How to update docker containers

Learn the easy way how to update docker containers.  I show how I upgraded this site to the latest WordPress container.

Read on for my walk through on updating docker containers. 

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Update Docker Containers

I was aware I had been running this site for around three months but I hadn't updated the underlying containers.  This wasn't a problem but it did mean my containers had stood still missing security updates amongst other things.

Maybe like you, I wasn't sure how easy it is to update containers.  Here you can see how old my docker images were​.

I wasn't clear what the workflow was to update the containers and I was a bit reluctant to mess around with something that was working ok.   I knew PHP was out of date in my WordPress container running 5.6.17, where the latest included version was 5.6.20.  What else was I missing from using an out of date container?

Updating WordPress Container

WordPress 4.5 was released recently and I wanted to know the proper way to upgrade WordPress via Docker.  

I thought if I downloaded the latest WordPress image, it would come with an upgrade to 4.5 automatically somehow. I was looking at deleting the container, letting it be recreated with the new image.  None of that was needed.

Docker Compose Pull

After a bit of testing I came across this gem, which if your not familiar with is a good find:

​docker-compose pull

The documentation doesn't exactly go to town with explaining this function - "Pulls service images".   Basically, it will check what images you are using via your docker-compose.yml and if their not up-to-date, they will be downloaded, assuming you haven't specified a particular image.

This updated the images accordingly

Recreating Docker Containers 

Now if you run 'docker-compose up -d', the corresponding containers are recreated automatically:

With data stored separately (see my setup guide), in my case in a data only container, I knew this shouldn't disrupt the service.

I still had upgrade WordPress manually, this won't happen automatically.  Using the same WordPress image on a new container with no existing data it will go straight to version 4.5 by the way. 

Using WordPress's built-in update mechanism by clicking the 'Update Now' button kicked it off:

The WordPress database then needs updating:

Then after this you are all done, welcome to WordPress 4.5 or whatever the latest version might be.

Recreating containers was such a novelty for me at the start , I wanted to confirm the containers were truly being upgraded. On my WordPress container I installed a plugin called WordPress phpinfo(). This showed behind the scenes, the container had been upgraded, using the PHP version as an example.

BEFORE

AFTER

Update Docker Containers Wrap Up

I hope this was of interest and look out for future Docker posts.