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Deploy your first app

In order to deploy an app you need two things:

  1. a server (e.g. Hetzner VPS)
  2. a DNS provider (e.g. Gandi)

Create your server

Co-op Cloud has itself near zero system requirements. You only need to worry about the system resource usage of your apps and the overhead of running containers with the docker runtime (often negligible. If you want to know more, see this FAQ entry). We will deploy a new Nextcloud instance in this guide, so you will only need 1GB of RAM according to their documentation. You may also be interested in this FAQ entry if you are curious about security in the context of containers.

Wire up your DNS

Typically, you'll need two A records, one to point to the VPS itself and another to support sub-domains for the apps. You can then support an app hosted on your root domain (e.g. and other apps on sub-domains (e.g., Your entries in your DNS provider setup might look like the following.

@  1800 IN A
*. 1800 IN A

Where can be replaced with the IP address of your server.

Install server prerequisites

On your server, you'll want to install Docker. This can be done by following the install documentation.

On a Debian system, that can be done like so.

sudo apt-get remove docker docker-engine containerd runc
sudo apt update
sudo apt-get install -y apt-transport-https ca-certificates curl gnupg-agent software-properties-common
curl -fsSL | sudo apt-key add -
sudo add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64] $(lsb_release -cs) stable"
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y docker-ce docker-ce-cli

Bootstrap abra

Once your DNS and docker daemon are up, you can install abra locally on your developer machine and hook it up to your server.

Firstly, install abra locally.

Here be dragons

abra is written in Bash version 4 and if you have a version older than that, you will face issues. You can check your current bash version by running bash --version. Some developers of the tool are using Zsh > 5 and things work fine. Some MacOS users have had to use this Homebrew formula to upgrade their Bash.

curl | bash

The source for this script is here.

You may need to add the ~/.local/bin/ directory with your $PATH in order to run the executable.

export PATH=$PATH:$HOME/.local/bin
abra --help  # check it works

Now you can connect abra with your new server.

abra server add

Where is replaced with your server DNS name.


abra server add accepts also a <user> and <port> arguments for your custom SSH connection details. What is happening here is that you are using the underlying SSH machinery to make a secure connection to the server installed Docker daemon. This allows abra to run remote deployments from your local development machine.

Once you've added the sever, you can initialise the new single-host swarm.

abra server init

You will now have a new ~/.abra/ folder on your local file system which stores all the configuration of your Co-op Cloud instance. You can easily share this as a git repository with others.

Deploy Traefik

In order to have your Co-op cloud installation automagically provision SSL certificates, we will first install Traefik. This tool is the main entrypoint for all web requests (e.g. like NGINX) and supports automatic SSL certificate configuration and other quality-of-life features which make deploying libre apps more enjoyable.

abra app new --server --domain traefik

We can then choose traefik as the app name.

You will want to take a look at your generated configuration and tweak the LETS_ENCRYPT_EMAIL value:

abra app traefik config

This is the required environment variables that you can configure and are injected into the app configuration when deployed.

abra app traefik deploy

We can then check that everything came up as expected.

abra app traefik ps   # status check
abra app traefik logs # logs watch

Deploy Nextcloud

And now we can deploy apps.

Let's create a new Nextcloud app.

abra app new --server --domain nextcloud

We can then choose nextcloud as the app name.

And we need to generate secrets for the app: database connection password, root password and admin password.

abra app nextcloud secret generate --all


Take care, these secrets are only shown once on the terminal so make sure to take note of them! abra makes use of the Docker secrets mechanism to ship these secrets securely to the server and store them as encrypted data.

Then we can deploy the Nextcloud.

abra app nextcloud deploy

And once again, we can watch to see that things come up correctly.

abra app nextcloud ps   # status check
abra app nextcloud logs # logs watch


Since Nextcloud takes some time to come up live, you can run the ps command under watch like so.

watch abra app nextcloud ps

And you can wait until you see that all containers have the "Running" state.

Your traefik instance will detect that a new app is coming up and generate SSL certificates for it.