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Single-container Mastodon

Don't ever host things anywhere but on a domain that you own.

This violates all the docker best practices and puts the whole-ass app inside a single container (including redis and postgres!) so that you can easily bring up a self-hosted mastodon on things like caprover self-hosted PaaS in a single "app" without having to worry about multiple containers or configuring cross-container links.

This is scratching an itch: I really just wanted a one-command single-user Mastodon instance that stores all of its state in a single directory I can tar and scp.


  • Ubuntu bionic
  • Everything in one container, including minimal postfix, postgres, and redis
  • assets are precompiled on server startup
  • all state is in one volume/dir
  • database migrations can be run at startup

Build Variables

  • UID - numeric userid for mastodon user that everything runs as (default: 991)
  • GID - numeric groupid for mastodon user that everything runs as (default: 991)
  • REPO_URL: url to repository to use (default: https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon.git)
  • REPO_REV: git revision to use (default: c4118ba71ba31e408c02d289e111326ccc6f6aa2, mastodon v3.0.1)

Environment Variables


  • /state - everything lives in here, db, redis, static files, logs, everything

Note that /state/envdir is an environment-variable-defining directory that is used for all service invocations, so you can set environment settings here for all processes without restarting the docker container.


  • 3000: mastodon web (no tls, do that elsewhere)
  • 4000: mastodon streaming


All praise to wonderfall's earlier single-container mastodon:

(I only made this because it did not include postfix/postgres/redis.)


Jeffrey Paul <sneak@sneak.berlin>

Example captain-definition

For use with Caprover.

(Note that the NetData system monitor container that ships with CapRover is spyware, and CapRover refuses to address that they are embedding spyware, and the container maintainer refuses to patch out the spyware so it is advisable that you do not enable NetData when using CapRover unless you would like your usage data and IP and a unique identifier silently transmitted to Google.)

  "schemaVersion": 2,
  "imageName": "sneak/mastodon:v3.0.1"

After First Run

# docker exec -ti <container name> /bin/bash
root@c81a376bf546:~/app# su -l --preserve-environment mastodon
mastodon@c81a376bf546:~$ cd app
mastodon@c81a376bf546:~/app$ RAILS_ENV=production envdir /state/envdir \
     bin/tootctl accounts create <newusername> \
     --email <your email> \
     --confirmed \
     --role admin

If WEB_DOMAIN != LOCAL_DOMAIN, make sure you have both set in your shell's environment (or in the envdir) before running tootctl to add your user. If you are running within a PaaS like Caprover or Heroku and you set them in the GUI, they should be defined on the container itself and already in your shell (and stay there with --preserve-environment). You can check by running env before running bin/tootctl.