Managing docker containers with makefiles

 Image by Jason Scott, licensed under CC-BY-2.0.

I’m very old school when it comes to managing my personal infrastructure. When I came across Jessie Frazelle‘s blog on her personal infrastructure I was inspired to adopt a makefile based approach. There are a couple of others who’ve written about similar approaches.

Here is a generic version of my makefile for containers which are built and hosted on one of the container repositories

There are 3 targets: build, start, update. The update leaves the old container with a -old name. This is useful if you have to roll back to a previous version if for some reason the new container breaks. You could even create a rollback target that did this automatically.

Now, this is great if there is an existing container repository that has a container for you to pull, but things need to change if you are starting with a Dockerfile and building your own container.

Again, I’ve used the same build, start, update commands and have a built in assumption that the Makefile lives in the root of the git project. Instead of pulling from a container registry, we pull the latest from the git project and do a local build.

Having a very similar structure helps with consistency of managing my docker containers.

One day I would like to further enhance these makefiles to support checking for updates, be that a newer container build or git changes. Adding a post update check to ensure that the container has started would be very good too.

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