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Advanced installation

You can always install Dokku straight from the latest - potentially unstable - master release via the following bash command:

# using a branch results in installing from source
sudo DOKKU_BRANCH=master bash


If you plan on developing dokku, the easiest way to install from your own repository is cloning the repository and calling the install script. Example:

git clone
cd dokku
sudo make install

The Makefile allows source URLs to be overridden to include customizations from your own repositories. The DOCKER_URL, PLUGN_URL, SSHCOMMAND_URL and STACK_URL environment variables may be set to override the defaults (see the Makefile for how these apply). Example:

sudo SSHCOMMAND_URL= make install

Bootstrap a server from your own repository

The bootstrap script allows the Dokku repository URL to be overridden to bootstrap a host from your own clone of Dokku using the DOKKU_REPO environment variable. Example:

chmod +x

Custom herokuish build

Dokku ships with a pre-built version of version of the herokuish component by default. If you want to build your own version you can specify that with an env variable.

git clone
cd dokku
sudo BUILD_STACK=true STACK_URL= make install

Skipping herokuish installation

The herokuish package is recommended but not required if not using Heroku Buildpacks for deployment. Debian-based OS users can run the bootstrap installer via sudo DOKKU_NO_INSTALL_RECOMMENDS=true bash to skip the dependency. Please note that this will also skip installation of other recommended dependencies.

Configuring an unattended installation

Once Dokku is installed, if you are not using the web-installer, you'll want to configure a the virtualhost setup as well as the push user. If you do not, your installation will be considered incomplete and you will not be able to deploy applications.

For Debian, unattended installation is described Debian installation guide.

You should also stop and disable the dokku-installer service to remove public access to adding SSH keys.

Set up a domain using your preferred vendor and a wildcard domain pointing to the host running dokku. You can manage this global domain using the domains plugin.

Follow the user management documentation in order to add ssh keys for users to Dokku, or to give other Unix accounts access to Dokku.

VMs with less than 1GB of memory

Having less than 1GB of system memory available for Dokku and its containers, for example Digital Ocean's small 512MB machines, might result in unexpected errors, such as ! [remote rejected] master -> master (pre-receive hook declined) during installation of NPM dependencies (

To work around this issue, it might suffice to augment the linux swap file size to a maximum of twice the physical memory size.

To resize the swap file of a 512MB machine to 1GB, follow these steps while in SSH within your machine:


cd /var
touch swap.img
chmod 600 swap.img

dd if=/dev/zero of=/var/swap.img bs=1024k count=1000
mkswap /var/swap.img
swapon /var/swap.img

echo "/var/swap.img    none    swap    sw    0    0" >> /etc/fstab