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This guide covers various Cloudron specific considerations, caveats and best practices when deploying apps on Cloudron.


If you already have an existing Dockerfile in your project, you can name the Cloudron specific Dockerfile as Dockerfile.cloudron or cloudron/Dockerfile.



The application container created on the Cloudron has a readonly file system. Writing to any location at runtime other than the below will result in an error:

Dir Description
/tmp Use this location for temporary files. The Cloudron will cleanup any files in this directory periodically.
/run Use this location for runtime configuration and dynamic data. These files should not be expected to persist across application restarts (for example, after an update or a crash).
/app/data Use this location to store application data that is to be backed up. To use this location, you must use the localstorage addon.
Other paths Not writable

Suggestions for creating the Dockerfile:

  • Install any required packages in the Dockerfile.
  • Create static configuration files in the Dockerfile.
  • Create symlinks to dynamic configuration files (for e.g a generated config.php) under /run in the Dockerfile.

One-time init

A common requirement is to perform some initialization the very first time the app is installed. You can either use the database or the filesystem to track the app's initialization state. For example, create a /app/data/.initialized file to track the status. We can save this file in /app/data because this is the only location that is persisted across restarts and updates.

if [[ ! -f /app/data/.initialized ]]; then
  echo "Fresh installation, setting up data directory..."
  # Setup commands here
  touch /app/data/.initialized
  echo "Done."

File ownership

When storing files under /app/data, be sure to change the ownership of the files to match the app's user id before the app starts. This is required because ownership information can be "lost" across backup/update/restore. For example, if the app runs as the cloudron user, do this:

# change ownership of files
chown -R cloudron.cloudron /app/data

# start the app
gosu cloudron:cloudron npm start

For Apache+PHP apps you might need to change permissions to www-data.www-data instead.

Start script

Many apps do not launch the server directly. Instead, they execute a script (named so by convention, you can name it whatever you like) which is used as the app entry point.

At the end of the Dockerfile you should add your start script ( and set it as the default command. Ensure that the is executable in the app package repo. This can be done with chmod +x

ADD /app/code/
CMD [ "/app/code/" ]

Non-root user

The cloudron runs the as root user. This is required for various commands like chown to work as expected. However, to keep the app and cloudron secure, always run the app with the least required permissions.

The gosu tool lets you run a binary with a specific user/group as follows:

/usr/local/bin/gosu cloudron:cloudron node /app/code/.build/bundle/main.js

Environment variables

The following environment variables are set as part of the application runtime.

Name Description
CLOUDRON Set to '1'. This is useful for writing Cloudron specific code
CLOUDRON_API_ORIGIN Set to the HTTP(S) origin of this Cloudron's API. For example,
CLOUDRON_APP_DOMAIN The domain name of the application. For example,
CLOUDRON_APP_ORIGIN The HTTP(s) origin of the application. For example,
CLOUDRON_PROXY_IP The IP address of the Cloudron reverse proxy. Apps can trust the HTTP headers (like X-Forwarded-For) for requests originating from this IP address.
CLOUDRON_WEBADMIN_ORIGIN The HTTP(S) origin of the Cloudron's dashboard. For example,

You can set custom environment variables using cloudron env.


Cloudron applications stream their logs to stdout and stderr. Logging to stdout has many advantages:

  • App does not need to rotate logs and the Cloudron takes care of managing logs.
  • App does not need special mechanism to release log file handles (on a log rotate).
  • Integrates better with tooling like cloudron cli.

In practice, this ideal is hard to achieve. Some programs like apache simply don't log to stdout. In such cases, simply log to a subdirectory in /run (two levels deep) into files with .log extension and Cloudron will autorotate the logs.

Multiple processes

Docker supports restarting processes natively. Should your application crash, it will be restarted automatically. If your application is a single process, you do not require any process manager.

Use supervisor, pm2 or any of the other process managers if your application has more then one component. This excludes web servers like apache, nginx which can already manage their children by themselves. Be sure to pick a process manager that forwards signals to child processes.


Supervisor can be configured to send the app's output to stdout as follows:


Memory Limit

By default, applications get 256MB RAM (including swap). This can be changed using the memoryLimit field in the manifest.

Design your application runtime for concurrent use by 100s of users. The Cloudron is not designed for concurrent access by 1000s of users.

