NodeJS Development Inside Docker on Windows 10

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windows10 docker linux nodejs

Wait, what ?

Moving to Windows10 (6 months ago as of this writing) as my main OS is a bit hard, just a little bit. I use commandline ALL THE TIME and I can’t live without the developer’s Swiss army knife on my side - tiny tools that make our life easier: grep, sed, ps, tree, ssh, find

Bash On Windows” was a good strategy from Microsoft - I didn’t bother about switching to Windows and I didn’t think twice, I was more worried about which machine to buy.

I miss some of the good stuff from MacOS: Homebrew, Homebrew Cask, to name a few. I’ll just get a Mac mini for OSX development.

Frustration & Solution

I’m a member of the Windows Insider Program and their build releases includes fixes to some annoying issues, often with accompanying features. However, the build release 15031 affected my productivity. Bash On Windows would hang up and opening up a separate Bash window gives the same result - you can’t even close the window nor the running process - this would have been an easy kill -9 <PID> command in Mac/Linux, the famous ALT + CTRL + DELETE combination is nowhere effective. NodeJS via NVM wouldn’t work at all, see issue #1683.

Reboot! yep sometimes 6 reboots in a day

A rollback to the previous build release was the easiest solution. I hit the button and it works, as Ben Hillis said of Bash On Windows team:

The rollback feature really is great and doesn’t get enough credit. It’s saved me a couple times as well.

The hang up went out however there are still minor issues like slowness, etc. It’s bearable but I’ve already thought of finding an alternative, one where I could easily jump from different machine and OS eg. MacOS, Linux.

Docker, Docker

Enter Docker, I haven’t fully utilised this tool since its beta phase. 5 or 6 montsh ago there were issues with mounting folders from host machine inside a container, it was a show stopper for me at that time. I was following some steps from John Lees-Miller’s “Building a Node App in Docker” and everthing works except for mounting a shared folder.

February 2017, I revisited steps and it works!

Docker with Node Version Manager

Here’s the slightly modified Docker configuration.

  • OS: Ubuntu 16.04
  • NodeJS: v6.9.2 via NVM
  • NVM: v0.33.0
  • Docker: 1.13.1 (10072)
  • Docker Channel: Stable 94675c5


FROM ubuntu:16.04

# Constants
ENV HOME=/home/app

# Replace shell with bash so we can source files
RUN rm /bin/sh && ln -s /bin/bash /bin/sh

# add special user called `app`
RUN useradd --user-group --create-home --shell /bin/false app

# Install pre-reqs
RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y \
    build-essential \
    checkinstall    \
    libssl-dev      \

USER app

# Install NVM
RUN curl -o-${NVM_VERSION}/ | bash

# Install NODE
RUN source ~/.nvm/; \
    nvm install $NODE_VERSION; \
    nvm use --delete-prefix $NODE_VERSION;

USER root
COPY package.json $HOME/web/
RUN chown -R app:app $HOME/*

USER app
RUN source ~/.nvm/; \
    nvm use --delete-prefix $NODE_VERSION; \
    npm install;

USER root
COPY . $HOME/web
RUN chown -R app:app $HOME/*

USER app
RUN source ~/.nvm/; \
    nvm use --delete-prefix $NODE_VERSION;

CMD ["./"]


  build: .
    - '8080:8080'
    NODE_ENV: dev
    - .:/home/app/web
    - /home/app/web/node_modules


# load NVM environment
source ~/.nvm/
nvm use --delete-prefix v6.9.2

# start server
npm start