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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/live folder of isle-dc. If you navigate to that directory, you'll see several small files, where each file represents a different password. They are each randomly generated when you run make local.


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

Using your own certificates

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
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.
privkey.pem A PEM encoded private key used to sign your certificate

Requesting Certificates through Let's Encrypt

To use Let's Encrypt to acquire your SSL Certificate, set the following in your .env file and run make -B docker-compose.yml && make up.


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

The way this is setup, is it performs an HTTP Challenge to verify you are in control of the domain. So your system will need to be accessible at http://DOMAIN/.

??? warning "Let's Encrypt Rate Limit" 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, add the following to your .env file


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.

Troubleshooting Certificate Issues

If you are still getting security exceptions, check what certificate is being used through your browser. Setting TRAEFIK_LOG_LEVEL=DEBUG in your .env file will help out greatly when debugging Traefik. You can tail the logs with docker-compose logs -tf traefik. SSL certificate expired or revoked

The * certificate that covers will need to be redownloaded ocassionally, due to the certificate expiring or possibly being revoked. You can download the updated certificates by performing the following commands:

rm certs/cert.pem
rm certs/privkey.pem
make download-default-certs
docker-compose restart traefik Certificate Note

Please note that sometimes the upstream provider of the certificate takes a couple of days to update the certificiate after it expires or is accidently revoked.

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: May 11, 2022