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Nextcloud behind Caddy as a reverse proxy, using Docker

Introduction

This is a guide to deploying Nextcloud behind a Caddy reverse proxy, both running in Docker containers (an official Nextcloud one and a caddy-docker-proxy one), with the goal of implementing as much as possible via docker-compose files. This is much more difficult than it should be, for a variety of reasons:

  • As with Docker versions of software in general, documentation of the software does not always apply to the Docker versions, and the Docker documentation does not always include the Docker equivalent ways of doing things.

  • Docker images do not always expose the desired configuration knobs of the underlying software.

  • Nextcloud requires special configuration to run correctly behind a reverse proxy (and again, some of the instructions for this configuration requires modification for Dockerized versions of Nextcloud and the reverse proxy).

  • Workarounds are necessary for various outstanding issues (and again, these workarounds have to be modified to work in a Dockerized configuration).

This guide documents in detail one method of deploying and configuring Nextcloud and Caddy in Docker containers. The guide consists primarily of instructions and configuration files; for explanations of some of the problems encountered and solutions thereto, follow the links provided. The customization in this guide is almost entirely for the Nextcloud container; the Caddy reverse proxy one is deployed in its basic, standard form, and can be used to reverse proxy additional services as desired.

This guide assumes that ports 80 and 443 on the host are available for use by Caddy. System commands used in this guide are for Debian Stable, but they should be easily adaptable to other distributions.

Domain Name

To make the Nextcloud instance publicly available, a valid domain name should be pointed at the server on which the Docker containers will be run. This can be a second level domain name (example.com), a third level one (nextcloud.example.com), and even one handled by a dynamic DNS (DDNS) provider (as long as the second level domain in question has been added to the public suffix list - see here and here).

It can be useful, particularly if multiple services or websites are to be made available behind the reverse proxy, to utilize a DNS provider that offers wildcard functionality, where all subdomains of the registered domain will automatically resolve to the IP address of the registered domain, i.e., if 'mydomain.example.com' is registered, Nextcloud and Caddy can be configured to be available at 'nextcloud.mydomain.example.com' without any further domain registration or configuration. Similarly, additional services can be deployed under other subdomains of 'mydomain.example.com' (e.g. 'web.mydomain.example.com', 'mail.mydomain.example.com'), again without any further domain registration or configuration.

Some DDNS providers do not offer wildcard support, or only offer it on a paid service tier, but at the time of this writing, the free DDNS provider Duck DNS provides automatic wildcard support out of the box. This guide will utilize the DDNS name example.duckdns.org, and make the Nextcloud instance available at nextcloud.example.duckdns.org.

SSL

Caddy provides "Automatic HTTPS". This means exactly what it says: as long as a valid domain name is used, Caddy will automagically implement HTTPS on its own, with no user configuration required. When the steps in this guide are completed, the Nextcloud instance will be available via HTTPS at https://nextcloud.example.duckdns.org, with no further configuration required.

Docker

Install Docker / Docker Compose:

# apt install docker-compose

Docker Network

Create the Docker network that the Nextcloud and Caddy containers will use to communicate with each other:

# docker network create caddy --subnet=172.16.0.0/24

Although manual specification of IP subnets and addresses is not really in the spirit of Docker, it is sometimes necessary, or at least convenient; in our case, it enables us to set the Nextcloud Docker container's TRUSTED_PROXIES environment variable (see below).

Nextcloud

Create the following file as something like $HOME/docker/nextcloud/docker-compose.yml. It is a version of the official Nextcloud "Base version - apache" docker-compose file, modified for Caddy integration:

version: '2'

# most of this is taken from here: https://github.com/nextcloud/docker / https://hub.docker.com/_/nextcloud
# changes and additions are documented in the comments below
# see also: https://github.com/nextcloud/docker/issues/1414

services:

  db:
    image: mariadb:11.2
    restart: always
    command: --transaction-isolation=READ-COMMITTED --binlog-format=ROW
    volumes:
      - db:/var/lib/mysql
    environment:
      - MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=<password1>
      - MYSQL_PASSWORD=<password2>
      - MYSQL_DATABASE=nextcloud
      - MYSQL_USER=nextcloud
    networks:
      caddy:
        ipv4_address: 172.16.0.8

  app:
    image: nextcloud:stable
    restart: always
    networks:
      caddy:
        ipv4_address: 172.16.0.7
        
