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Power your Drupal 8 Project with Docksal

January 22, 2018

Hello and welcome to my first blog post for Mediacurrent! Today’s post will be all about Docksal and how it can help you get up and running developing on Drupal 8 quickly and easily. This post was inspired by the great session I saw at DrupalCon 2017 and will explain how using Docksal will save you time getting up and running for a new Drupal development project. I’ll also talk about some of the technologies behind Docksal such as Docker and Oracle VM VirtualBox.

How does it work?

Docksal works by using Docker (a software container platform) and VirtualBox ( a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware) to create projects with a few simple commands. Instead of having many VMs (virtual machines) for all of the projects or websites that you work on, Docker allows a person to use a single VM instance for many websites.

Why Docksal?

So, why Docksal? Why not just use Docker, download Drupal, and get started on development that way? If you’re already quite familiar with the Docker and VirtualBox installation process and you want to customize all of that yourself, you could do just that, but if you don’t the main advantage of Docksal is less set-up to get started on developing code with Drupal.


By following the instructions on Docksal’s documentation, you can see that when using one of its supported OSes, Docksal is installed in two to three steps.

The main step to pay attention to is usually the same for each OS: “fin vm start”. Fin is a handy command line tool that comes with installing Docksal. It allows you to manage all the services related to the docker machine and virtual machine with easy commands.

Saving Time with Docksal: How to customize your stack

To save you time on your projects, Docksal comes with a default set of configurations (or in their language, a “ stack ”) that controls what services your project will use. Within the default stack, you’ll find values for the typical services needed to run a website, such as configurations for PHP, a web server, and a database server. The current configuration being used for your project’s stack can be found by running “fin config show”.

It’s important to note that you should not change the configuration found in the yaml files for the default stack (under ~/.docksal/stacks). If you want to customize your stack, you should instead use the “.docksal” directory in your project. These are created after running “fin start” in your project directory. Customization will allow you to add support for more services, such as Apache Solr, Varnish, Memcache, Selenium, Behat, XDebug, and many more. Since Docksal uses Docker containers, almost any service that can be found on Docker can be made to work with it. A list of some typical services and how to configure them to work with your project can be found under the “Tools and Integrations” section on Docksal’s documentation page.

Docksal currently only comes with two stacks: default and Acquia. The Acquia stack is for quickly getting started on development for an Acquia environment.

I hope this post has served as a helpful guide to jumpstarting a Drupal 8 project with Docksal. For more information on Docksal stacks, please see the following documentation.

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