I’ve been working on a project with my team that involves creating a selection of microservices. These microservices populate a
Couchbase Server bucket with data on an interval of our choosing and operate via an AWS EC2 server. The problem is that everyone on
my team has a preferred programming language. If we were to install every server side language to this server it would probably become
expensive. Instead we decided to use Docker containers for each microservice. Since we are only running them on an interval, we can
remove the container after every run keeping our core server lightweight and uncluttered with software.

We’re going to walk through some of the stuff we’ve been doing to make this solution possible.

Configuring Docker on an EC2 Instance

Let’s assume that our Amazon EC2 host is Ubuntu 14.04 because as of now that is the long term support release of Ubuntu. Log into
the EC2 host and execute the following as a sudoer:

The above will install Docker on the host and not as a virtual machine like you might experience in a Mac or Windows environment.

At this point in time Docker can be used. Our intention is to use a build script, but you can use it manually as well. If you
haven’t already installed Couchbase on the EC2 instance you can do that as well. Download the latest Debian file from the
Couchbase Downloads section and execute the following:

Alternatively you can choose to spin up an Amazon EC2 instance that is already running Couchbase Server. More information on that
subject can be found here.

Designing a Build Script

The Dockerfile is our build script for creating Docker images. In it we define what operating system to use, what
packages it will download, and what files it will contain.

I’m more of a Node.js guy so my microservices on this project are Node.js. Some of the others used Java and Python although this article
isn’t specific to any language. The build file for one of my microservices looks like the following:

To break the above file down, let’s look at all the pieces.

First we determine that this image will be Ubuntu 14.04 and non-interactive. This will be a base image so before we can start
running Node.js projects we need to install the dependencies. We update the operating system repository list and install curl because
Ubuntu doesn’t ship with it by default and we’ll need it to install the Node.js repository. Once curl is installed
we can add the Node.js 4.x repository and install the software.

This is where things become a little more specific to my project. My project has the following files and directories:

  • models/
  • routes/
  • package.json
  • app.js
  • config.json
  • mock_data.xml

The Dockerfile we’re creating sits within the root of this project structure.

What needs to happen is we need to copy everything into our image. This is done by using the COPY commands. Once
everything is copied over we can tell the Node Package Manager (NPM) to install all the dependencies found in the
package.json file.

The CMD line is what will be run when we deploy our built image.

Building and Running a Container

As of right now the Dockerfile should exist in the same directory as your script or application files. Although
unimportant, my application files is a Node.js project that will be automatically run.

Before running our container we must first create it based on the blueprint of our Dockerfile. Execute the following
via the Docker Command Line Interface:

The above will go through each step of the script and tag our image with the name my_project. Once built, at any time
you can execute the following from the Docker Command Line Tool to run our image:

Wait a second though. Why are we doing --add-host="localhost:"? In this particular example we are assuming
Couchbase is running on our local machine with the information localhost:8091. In the Node.js application, let’s
assume we try to establish a connection to Couchbase Server via http://localhost:8091. By default Docker will be
under a different subnet making this impossible. Localhost won’t be what you think it is. This is why we added a host with a

Under certain scenarios you may also find yourself doing --net=host instead of --add-host="localhost:".
More information can be found in
the official Docker documentation.

Because we copied our entire Node.js project and added CMD ["node", "app.js"], when the image starts, the command will run.
The app.js in theory will contain our logic to interface with Couchbase Server via the Couchbase Node.js SDK. The same
can be done for any programming language and Couchbase SDK. After the command finishes, the container will be removed.


You just saw how to get Docker running on an Ubuntu server and run a project in a container via a script. Although this method of
doing things won’t be for everyone, it accommodates our need to be able to run a project in any given programming language and
have it store data in Couchbase Server running at the host level.


Posted by Nic Raboy, Developer Advocate, Couchbase

Nic Raboy is an advocate of modern web and mobile development technologies. He has experience in Java, JavaScript, Golang and a variety of frameworks such as Angular, NativeScript, and Apache Cordova. Nic writes about his development experiences related to making web and mobile development easier to understand.

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