A systemd service template for docker-compose

Here’s my template for running a docker-compose service as a systemd service:

# Save as e.g. /etc/systemd/system/my-service.service

# Shutdown container (if running) when unit is stopped
ExecStartPre=/usr/local/bin/docker-compose -f /home/uli/mydockerservice/docker-compose.yml down -v
# Start container when unit is started
ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/docker-compose -f /home/uli/mydockerservice/docker-compose.yml up
# Stop container when unit is stopped
ExecStop=/usr/local/bin/docker-compose -f /home/uli/mydockerservice/docker-compose.yml down -v


In order to get it up and running for your application, you need to modify a couple of things:

  1. Check if you have docker-compose in /usr/local/bin/docker-compose (as I do, because I use the docker-ce installation from the official docker repositories for Ubuntu 18.04) or in /usr/bin/docker-compose (in which case you need to set the correct docker-compose path in all 3 places in the service file)
  2. Ensure that the user you want to run docker-compose as (uli in this example) is a member of the docker group (sudo usermod -a -G docker <user>), and set the correct user in the User=... line
  3. Define a name for your service that should be reflected in both the service filename and the Description=... line
  4. Set the correct path for your docker-compose YML config file in all the Exec…=… lines (i.e. replace /home/uli/mydockerservice/docker-compose.yml by your YML path).

After that, you can start your service using

sudo systemctl start my-service # --> my-service.service, use whatever you named your file as

and optionally enable it at bootup:

systemctl enable docker # Docker is required for your service so you need to enable it as well!
systemctl enable my-service # --> my-service.service, use whatever you named your file as