY_VERSION="3.0.4" --build-arg DEBIAN_CODENAME="buster" --build-arg UID="1001" --build-arg GID="1001", re-build it docker-compose build --no-cache. All the build arguments are optional.

The development environment can be started with

docker-compose run app

and then run any ruby commands.

The complete repository source code is available on docker-rails-bootstrap. Feel free to use it as a template for your projects. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments or reach out to me at @pocheptsov.

Next steps

In the following article, we will add Rails app to the project and compare full-size solution with our skeleton bootstrap.