Custom Containers

Nitro does its best to give you 80 percent of what you need for local development. However, some Craft projects have to interact with non-common tools such as MongoDB, Elasticsearch, and etc. Installing and managing these tools can be cumbersome and error-prone process, but Nitro supports container commands that leverage Docker for easier setup.

Nitro exposes common tools such as Minio and Mailhog as services with the enable command.

# Adding a Custom Container

Imagine we’re working on a project that needs to interact with data stored in Elasticsearch. We can use the container new command to add the container, ports, and volumes to our Nitro configuration file. The container new command provides prompts to walk you through setup.

$ nitro container new
What image are you trying to add? elasticsearch
Which image should we use?
  1. elasticsearch
  2. bitnami/elasticsearch
  3. bitnami/elasticsearch-exporter
  4. elastichq/elasticsearch-hq
  5. justwatch/elasticsearch_exporter
  6. taskrabbit/elasticsearch-dump
  7. lmenezes/elasticsearch-kopf
  8. blacktop/elasticsearch
  9. barnybug/elasticsearch
  10. elastic/elasticsearch
Enter your selection: 1
What tag should we use [latest]? 7.10.1
  … downloading ✓
Expose port `9200` on the host machine [Y/n]? y
Expose port `9300` on the host machine [Y/n]? y
Should we proxy one of the ports to expose a web based UI [Y/n]?
Which port should we use for the UI?
  1. 9200
  2. 9300
Enter your selection: 1
What is the name of the container [elasticsearch]?
Create a file to store environment variables [Y/n]?
Created environment variables file at "/Users/oli/.nitro/.elasticsearch"...
New container "elasticsearch.containers.nitro" added!
Apply changes now [Y/n]? n

nitro container new performs the following steps:

  1. Prompts for an image name and searches the Docker Hub Registry for matching images.
  2. Prompts for the Docker tag to pull (in our example we wanted version 7.10.1 of Elasticsearch).
  3. Downloads the image from the Docker Hub Registry.
  4. Examines the image and looks for exposed ports and volumes.
  5. Asks if you’d like to expose each port it found from the image’s config.
  6. Asks if you’d like to create a Docker Volume for each volume in the image’s config.
  7. Asks if you’d like create a file to store environment variables (stored at ~/.nitro/.<containername>).
  8. Prompts you to run nitro apply in order to update Nitro’s settings and your hosts file.

Nitro will use the portcheck command to verify the port is available or find the next available.

# Customizing Environment Variables for the Container

Most Docker images ship with sane defaults, but you may still need to use environment variables to configure the container. If you entered yes to the Create a file to store environment variables prompt, you will have a file created at ~/.nitro/.<containername>. To add an environment variable to your container, open the file and add a new line:


If the value contains whitespace, wrap it in quotes (").

To apply these changes, delete the container from Docker Desktop and run nitro apply. Your new environment variables will be appended to the container’s environment as it’s rebuilt.

Defining an environment variable in the local file will override the default environment variables an image defines.

# Removing a Custom Container

Use the container remove command to destroy a custom container. This will remove it from Nitro’s configuration, delete the running container, and delete the accompanying environment variable file if it was created.

Running nitro container remove will only prompt for container selection if you’ve added more than one custom container.