    # see: https://github.com/nextcloud/documentation/blob/master/admin_manual/configuration_server/reverse_proxy_configuration.rst  
    labels:
      caddy: nextcloud.example.duckdns.org
      caddy.reverse_proxy: "{{upstreams}}"
      # see: https://github.com/lucaslorentz/caddy-docker-proxy/issues/114
      caddy.header: /*
      # see: https://docs.nextcloud.com/server/23/admin_manual/installation/harden_server.html#enable-http-strict-transport-security
      caddy.header.Strict-Transport-Security: '"max-age=15552000;"'
      # see: https://docs.nextcloud.com/server/23/admin_manual/issues/general_troubleshooting.html#service-discovery
      # https://github.com/lucaslorentz/caddy-docker-proxy/issues/222
      caddy.rewrite_0: /.well-known/carddav /remote.php/dav
      caddy.rewrite_1: /.well-known/caldav /remote.php/dav
    volumes:
      - nextcloud:/var/www/html
    environment:
      - MYSQL_PASSWORD=<password2>
      - MYSQL_DATABASE=nextcloud
      - MYSQL_USER=nextcloud
      - MYSQL_HOST=db
      # See: https://hub.docker.com/_/nextcloud/
      - APACHE_DISABLE_REWRITE_IP=1
      # See: https://github.com/nextcloud/documentation/issues/7005
      # and: https://old.reddit.com/r/NextCloud/comments/s3skdn/nextcloud_behind_caddy_as_a_reverse_proxy_using/hsnj5wh/
      - TRUSTED_PROXIES=172.16.0.6
    links:
      - db
  cron:
  # Nextcloud cron functionality with Docker deployments is not well documented:
  # https://github.com/nextcloud/docker/blob/master/.examples/docker-compose/with-nginx-proxy/mariadb/apache/docker-compose.yml#L39
  # https://github.com/nextcloud/docker/blob/master/.examples/docker-compose/insecure/mariadb/apache/docker-compose.yml#L35
  # https://github.com/nextcloud/docker/issues/1695
  # https://docs.nextcloud.com/server/latest/admin_manual/configuration_server/background_jobs_configuration.html
    image: nextcloud:stable
    restart: always
    volumes:
      - nextcloud:/var/www/html
    networks:
      caddy:
        ipv4_address: 172.16.0.9
    entrypoint: /cron.sh
    depends_on:
      - db

volumes:
  db:
  nextcloud:

networks:
  caddy:
    external: true

An alternative to including the database passwords in the docker-compose.yml file itself is to configure them via environment variables. A convenient way to do so is via an .env file. To use this method, modify the MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD and MYSQL_PASSWORD lines in the docker-compose.yml file as follows:

- MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=${MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD}
- MYSQL_PASSWORD=${MYSQL_PASSWORD}

and create a file named .env in the same directory as that file, containing the following:

MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=<password1>
MYSQL_PASSWORD=<password2>

The permissions of whichever file contains the passwords should be set to something like 600.

Choosing An Image Tag

The above file specifies the Nextcloud Docker stable image tag. There are actually dozens of available tags to choose from. For the purposes of this guide, one of the apache, rather than one of the fpm, tags should be chosen (i.e., the tag should either contain apache or contain neither apache nor fpm). Beyond that, any tag should work.

In general, the more specific a version is specified in the configuration, the less the likelihood of something breaking on update, at the price of not receiving various improvements and enhancements. (This is true for all containers, but is particularly significant for software as complex and as rapidly changing as Nextcloud. See here for Nextcloud's explanation of its release channels.)

Starting the Container

Set the password environment variables to strong random passwords. The two references to MYSQL_PASSWORD must contain the same value, and MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD should contain a different value. (They are only used internally, and will not be needed anywhere outside this file.)

Then, in $HOME/docker/nextcloud/, run:

# docker-compose up -d

Caddy

Create the following file as something like $HOME/docker/caddy/docker-compose.yml:

version: "3.7"
services:
  caddy:
    # see here for guidance on which image / tag to choose:
    # https://github.com/lucaslorentz/caddy-docker-proxy#docker-images
    image: lucaslorentz/caddy-docker-proxy:2.8.10
    ports:
      - 80:80
      - 443:443
    environment:
      - CADDY_INGRESS_NETWORKS=caddy
    networks:
      caddy:
        ipv4_address: 172.16.0.6
    volumes:
      - /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock
      - caddy_data:/data
    restart: unless-stopped

networks:
  caddy:
    external: true

volumes:
  caddy_data: {}

Then, in $HOME/docker/caddy/, run:

# docker-compose up -d

Nextcloud Installation Wizard

If everything has worked correctly, it will now be possible to finish the Nextcloud installation by running the Installation Wizard by navigating to https://nextcloud.example.duckdns.org and following the prompts. (If the database configuration via the Docker environment variables has worked correctly, then the "Storage and Databases" choices will not be available; if they are, then something has gone wrong with the configuration.)

