Setup a production server using Docker


We are moving to deployment based on Meteor Up.

The instructions on this page are deprecated

This page documents the process of setting up a production server for RadGrad using a Docker-based build mechanism.

Setup location

To start, you will need to create the ability for multiple developers to manage a single RadGrad installation on this server. You can do this either via multiple logins, each with sudo access, and a shared directory, or else via a single account whose password is shared amongst developers involved in production.

In this page, we will assume you (or a sysadmin) has created an account called "radgrad" that is used by all developers to manage this installation.

Open ports

Several ports on the server will need to be open:


Install Docker

First, install Docker and Docker Compose.

Please consult the Docker installation documentation and the Docker Compose installation documentation for instructions.


TO install Docker on Ubuntu 18, I followed these instructions.

There are useful instructions at the end documenting how to setup the user to not need sudo for docker.

Clone radgrad-docker

Next, clone the radgrad-docker repository with:

$ git clone

Setup config/

Your local radgrad-docker directory contains a subdirectory called "sample-config" containing various files and directories needed for the installation.

A production server will access a customized version of these template files from a directory you must create called config/. Here's how to do it:

radgrad-docker $ mkdir config
radgrad-docker $ cp -R sample-config/* config

Setup settings

In order for RadGrad to deploy successfully, it expects to find a file called "settings.production.json" in the config/ directory. To create this file from a template, run:

radgrad-docker $ mv config/sample.settings.production.json config/settings.production.json

See the reference guide on settings.production.json for details.

Setup https

RadGrad needs to run on HTTPS. Here is a procedure to request SSL certificates for your domain (from Let's Encrypt) so that it can run over HTTPS.

In addition to Meteor and MongoDB services, the RadGrad Docker services include nginx and certbot. The Nginx web server on port 80 is configured to forward HTTP traffic to an HTTPS web server on port 443, which subsequently reverse proxies traffic to the RadGrad application on port 8888.

Modify nginx.env

To begin, you will need to modify some of the configuration variables in the radgrad-docker/config/nginx/nginx.env file on the production server. This configuration file should have already been copied over from the sample-config/ directory earlier during the setup process.

This file contains three variables that you will need to modify. It defaults to this:


Modify the NGINX_SERVER_NAME variable with the domain name pointing to your host machine.

Modify the LETSENCRYPT_EMAIL variable with an email address that should be associated with the SSL certificate generated for the given domain name.

Finally, leave the LETSENCRYPT_STAGING_MODE variable set to 1 for the time being. This will ensure that you do not hit any certificate request limit while testing your HTTPS configuration.

Your nginx.env file should now look something like this:


Perform a test run

Before we begin, ensure that all RadGrad services are shut down by changing into the radgrad-docker directory and invoking docker-compose down.

Then, invoke the script and follow the prompts. It should look something like this:

