Installing Drupal 8 with Composer and Docker

By Ronald van Belzen | February 29, 2020

The preferred way to install Drupal 8 is with the aid of the PHP package manager Composer (Installing Drupal 8). When you also want to use Docker to create a local development environment you have several ways to approach this challenge. I will give an example of one such approach to set up an environment for Drupal development with Nginx, MariaDB, MailHog and XDebug.


When you are using a Mac or Windows 10 (Professional or Enterprise Edition) you just need to install Docker Desktop on you machine. For Linux visit the Docker site to determine the tooling you need to install.

When you have Docker Desktop installed and running you need set the disks you want to share in the settings Resources / File Sharing.

Installing Drupal

I did not install Composer on my machine, because I am going to use the Composer docker image from Docker Hub. For that I open my command-line interface and navigate to the directory in which I want to create the subdirectory for my Drupal project and execute the following command:

docker container run --rm --interactive --tty --volume ${PWD}:/app composer create-project --no-install drupal/recommended-project myproject

This command will pull the Composer docker image and create and run the container for this image and execute the composer create-project command without installing Drupal. But it will create the subdirectory "myproject" and the "composer.json" and "composer.lock" files. The "--rm" parameter will stop and remove the container after the command finishes.

First we need to change the "composer.json" in an editor by replacing the config parameter by the following config:

    "config": {
        "sort-packages": true,
        "platform": {
            "php": "7.2.28",
            "ext-gd": "1"

You may need to change the php version in your case (or leave it out) and you may need to include php extensions later on, but the "ext-gd" extension is required to be able to install the minimal version of Drupal 8. The Composer installation will fail without it.

Best also delete the "composer.lock" before installing Drupal with composer.