How to easily install Redmine using Docker Images

Note: Also see this followup post on how to use custom themes in this setup and this followup post on how to backup Redmine using this setup.

This tutorial shows you step-by-step the easiest method of setting up a fresh redmine installation I have found so far. The commands have been tested on Ubuntu 18.04, but they should work with minimal modification on other DEB-based distributions

Installing Docker & Docker-Compose

Please follow the instructions in How to install docker and docker-compose on Ubuntu in 30 seconds

Creating the directory & docker-compose configuration

We will install redmine in /var/lib/redmine which will host the data directories and the docker-compose script.

# Create directories
sudo mkdir /var/lib/redmine
sudo mkdir -p /var/lib/redmine/redmine_data /var/lib/redmine/mariadb_data
# Set correct permissions for the directories
sudo chown -R $USER:docker /var/lib/redmine
sudo chown -R 1001:1001 /var/lib/redmine/redmine_data /var/lib/redmine/mariadb_data

Next, we’ll create /var/lib/redmine/docker-compose.yml.

There’s a couple of things you need to change here:

Note that you do not need to change REDMINE_PASSWORD - when you login for the first time, redmine will force you to change the password anyway.

version: '2'
    image: 'bitnami/mariadb:latest'
      - '/var/lib/redmine/mariadb_data:/bitnami'
    image: 'bitnami/redmine:latest'
      - REDMINE_USERNAME=admin
      - REDMINE_PASSWORD=redmineadmin
      - SMTP_PORT=25
      - SMTP_PASSWORD=yourGmailPassword
      - '3718:3000'
      - '/var/lib/redmine/redmine_data:/bitnami'
      - mariadb

Setting up the systemd service

Next, we’ll configure the systemd service in /etc/systemd/system/redmine.service.

Set User=... to your current user in the [Service] section.


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


After creating the file, we can enable and start the redmine service:

sudo systemctl enable redmine
sudo systemctl start redmine

The output of sudo systemctl start redmine should be empty. In case it is

Job for redmine.service failed because the control process exited with error code.
See "systemctl status redmine.service" and "journalctl -xe" for details.

debug the issue using journalctl -xe and journalctl -e

The first startup usually takes about 3 minutes, so grab a cup of coffee.

Now you can check if redmine is running using

wget -qO- http://localhost:3718/

(if you changed the port config before, you need to use your custom port in the URL).

If it worked, it will show a large HTML output, ending with

<div id="footer">
  <div class="bgl"><div class="bgr">
    Powered by <a href="">Redmine</a> &copy; 2006-2018 Jean-Philippe Lang


If the output is empty, try wget -O- http://localhost:3718/ to see the error message

We’ll use nginx to proxy the requests from a certain domain (Using Apache, if you use it already, is also possible but it is outside the scope of this tutorial to tell you how to do that). Install it using

sudo apt -y install nginx

First, you’ll need a domain name with DNS being configured. For this example, we’ll assume that your domain name is ! You need to change it to your domain name!

First, we’ll create the config file in /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/redmine.conf. Remember to replace **by your domain name!**If you use a port different from 3718, replace that as ewll.

server {
    listen 80;

    access_log /var/log/nginx/redmine.access_log;
    error_log /var/log/nginx/redmine.error_log info;

    location / {
        proxy_pass; # docker-compose forwarded
        proxy_read_timeout 3600s;
        proxy_http_version 1.1;


Now run sudo nginx -t to test if there are any errors in the config file. If everything is alright, you’ll see

nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

Once you have fixed all errors, if any, run sudo service nginx reload to apply the configuration.

Test the setup by navigating your domain name in the browser. You should see the redmine interface:

Securing the nginx reverse proxy using Let’s Encrypt

First we need to install certbot and the certbot nginx plugin in order to create & install the certificate in nginx:

sudo apt -y install python3-certbot python3-certbot-nginx

Fortunately certbot automates most of the process of installing & configuring SSL and the certificate. Run

sudo certbot --nginx

It will ask you to enter your Email address and agree to the terms of service and if you want to receive the EFF newsletter.

After that, certbot will ask you to select the correct domain name:

Which names would you like to activate HTTPS for?
Select the appropriate numbers separated by commas and/or spaces, or leave input
blank to select all options shown (Enter 'c' to cancel):

In this case, there is only one domain name (there will be more if you have more domains active on nginx!).

Therefore, enter 1 and press enter. certbot will now generate the certificate. In case of success you will see

Deploying Certificate to VirtualHost /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

Now it will ask you whether to redirect all requests to HTTPS automatically:

Please choose whether or not to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS, removing HTTP access.
1: No redirect - Make no further changes to the webserver configuration.
2: Redirect - Make all requests redirect to secure HTTPS access. Choose this for
new sites, or if you're confident your site works on HTTPS. You can undo this
change by editing your web server's configuration.
Select the appropriate number [1-2] then [enter] (press 'c' to cancel): 

Choose Redirect here: Type 2 and press enter. Now you can login to redmine and finish the installation.

You need to renew the certificate every 3 months for it to stay valid, and run sudo service nginx reload afterwards to use the new certificate. If you fail to do this, users will see certificate expired error messages and won’t be able to access Redmine easily! See this post for details on how to mostly automate this process!

Setting up Redmine

Go to your domain name (if you have followed the instructions above, it should automatically redirect you to HTTPS). Click Login at the top right and login with the username admin and the default password redmineadmin. Upon first login, it will require you to change the password to a new - and more secure password.

I won’t describe in detail how to setup Redmine for your project. However there’s two things you should take care of immediately after the first login:

  1. Configure the correct domain name: Go to Administration -> Settingsand set Host name and path to your domain name, e.g. Set Protocol to HTTPS. You can also set a custom name for your Redmine installation under Application Title
  2. Still under Administration -> Settings, go to the Email Notificationstab, set an approriate sender email address under Emission email address (usually you would use redmine@yourdomainname.tld here, but you might want to use your SMTP username for some SMTP providers like GMail)
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the Email Notifications page and click Send a test email which will send a test email to the current redmine user’s email adress. Unless you have changed it, the default is the address configured in REDMINE_EMAIL in /var/lib/redmine/docker-compose.yml.

In case the email does not work, change SMTP_...=... in /var/lib/redmine/docker-compose.yml but you also have to change it in /var/lib/redmine/redmine_data/redmine/conf/configuration.yml ! After doing the changes, restart redmine by

sudo systemctl restart redmine

which will use the new configuration from the config file.

Block access to the forwarded port using ufw (optional)

ufw is a simple Firewall for Ubuntu. Use sudo apt install ufw to install it and sudo ufw enable to activate it. The default configuration will allow SSH but it will block other ports, including port 3718 or any other custom port you might have used.

In order to enable it, use

sudo ufw enable
sudo ufw allow ssh
sudo ufw allow http
sudo ufw allow https

Remember to add any ports you need to have open to the list as well. See the ufw docs for more information.