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Installing a Production/Staging Server

If you are deploying Islandora on a server that is publicly accessible, there's extra precautions you should take for performance and security reasons. If you follow these steps, you'll see how we can use our codebase folder to build a custom Drupal container, and bake code into the container instead of bind-mounting it in. We'll also cover how to store passwords as secrets and set up TLS.

Getting Started

If you haven't already made a local environment, you'll want to do that first. These instructions build off of having a codebase folder.

Using your Domain

At this point, we're assuming that you've purchased a domain to use for your repository. By default, is used, which is fine for make demo and make local. But for your production site, you'll need to set the domain you own in your .env file.


Sensitive information, such as passwords, should never be built into a container. It also shouldn't ever be bind-mounted in like we do with our codebase folder. If you use secrets, it's like bind-mounting in a file, except that file is provided from the host machine to the container using an encrypted channel.

To use secrets, set the following in your .env file


The secrets themselves are stored in the secrets folder of isle-dc. If you navigate to that directory, you'll see several small files, where each file represents a different password. By default, they are all set to password and you can change them to set your passwords for the system.


All public facing sites need to use HTTPS, and it's definitely a stumbling block for the uninitiated. Fortunately, isle-dc is set up to use HTTPS by default. Even when running make demo, your site runs over HTTPS at The default certificates are stored in the certs folder of isle-dc, and you can simply overwrite them with certificates from your certificate authority. As long as the certificates match the DOMAIN variable in your .env file, that is.

File Purpose
privkey.pem A PEM encoded private key used to sign your certificate
cert.pem A PEM encoded certificate that also contains the issuer's certificate as well. Most certificate authorities offer "Full Chain" or "With Issuer" certificates that contain everything you need. Occassionally, you may find yourself needing to manually concatenate your certificate with the issuer certificate by hand. In that case, the certificate for your site goes first, and the issuer's certificate is appended afterwards.

Using Let's Encrypt instead of Certificate Files

Full support for Let's Encrypt is not available yet with ISLE, but will be soon. It can be done by hand though. Just understand that it takes editing your docker-compose.yml file, and those changes will be destroyed if you regenerate your docker-compose.yml file for any reason. Be sure to back up your docker-compose.yml file once you have things in place.

The acme.json file

Create an empty acme folder in isle-dc and bind mount it into Traefik. When Traefik start up, it will write acme.json to this folder. Your volumes section for traefik in your docker-compose.yml file should look like

    - ./certs:/etc/ssl/traefik:rw
    - ./tls.yml:/etc/traefik/tls.yml:rw
    - ./acme:/acme:rw

Creating the certificate resolver

Add the following to the commands section for traefik to tell it to use Let's Encrypt.


Be sure to replace with the email address you've associated with Let's Encrypt.

Adding the certificate resolver to routes

For the Drupal, Matomo, and Cantaloupe services, you'll need to add labels to instruct Traefik to use the myresolver certificate resolver you just created.

For example, for Drupal

traefik.http.routers.isle-dc-drupal_https.tls.certresolver: myresolver


If you are still getting security exceptions, check what certificate is being used through your browser. Setting --log.level=DEBUG in the commands section for traefik will help out greatly when debugging. You can tail the logs with docker-compose logs -tf traefik

If you aren't careful, you can hit Let's Encrypt's rate limit, and you'll be locked out for up to a week! If you want to use their staging server instead while testing things out, use


You'll still get security exceptions when it's working, but you should be able to check the certificate from the browser and confirm you are getting it from the staging server.

Building and Deploying Your Custom Container

First, set your ENVIRONMENT variable to custom in your .env file in addition to the changes outlined above


Then rebuild your dockerfile to have your changes take effect

make -B docker-compose.yml

After this, you can build your custom container with

make build

You then deploy the container with

docker-compose up -d

Last update: July 23, 2021