My Home Lab 2020, part 3: Docker Swarm setup

Friday, March 27, 2020



Context reminder

Today, a new part of my homelab posts serie :). In the first post, I’ve explained my architecture choices for my 4 Raspberry Pi cluster. In the second, I’ve setup a GlusterFS replicated volumes on all my servers in order to have a shared folders between them (so you don’t care where containers are created).

In this post, I’ll talk about the initial docker swarm setup.


I have 4 Raspberry Pi, all having a /mnt/cluster-data GlusterFS volume mounted so that any files in there will be replicated on all Pis.

As a reminder, my 4 Raspberry Pi are named cell, ptitcell1, ptitcell2, ptitcell3. For GlusterFS, they all have the same roles, but not for our docker swarm cluster, so pay attention to the servers name :).

For the rest of the article, you should have an understanding of what docker, containers or a cluster are. You should also know your way a little navigating in a linux terminal. If not, go read some documentation first :).

Docker Swarm setup:


Docker Swarm1: > A swarm consists of multiple Docker hosts which run in swarm mode and act as managers (to manage membership and delegation) and workers (which run swarm services). A given Docker host can be a manager, a worker, or perform both roles.

Docker Swarm Node(s)2: > A node is an instance of the Docker engine participating in the swarm.

Docker Swarm Manager(s)3: > Dispatches units of work called tasks to worker nodes.

Docker Swarm Worker(s)4: > Receive and execute tasks dispatched from manager nodes.

My choices

I decided to setup a cluster with 1 manager node and 3 workers nodes. You can choose a different setup with multiple manager if you want but in this case adapt the following steps to your situation. I might later on change this, it isn’t complex to add a new manager or workers later on if needed.


Ok, let’s go then :)

First, install docker on all the pi5:

    curl -sSL | sh;
    sudo usermod -aG docker pi

Then, on the manager node (cell in my case):

    docker swarm init --advertise-addr <CellIpAddress> --default-addr-pool

Replace <CellIpAddress> by the local IP address of your node manager.

The --default-addr-pool is optional and is needed only if it conflicts with other network6.

On all the other nodes of our cluster (for me: ptitcell{1,2,3}):

    docker swarm join --token <token> <CellIpAddress>:2377

Replace <CellIpAddress> by the local IP address of your node manager.

And that should do it for basic setup, it’s that simple :)


Now, let’s start a simple container to see if this is working as expected. Let’s start a very simple container that create a simple webpage to visualize our containers. For this, we will use alexellis2/visualizer-arm.

    docker service create \
      --name viz \
      --publish 8080:8080 \
      --constraint node.role==manager \
      --mount type=bind,src=/var/run/docker.sock,dst=/var/run/docker.sock \

Now you can open a browser and go to http://<CellIpAddress>:8080

Finally, let’s transform this in a docker-compose.yml as this will be the format I will use to define all my services later on.

I’m saving all my services config files (docker-compose.yml) in /mnt/cluster-data/services-config/<nameOfTheService>, so in this case, I’m creating a /mnt/cluster-data/services-config/vizualizer/docker-compose.yml with the following content:

    version: "3"

        image: alexellis2/visualizer-arm:latest
          - "/var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock"
          - "8080:8080"
              - node.role == manager

And start it with the following command:

    docker stack deploy viz -c /mnt/cluster-data/services-config/visualizer/docker-compose.yml

Now you can go back to http://<CellIpAddress>:8080 to check if everything is still working!

            - node.role == manager

↑ This part is to force the container to be started on the docker swarm manager node.

If everything is working fine, you now have a docker swarm cluster setup and ready to manage services! We’ll go through this in our next post. In the meantime, you can stop and remove the viz stack:

    docker stack rm viz

To be Continued… :-)

Now we have a very basic docker swarm setup working and ready to manage stack, services and containers :) … But that will be in my next blog post where we’ll start managing real services, with traefik 2 as a reverse proxy with automated redirection to https and automatic ssl via letsencrypt.

In this blog posts serie:

You can follow all posts about my Home Lab setup on the dedicated page.

In the Home Lab setup series:

To Do

To be writen: Monitoring, Backups, Tests environment, …

  1. Docker swarm documentation ↩︎

  2. Docker swarm documentation ↩︎

  3. Docker swarm documentation ↩︎

  4. Docker swarm documentation ↩︎

  5. Remember the tip using tmux synchronize-panes in [[][my previous blog post]] to launch commands on all servers at once :) ↩︎

  6. In my case, to avoid conflicts with my wifi network IPs. ↩︎


If you find any issue or have any question about this article, feel free to reach out to me via email, mastodon, matrix or even IRC, see the About Me page for details.

See Also

Simple load testing using siege

My Home Lab 2020, part 2: GlusterFS Setup