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Forklift - when you need to handle just one container
Utilities to develop a containerised application.
The standard containers at InfoXchange require a number of environment
variables to run properly. With Forklift, they can be inferred automatically
and/or specified in the codebase.
Furthermore, it is often necessary to experiment within a running container.
Forklift includes a special 'sshd' mode to start the SSH daemon instead of the
original command, so that one can run arbitrary commands inside.
Forklift requires Python 3. Use the corresponding `pip` to install from PyPI,
for example, `pip-3.2` on Debian and `pip3` on Ubuntu. You will also need
Python header files installed, they are typically found in `python3-dev` or
Install the package system-wide:
sudo pip install docker-forklift
Or in a virtualenv:
pip install docker-forklift
The basic invocation is:
forklift APPLICATION ARGUMENT...
What happens is:
* The configuration files are being searched for a list of services to provide
to the command.
* For all of those services, an available provider is searched for.
* The found services, along with any additional configured environment, are
passed to the command as environment variables.
For example, if the project specifies:
Forklift will check if the PostgreSQL server is running on the local machine,
and pass the database URL to the application.
Forklift can run commands directly or Docker containers. By default, if the
application given is an existing file (e.g. `./manage.py`), it is run directly.
Otherwise it is assumed to be a Docker image to create a container from.
The environment is passed to the application in either case.
To override the choice, set `driver` parameter to either `docker` or `direct`.
Docker driver has specific parameters:
* `serve_port` - Services that the container runs on port 8000,
e.g., the container running a web server, will be available on this
* `rm`: Automatically remove containers after they've stopped.
* `privileged`: Run containers in privileged mode.
* `interactive`: Run containers in interactive mode (`-i -t`).
* `storage`: Run the container with `/storage` mounted as a volume under the
* `detach`: Run detached (`-d`).
* `mount-root`: Bind mount the root directory of the container filesystem to
the specified path (for *reasons* `mount-root` is only supported with
`detach` or SSH daemon mode).
### SSH daemon mode
Forklift can set up an SSH server inside the container, passing in all the
environment and adding the user public key. To use this mode, pass `sshd` as
the command (e.g. `forklift ubuntu sshd`).
The following additional options apply in SSH daemon mode:
* `user` - the user to set up for SSH in the container, defaults to `app`.
* `identity` - the public key file to authorise logging in as. Can be specified
as the full path or as a file in `~/.ssh`.
* `host-uid` - for ease to use with `mount-root`, the UID of the user inside
the container is changed to the one of the host user; override if needed.
When running in SSH daemon mode, Forklift starts the container in the
background and prints a command to SSH to it. It is up to the user to stop
the container when no longer needed.
Because the host keys of containers will be different every time, `ssh` will
warn about the mismatch. To disable host checking for `localhost` only, put
`NoHostAuthenticationForLocalhost yes` into the SSH configuration
Forklift can clean up old containers and images on your system. By default
it will clean up all stopped containers, and all untagged images.
Run `forklift recycle`
The following flags can also be passed:
* `--include-running` - also remove running containers
* `--include-tagged` - also include tagged images
Services and environment
The following environment is always available to the running application:
* `ENVIRONMENT`: `dev_local`
* `DEVNAME`: the current user name
* `SITE_DOMAIN` and `SITE_PROTOCOL`: The URL where the application will be
accessible to the outside world if it listens on port 8000 locally.
* Any environment variables from configured services.
* All extra environment passed as `environment` (e.g. `--environment FOO=bar`
will set environment variable `FOO` to `bar`).
Most of the services which provide per-application resources (e.g. a database)
need to distinguish between different applications running on the same host.
To do that, they are supplied with an application ID, which defaults to the
base name of the current directory. If needed, this can be overridden in the
configuration by the key `application_id`.
The services to provide to the application are taken from the `services` array
in the configuration file. The following services are known to Forklift:
Provides access to the database. The environment variable, `DB_DEFAULT_URL`,
contains a [Database URL][dj-database-url] for the application to use.
By default, Forklift checks if there is a PostgreSQL server running on the
machine, and if yes, provides the application with its details, taking the
application ID for the database name.
The following parameters can be overridden: `host`, `port`, `user`, `password`,
Provides an URL to access Elasticsearch at as environment variables
`ELASTICSEARCH_URLS` (the `|`-separated list of URLs to try at round robin)
and `ELASTICSEARCH_INDEX_NAME` (the index to use).
By default, the localhost is checked for a running instance of Elasticsearch
and if successful, the application ID is provided to use as the index name.
The following parameters can be overridden: `urls`, `index_name`.
### HTTP Proxy
Provides an HTTP proxy as an URL in `HTTP_PROXY`.
The following parameters can be overridden: `host`, `port`.
### Email (SMTP)
Provides an MTA for the application to connect to.
Defaults to `localhost` port 25.
The following parameters can be overridden: `host`, `port`.
### Logging (syslog)
Provides a syslog instance to log events to.
If not overridden, Forklift will start a daemon to print out all messages to
standard output and provide its address to the application.
The following parameters can be specified: `host`, `port`, `proto` (`tcp` or
Provides the settings `MEMCACHE_HOSTS`, a pipe-separated list of hosts
running memcache and `MEMCACHE_PREFIX`, a prefix to use for keys passed
By default, the localhost is checked for a running instance of Memcache
and if successful, the application ID is provided to use as the key prefix.
The following parameters can be overridden: `hosts`, `key_prefix`.
Provides the settings `REDIS_HOSTS`, a pipe-separate list of hosts running
Redis and `REDIS_DB_INDEX`, a DB-index you should use.
The following parameters can be overriden: `host`, `db_index`.
By default `db_index` will be 0 unless overridden in your config.
Forklift has a hierarchy of configuration options. For example, `services`
parameter is an array of services the application need, `environment` is a
dictionary of extra environment variables to provide, `postgres` overrides
options for PostgreSQL service, etc.
Every parameter value is searched, in order, in the following locations:
* Command line, e.g. `--driver direct` or `--postgres-port 5433` (note the
nested parameter syntax).
* User per-project configuration file in `forklift/PROJECT.yaml` inside the
[XDG configuration directory][xdg] (usually `$HOME/.config`), where
`PROJECT` is the application ID.
* Global user configuration file in `forklift/_default.yaml` in the same
* Project configuration file - `forklift.yaml` in the current directory.
The project configuration file is a place to store settings which the project
always needs, such as a list of required services, and is intended to be
checked into the version control system. (As such, the sensitive settings such
as passwords should not go here.) For example, a project depending on a
database might have:
User configuration files allow people to override project settings to adapt it
to their local setup. For example, if the PostgreSQL database server on a
particular machine runs on port 5433, the `_default.yaml` can contain:
This setting will be applied to all projects which are run through Forklift,
as long as they use a PostgreSQL database. An exotic setting only a specific
project needs can be overridden in a per-project user configuration file, for
# Only foo project needs this other database connection
Finally, the command line options can be used to quickly alter settings while
Download the file for your platform. If you're not sure which to choose, learn more about installing packages.