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Dokku uses nginx as it's server for routing requests to specific applications. By default, access and error logs are written for each app to /var/log/nginx/${APP}-access.log and /var/log/nginx/${APP}-error.log respectively

TLS/SPDY support

Dokku provides easy TLS/SPDY support out of the box. This can be done app-by-app or for all subdomains at once. Note that whenever TLS support is enabled SPDY is also enabled.

Per App

To enable TLS connections to to one of your applications, do the following:

  • Create a key file and a cert file.
  • You can find detailed steps for generating a self-signed certificate at
  • If you are not paranoid and need it just for a DEV or STAGING app, you can use to generate your 2 files more easily.
  • Rename your files to server.key and server.crt
  • tar these 2 files together, without subdirectories. Example: tar cvf cert-key.tar server.crt server.key
  • Install the pair for your app, like this: ssh dokku@ip-of-your-dokku-server nginx:import-ssl < cert-key.tar

You will need to repeat the steps above for each domain used to serve your app. You can't simply create a single tar with all key/cert files in it (see

All Subdomains

To enable TLS connections for all your applications at once you will need a wildcard TLS certificate.

To enable TLS across all apps, copy or symlink the .crt and .key files into the /home/dokku/tls folder (create this folder if it doesn't exist) as server.crt and server.key respectively. Then, enable the certificates by editing /etc/nginx/conf.d/dokku.conf and uncommenting these two lines (remove the #):

ssl_certificate /home/dokku/tls/server.crt;
ssl_certificate_key /home/dokku/tls/server.key;

The nginx configuration will need to be reloaded in order for the updated TLS configuration to be applied. This can be done either via the init system or by re-deploying the application. Once TLS is enabled, the application will be accessible by https:// (redirection from http:// is applied as well).

Note: TLS will not be enabled unless the application's VHOST matches the certificate's name. (i.e. if you have a cert for * TLS won't be enabled for or

HSTS Header

The HSTS header is an HTTP header that can inform browsers that all requests to a given site should be made via HTTPS. dokku does not, by default, enable this header. It is thus left up to you, the user, to enable it for your site.

Beware that if you enable the header and a subsequent deploy of your application results in an HTTP deploy (for whatever reason), the way the header works means that a browser will not attempt to request the HTTP version of your site if the HTTPS version fails.

Importing ssl certificates

You can import ssl certificates via tarball using the following command:

dokku nginx:import-ssl myapp < archive-of-certs.tar

This archive should is expanded via tar xvf. It should contain server.crt and server.key.

Customizing the nginx configuration


Introduced in 0.3.17.

Dokku currently templates out an nginx configuration that is included in the nginx-vhosts plugin. If you'd like to provide a custom template for your application, you should copy the existing template - ssl or non-ssl - into your application repository's root directory as the file nginx.conf.template. The next time you deploy, Nginx will use your template instead of the default.


Introduced in 0.3.10.

You may also place this file on disk at the path /home/dokku/myapp/nginx.conf.template. If placed on disk on the dokku server, the template file must be owned by the user dokku:dokku.

For instance - assuming defaults - to customize the nginx template in use for the myapp application, create the file nginx.conf.template in your repo or on disk with the with the following contents:

server {
  listen      [::]:80;
  listen      80;
  server_name $NOSSL_SERVER_NAME;
  access_log  /var/log/nginx/${APP}-access.log;
  error_log   /var/log/nginx/${APP}-error.log;

  # set a custom header for requests
  add_header X-Served-By www-ec2-01;

  location    / {
    proxy_pass  http://$APP;
    proxy_http_version 1.1;
    proxy_set_header Upgrade \$http_upgrade;
    proxy_set_header Connection "upgrade";
    proxy_set_header Host \$http_host;
    proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto \$scheme;
    proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For \$remote_addr;
    proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Port \$server_port;
    proxy_set_header X-Request-Start \$msec;
  include $DOKKU_ROOT/$APP/nginx.conf.d/*.conf;

The above is a sample http configuration that adds an X-Served-By header to requests.

