How to Install Caddy using Docker on a Vultr Cloud Server

Updated on November 12, 2023
How to Install Caddy using Docker on a Vultr Cloud Server header image


Caddy is an open-source highly extensive web server application that allows you to securely expose applications on a server. Docker is a container orchestration platform that allows you to build and deploy applications. To expose Docker applications, a reverse proxy such as Caddy runs as a web server to securely process requests over HTTP and HTTPS Ports.

This guide explains how you can install Caddy using Docker on a Vultr Cloud Server. When installed, you will create a sample Docker application and set up Caddy configuration files to securely expose your internal application.


Before you begin:

  • Deploy a Vultr Docker Server.

  • Using SSH, access the server

  • Create a non-root sudo user

  • Add the user to the Docker users group.

      $ sudo usermod -aG docker myuser
  • Switch to the non-root sudo user account.

      $ su - myuser


To install Caddy, you can either use Docker CLI or Docker Compose to run the application. Caddy uses two host locations to persistently read and write configuration data. To run Caddy, the application needs at least two host locations to store cached data and configurations. Set up the necessary Caddy host directories as described below.

  1. Create a new Caddy files directory in a location such as /opt

     $ sudo mkdir -p /opt/caddy/
  2. Switch to the directory

     $ cd /opt/caddy
  3. Create a new Caddy data directory

     $ sudo mkdir data
  4. Create the caddy_config directory

     $ sudo mkdir caddy_config
  5. Create a new Caddy configuration file Caddyfile

     $ sudo touch Caddyfile
  6. Using a text editor such as Nano, edit the file

     $ sudo nano Caddyfile
  7. Add the following Configurations to the file

     :80 {
             respond "The Caddy Configuration Works!!"

    Save and close the file

  8. List files and verify your Caddy files directory structure

     $ ls /opt/caddy


     caddy_config  Caddyfile  data

    Verify that the Caddyfile configuration file, data, and caddy_configdirectories are available.

You have set up the Caddy host files structure. Install Caddy using Docker on your server with Docker CLI or Docker Compose.

Install Caddy Using Docker CLI

  1. Pull the latest Caddy image

     $ docker pull caddy
  2. Install Caddy as a new Docker container with the name caddy

     $ docker run -d -p 80:80 -p 443:443 -p 443:443/udp \
     -v /opt/caddy/Caddyfile:/etc/caddy/Caddyfile \
     -v /opt/caddy/data:/data \
     -v /opt/caddy/caddy_config:/config \
     --name caddy caddy

    Below is a breakdown of the above command:

    • -d: Runs the Docker container in detached mode and enables background operations
    • -p 80:80: Binds the localhost HTTP port 80 to the Caddy container port 80. When running Caddy in with another host application such as Nginx, replace the host port with any custom value such as 9000
    • -p 443:443: Binds the localhost HTTPS port 443 to the Caddy container port 443. 443:443/udp enables HTTP/3 for Caddy operations
    • -v /opt/caddy/Caddyfile:/etc/caddy/Caddyfile: Mounts the host Caddy configuration file Caddyfile to the /etc/caddy/Caddyfile container configuration file. Any changes made to the file sync with the Caddy container
    • -v /opt/caddy/data:/data: Binds the host data directory /opt/caddy/data to the /data Caddy container directory. The data may include TLS/SSL certificates and other important files used by the Caddy web server
    • -v /opt/caddy/caddy_config:/config: Mounts the Caddy container configuration /config data directory to the host /opt/var/caddy/caddy_config directory
  3. View the list of running Docker containers

     $ docker ps


     CONTAINER ID   IMAGE     COMMAND                  CREATED         STATUS         PORTS                                                                                                                       NAMES
     b4e7a3a27f3a   caddy     "caddy run --config …"   4 seconds ago   Up 3 seconds>80/tcp, :::80->80/tcp,>443/tcp, :::443->443/tcp,>443/udp, :::443->443/udp, 2019/tcp   caddy

    Verify that the container is up and running

  4. Using Curl, test access to the Caddy host port

     $ curl

    Verify that your configured Caddy prompt displays in your output:

     The Caddy Configuration Works!!

Install Caddy Using Docker Compose

  1. Verify the installed Docker compose that it's version 2 and above

     $ docker compose version


     Docker Compose version v2.21.0
  2. In your working directory, create a new Docker Compose file caddy-install.yaml

     $ touch caddy-install.yaml
  3. Edit the file

     $ nano caddy-install.yaml
  4. Add the following configurations to the file

     version: "3.9"
         image: caddy:latest
         container_name: caddy
         restart: unless-stopped
           - "80:80"
           - "443:443"
           - "443:443/udp"    
           - caddy-net 
           - /opt/caddy/Caddyfile:/etc/caddy/Caddyfile
           - /opt/caddy/caddy_data:/data
           - /opt/caddy/caddy_config:/config
         external: true
         driver: bridge

    Save and close the file.