Configuration

Navigate to https://nextcloud.example.duckdns.org/settings/admin/, and adjust the following configuration settings:

  • Follow the directions to configure an email server

Miscellaneous Steps

There are a few remaining configuration settings that should be set which can only be set by directly editing Nextcloud's config.php file (documented here), or via the occ command (see below), and cannot (currently) be set using Docker. The config.php file is located (in Debian, when following this guide) at /var/lib/docker/volumes/nextcloud_nextcloud/_data/config/config.php. Edit this file and set the following values:

  • 'default_phone_region' => '<ISO 3166-1 country code>' (e.g. 'US' - see here)

Using the occ Command

To run the occ command inside the docker Nextcloud instance, run the following on the host system:

docker exec -ti --user www-data <nextcloud_container_name> /var/www/html/occ <occ parameters>

where nextcloud_container_name is the name of the Nextcloud container (e.g., nextcloud_app_1), and occ parameters are the desired occ parameters.

To use the occ command to set Nextcloud configuration values, see the occ documentation.

Conclusion

Nextcloud shows a health check ("Security & setup warnings") at https://nextcloud.example.duckdns.org/settings/admin/overview. Even if everything in this guide has worked, some of the following warnings may appear:

The database is used for transactional file locking. To enhance performance, please configure memcache, if available. For more details see the documentation ↗.

See the documentation - the author of this guide has no experience with configuring memcache.

This instance is missing some recommended PHP modules. For improved performance and better compatibility it is highly recommended to install them: bz2. For more details see the documentation ↗.

This is a known and apparently spurious warning; it appears that it may be safely ignored.

Additionally, there may be a reference to "an error in the logs," and the logs may contain an error like the following:

[index] Error: Could not create folder "/appdata_ocxxxxxxxxxx/theming/global"
	GET /apps/theming/favicon?v=yyyyyyyy
	from zz.zz.zz.zz by admin at Jan xx, 2024, yy:yy:yy PM

It is likely that this, too, may be safely ignored - see here.

Updating

To update the containers, run (in the same directory as the appropriate docker-compose.yml file)

docker-compose pull && docker-compose up -d

This will update the containers to the latest versions (of the specified image tags). This can be automated with solutions such as Watchtower. General information on the maintenance of Docker containers and images, including the pruning of unused images and containers, is readily available online; see, e.g., here, here, and here.

@tmo1
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tmo1 commented Jul 19, 2022

@williamblair333: I'm glad the guide was useful, and that you figured out that last point. There's no need to donate anything, but if you want to, you can do so here.

@blazekjan
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I'm not sure I understand - do your rewrite rules differ from mine, beyond the appending of 301? In any event, my rewrite rules came straight from this page of the official documentation, which does not append the 301.

I'm using the redir directive instead of rewrite but, as I said, I'm not really sure if that changes anything 😅

Actually it should be set up as redir, it simply doesn't work with rewrite. Nextcloud also warns you it's not correctly setup, thus it wont work. I am using fpm image instead of the one used here with integrated apache webserver, which should perform a little bit better.

@tmo1
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tmo1 commented Sep 4, 2022

Actually it should be set up as redir, it simply doesn't work with rewrite.

rewrite works fine for me, and as I mentioned above, the official documentation uses rewrite.

@blazekjan
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Actually it should be set up as redir, it simply doesn't work with rewrite.

rewrite works fine for me, and as I mentioned above, the official documentation uses rewrite.

It has probably to do something with bundled Apache. I use fpm version which has no builtin webserver, so the caddy-docker-proxy has to take care of everything.

@jmollerhoj
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Actually it should be set up as redir, it simply doesn't work with rewrite.

rewrite works fine for me, and as I mentioned above, the official documentation uses rewrite.

It has probably to do something with bundled Apache. I use fpm version which has no builtin webserver, so the caddy-docker-proxy has to take care of everything.

Thanks for the info everybody. Super useful. @blazekjan do you have a working example compose using fpm, one could have a look at?

@blazekjan
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@jmollerhoj Of course, I have completely working solution based on fpm image, postgres and redis served purely through caddy-docker-proxy. I will post it to my github later today.

@coro1404
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@blazekjan are you still planning to do this?

@blazekjan
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blazekjan commented Oct 27, 2022

@blazekjan are you still planning to do this?

@coro1404 Did you check my repo? It is available there for a long time. Just check it out.

@coro1404
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@blazekjan are you still planning to do this?

@coro1404 Did you check my repo? It is available there for a long time. Just check it out.

found it thanks

@craigkh
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craigkh commented May 19, 2023

Is it possible to use this method with AIO? I have this working but I want Imaginary and Talk which do not appear to be included with the Base version used here (and appear to be a pain to add). I have tried ading the caddy labels from here to the AIO docker-compose.yml but all I'm getting is too many redirect errors or refusal to connect.

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