A few tips for custom nginx templates:

  • Special characters - dollar signs, spaces inside of quotes, etc. - should be escaped with a single backslash or can cause deploy failures.
  • Templated files will be validated via nginx -t.
  • Application environment variables can be used within your nginx configuration.

After your changes a dokku deploy myapp will regenerate the /home/dokku/myapp/nginx.conf file which is then used.

Customizing via configuration files included by the default templates

The default nginx.conf- templates will include everything from your apps nginx.conf.d/ subdirectory in the main server {} block (see above):

include $DOKKU_ROOT/$APP/nginx.conf.d/*.conf;

. That means you can put additional configuration in separate files, for example to limit the uploaded body size to 50 megabytes, do

mkdir /home/dokku/myapp/nginx.conf.d/
echo 'client_max_body_size 50M;' > /home/dokku/myapp/nginx.conf.d/upload.conf
chown dokku:dokku /home/dokku/myapp/nginx.conf.d/upload.conf
service nginx reload

Customizing hostnames

Applications typically have the following structure for their hostname:


The subdomain is inferred from the pushed application name, while the domain is set during initial configuration in the $DOKKU_ROOT/VHOST file.

You can optionally override this in a plugin by implementing the nginx-hostname pluginhook. For example, you can reverse the subdomain with the following sample nginx-hostname pluginhook:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
set -eo pipefail; [[ $DOKKU_TRACE ]] && set -x

APP="$1"; SUBDOMAIN="$2"; VHOST="$3"


If the nginx-hostname has no output, the normal hostname algorithm will be executed.

You can also use the built-in domains plugin to handle:

Disabling VHOSTS

If desired, it is possible to disable vhosts by setting the NO_VHOST environment variable:

dokku config:set myapp NO_VHOST=1

On subsequent deploys, the nginx virtualhost will be discarded. This is useful when deploying internal-facing services that should not be publicly routeable.

Domains plugin


Introduced in 0.3.10

The domains plugin allows you to specify custom domains for applications. This plugin is aware of any ssl certificates that are imported via nginx:import-ssl. Be aware that setting NO_VHOST will override any custom domains.

Custom domains are also backed up via the built-in backup plugin

# where `myapp` is the name of your app

# add a domain to an app
dokku domains:add myapp

# list custom domains for app
dokku domains myapp

# clear all custom domains for app
dokku domains:clear myapp

# remove a custom domain from app
dokku domains:remove myapp

Container network interface binding


Introduced in 0.3.13

The deployed docker container running your app's web process will bind to either the internal docker network interface (i.e. docker inspect --format '{{ .NetworkSettings.IPAddress }}' $CONTAINER_ID) or an external interface (i.e. depending on dokku's VHOST configuration. Dokku will attempt to bind to the internal docker network interface unless you specifically set NO_VHOST for the given app or your dokku installation is not setup to use VHOSTS (i.e. $DOKKU_ROOT/VHOST is missing or $DOKKU_ROOT/HOSTNAME is set to an IPv4 or IPv6 address)

# container bound to docker interface
root@dokku:~/dokku# docker ps
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                      COMMAND                CREATED              STATUS              PORTS               NAMES
1b88d8aec3d1        dokku/node-js-app:latest   "/bin/bash -c '/star   About a minute ago   Up About a minute                       goofy_albattani

root@dokku:~/dokku# docker inspect --format '{{ .NetworkSettings.IPAddress }}' goofy_albattani

# container bound to all interfaces (previous default)
root@dokku:/home/dokku# docker ps
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                      COMMAND                CREATED              STATUS              PORTS                     NAMES
d6499edb0edb        dokku/node-js-app:latest   "/bin/bash -c '/star   About a minute ago   Up About a minute>5000/tcp   nostalgic_tesla

Default site

By default, dokku will route any received request with an unknown HOST header value to the lexicographically first site in the nginx config stack. If this is not the desired behavior, you may want to add the following configuration to nginx. This will catch all unknown HOST header values and return a 410 Gone response. You can replace the return 410; with return 444; which will cause nginx to not respond to requests that do not match known domains (connection refused).

server {
  listen 80 default_server;
  listen [::]:80 default_server;

  server_name _;
  return 410;
  log_not_found off;