radgrad-docker$ ./
Existing data found for Continue and replace existing certificate? (y/N) y
Deleting existing files in ./data/certbot. Sudo is used in case the ./data/certbot files are owned by root, which can occur if Docker Compose has already been previously spun-up prior to running this script.
### Creating dummy certificate for ...
Starting radgrad-docker_nginx_1 ... done
Creating radgrad-docker_certbot_run ... done
Generating a RSA private key
writing new private key to '/etc/letsencrypt/live/'
### Starting nginx ...
Stopping radgrad-docker_certbot_1 ... done
Stopping radgrad-docker_radgrad_1 ... done
Stopping radgrad-mongo ... done
Removing radgrad-docker_certbot_1 ... done
Removing radgrad-docker_nginx_1 ... done
Removing radgrad-docker_radgrad_1 ... done
Removing radgrad-mongo ... done
Removing network radgrad-docker_default
# Startup Docker-Compose. Note: Be sure that docker-compose.yml is same directory as this script.
docker-compose up -d --remove-orphans
Creating network "radgrad-docker_default" with the default driver
Creating radgrad-mongo ... done
Creating radgrad-docker_radgrad_1 ... done
Creating radgrad-docker_nginx_1 ... done
Creating radgrad-docker_certbot_1 ... done
### Deleting dummy certificate for ...
docker-compose run --rm --entrypoint "\
rm -Rf /etc/letsencrypt/live/$domains && \
rm -Rf /etc/letsencrypt/archive/$domains && \
rm -Rf /etc/letsencrypt/renewal/$domains.conf" certbot
Creating radgrad-docker_certbot_run ... done
### Requesting Let's Encrypt certificate for ...
Creating radgrad-docker_certbot_run ... done
Saving debug log to /var/log/letsencrypt/letsencrypt.log
Plugins selected: Authenticator webroot, Installer None
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Would you be willing, once your first certificate is successfully issued, to
share your email address with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a founding
partner of the Let's Encrypt project and the non-profit organization that
develops Certbot? We'd like to send you email about our work encrypting the web,
EFF news, campaigns, and ways to support digital freedom.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
(Y)es/(N)o: n
Obtaining a new certificate
Performing the following challenges:
http-01 challenge for
Using the webroot path /var/www/certbot for all unmatched domains.
Waiting for verification...
Cleaning up challenges
- Congratulations! Your certificate and chain have been saved at:
Your key file has been saved at:
Your cert will expire on 2020-12-27. To obtain a new or tweaked
version of this certificate in the future, simply run certbot
again. To non-interactively renew *all* of your certificates, run
"certbot renew"
- Your account credentials have been saved in your Certbot
configuration directory at /etc/letsencrypt. You should make a
secure backup of this folder now. This configuration directory will
also contain certificates and private keys obtained by Certbot so
making regular backups of this folder is ideal.
### Reloading nginx ...
2020/09/28 20:46:31 [notice] 10#10: signal process started

Request real SSL certificate

Now that everything looks good, we can now go ahead and request a real SSL certificate!

First, shut down all RadGrad services by changing into the radgrad-docker directory and invoking:

radgrad-docker $ docker-compose down

Then, open the opq-docker/config/nginx/nginx.env file and set the LETSENCRYPT_STAGING_MODE variable to 0. The file should now look something like this:

Finally, invoke the script and follow the prompts. The output should be nearly identical to that of the test run that was performed earlier.

Verify that the certificate was granted by visiting the RadGrad application using https.

Debugging: Check service status

Check to make sure all required services are running:

radgrad-docker$ docker ps
536005ec471f certbot/certbot "/bin/sh -c 'trap ex…" 27 seconds ago Up 25 seconds 80/tcp, 443/tcp radgrad-docker_certbot_1
89376ec0e6a9 nginx:1.15-alpine "/bin/sh -c 'while :…" 28 seconds ago Up 26 seconds>80/tcp,>443/tcp radgrad-docker_nginx_1
7bb923963c49 radgrad/radgrad:2.0.0 "docker-entrypoint.s…" 29 seconds ago Up 27 seconds 80/tcp,>8888/tcp radgrad-docker_radgrad_1
1ffaad0fa3b5 mongo:4.0.5 "docker-entrypoint.s…" 30 seconds ago Up 28 seconds>27017/tcp radgrad-mongo

Debugging: Check Docker logs

Sometimes they reveal problems. For example:

radgrad-docker$ docker logs radgrad-docker_nginx_1
2020/09/28 20:39:16 [emerg] 1#1: host not found in upstream "boxupdateserver:8151" in /etc/nginx/conf.d/app.conf:6

Setup oplog tailing


Setup DB indexes


ensure-indexes.js is not yet ready for use with RadGrad.

When you create a new RadGrad database, it's best to ensure that the indexes are created before any data is accepted.

Change directories into the radgrad-docker/scripts/mongodb directory.

Next, ensure that the MongoDB docker container is running.

Finally, invoke the script:

radgrad-docker/scripts/mongodb $ ./