An app can determine it's memory limit by reading /sys/fs/cgroup/memory/memory.limit_in_bytes. For example, to spin one worker for every 150M RAM available to the app:

memory_limit=$(cat /sys/fs/cgroup/memory/memory.limit_in_bytes)
worker_count=$((memory_limit/1024/1024/150)) # 1 worker for 150M
worker_count=$((worker_count > 8 ? 8 : worker_count )) # max of 8
worker_count=$((worker_count < 1 ? 1 : worker_count )) # min of 1

SIGTERM handling

bash, by default, does not automatically forward signals to child processes. This would mean that a SIGTERM sent to the parent processes does not reach the children. For this reason, be sure to exec as the last line of the script. Programs like gosu, nginx, apache do proper SIGTERM handling.

For example, start apache using exec as below:

echo "Starting apache"
APACHE_CONFDIR="" source /etc/apache2/envvars
rm -f "${APACHE_PID_FILE}"
exec /usr/sbin/apache2 -DFOREGROUND


To inspect the filesystem of a running app, use cloudron exec.

If an application keeps restarting (because of some bug), then cloudron exec will not work or will keep getting disconnected. In such situations, you can use cloudron debug. In debug mode, the container's file system is read-write. In addition, the app just pauses and does not run the RUN command specified in the Dockerfile.

You can turn off debugging mode using cloudron debug --disable.


Apache requires some configuration changes to work properly with Cloudron. The following commands configure Apache in the following way:

  • Disable all default sites
  • Print errors into the app's log and disable other logs
  • Limit server processes to 5 (good default value)
  • Change the port number to Cloudron's default 8000
RUN rm /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/* \
    && sed -e 's,^ErrorLog.*,ErrorLog "/dev/stderr",' -i /etc/apache2/apache2.conf \
    && sed -e "s,MaxSpareServers[^:].*,MaxSpareServers 5," -i /etc/apache2/mods-available/mpm_prefork.conf \
    && a2disconf other-vhosts-access-log \
    && echo "Listen 8000" > /etc/apache2/ports.conf

Afterwards, add your site config to Apache:

ADD apache2.conf /etc/apache2/sites-available/app.conf
RUN a2ensite app

In Apache can be started using these commands:

echo "Starting apache..."
APACHE_CONFDIR="" source /etc/apache2/envvars
rm -f "${APACHE_PID_FILE}"
exec /usr/sbin/apache2 -DFOREGROUND


nginx is often used as a reverse proxy in front of the application, to dispatch to different backend programs based on the request route or other characteristics. In such a case it is recommended to run nginx and the application through a process manager like supervisor.

Example nginx supervisor configuration file:

command=/usr/sbin/nginx -g "daemon off;"

The nginx configuration, provided with the base image, can be used by adding an application specific config file under /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/ when building the docker image.

ADD <app config file> /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/<app config file>

Since the base image nginx configuration is unpatched from the ubuntu package, the application configuration has to ensure nginx is using /run/ instead of /var/lib/nginx/ to support the read-only filesystem nature of a Cloudron application.

Example nginx app config file:

client_body_temp_path /run/client_body;
proxy_temp_path /run/proxy_temp;
fastcgi_temp_path /run/fastcgi_temp;
scgi_temp_path /run/scgi_temp;
uwsgi_temp_path /run/uwsgi_temp;

server {
  listen 8000;

  root /app/code/dist;

  location /api/v1/ {
    proxy_http_version 1.1;
    proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
    proxy_set_header Connection "upgrade";
    proxy_read_timeout 86400;


PHP wants to store session data at /var/lib/php/sessions which is read-only in Cloudron. To fix this problem you can move this data to /run/php/sessions with these commands:

RUN rm -rf /var/lib/php/sessions && ln -s /run/php/sessions /var/lib/php/sessions

Don't forget to create this directory and it's ownership in the

mkdir -p /run/php/sessions
chown www-data:www-data /run/php/sessions


Java scales its memory usage dynamically according to the available system memory. Due to how Docker works, Java sees the hosts total memory instead of the memory limit of the app. To restrict Java to the apps memory limit it is necessary to add a special parameter to Java calls.

LIMIT=$(($(cat /sys/fs/cgroup/memory/memory.memsw.limit_in_bytes)/2**20))
java ${JAVA_OPTS} -jar ...