    The above Docker compose configuration uses the latest Caddy image and creates a new container with the name caddy. Then, the following declarations configure the application to use the respective values listed below:

    • ports: Binds the host network ports to the respective internal docker network ports. For example, 80:80 binds the host port 80 to the Caddy container port 80.
    • networks: Attaches the Caddy container to the defined internal Docker network caddy-net.
    • volumes: Mounts host directories to the respective Caddy container directories. For example, /opt/caddy/Caddyfile mounts the local Caddy configuration to the /etc/caddy/Caddyfile inside the docker container.
    • volumes: caddy_data: external_data: Defines the data volume as external and prevents volume deletion when you run docker compose down to stop the container.
    • networks: caddy-net: driver: bridge: Creates a new caddy-net network using the Docker bridge driver
  5. Run the Docker Compose file to install Caddy

     $ docker compose -f caddy-install.yaml
  6. View the list of running Docker containers

     $ docker ps

    Your output should look like the one below:

     CONTAINER ID   IMAGE          COMMAND                  CREATED          STATUS          PORTS                                                                                                                       NAMES
     6f64fe1513bb   caddy:latest   "caddy run --config …"   14 minutes ago   Up 14 minutes>80/tcp, :::80->80/tcp,>443/tcp, :::443->443/tcp,>443/udp, :::443->443/udp, 2019/tcp   caddy 

    Verify that the Caddy container is running and available

  7. Using Curl, test access to your Caddy host port

     $ curl


     The Caddy Configuration Works!!

    Verify that Caddy correctly handles the request.

Configure Docker Networking

To enable network communications across different Docker containers, configure Docker networking to allow access from one container to another. Caddy requires a working Docker network bridge to connect to other containers. Set up a new Docker network and attach the running Caddy container to the network bridge as described below.

  1. Create a new Docker network caddy-net

     $ docker network create caddy-net
  2. View the list of Docker networks and verify that it's created

     $ docker network list


     NETWORK ID     NAME            DRIVER    SCOPE
     5866da745c7a   bridge          bridge    local
     4ebed0ed20a2   caddy-net       bridge    local         
  3. Connect the Caddy Docker container to the network

     $ docker network connect caddy-net caddy
  4. View the network information and verify that the Caddy container attaches to the network

     $ docker network inspect caddy-net

    Your output should look like the one below:

     "ConfigOnly": false,
             "Containers": {
                 "4c86469088226a1691ee229002cc535d9cfc002319a8e79229766d120120c074": {
                     "Name": "caddy",
                     "EndpointID": "2af1a90a7c830f1a4e624f88315965dcf7fe341cb03b213a2f1e3c4f0e71e026",
                     "MacAddress": "02:42:ac:15:00:02",
                     "IPv4Address": "",
                     "IPv6Address": ""
             "Options": {},
             "Labels": {}

Expose Docker Applications Using Caddy

To expose Docker containers using Caddy, create reverse proxy records to forward traffic from the host port to the respective application. In this section, create a sample docker application that listens on the internal port 8080, then, set up your Caddyfile configuration and forward connections to the container port.

  1. Using Docker CLI, deploy a sample Nginx application that runs on the internal port 80 and attached to the Caddy network caddy-net

     $ docker run -d -p 80 --name nginx --network caddy-net nginx
  2. View the list of running docker applications and verify that the application is active

     $ docker ps


     CONTAINER ID   IMAGE          COMMAND                  CREATED              STATUS              PORTS                                                                                                                       NAMES
     6ce6ffb3117e   nginx          "/docker-entrypoint.…"   About a minute ago   Up About a minute>80/tcp, :::32768->80/tcp                                                                                     nginx
     4c8646908822   caddy:latest   "caddy run --config …"   4 minutes ago        Up 4 minutes>80/tcp, :::80->80/tcp,>443/tcp, :::443->443/tcp,>443/udp, :::443->443/udp, 2019/tcp   caddy    
  3. View the caddy-net Docker network

     $ docker network inspect caddy-net

    Your output should look like the one below:

     "6ce6ffb3117edacda0b2e687024a0441558b2771bb285f8beb0c7404c922544f": {
                     "Name": "nginx",
                     "EndpointID": "e4617e4a843f7a90fc65b1ad7065e036fb4be4a20d250db860fe4cd1a6d49b40",
                     "MacAddress": "02:42:ac:15:00:03",
                     "IPv4Address": "",
                     "IPv6Address": ""

    Verify that the new docker application attaches to the network

  4. Edit your Caddy configuration file Caddyfile

     $ sudo nano /opt/caddy/Caddyfile
  5. Comment out # any file serving directives. Then, change the configuration to include a reverse_proxy directive with the sample application container name and port as the value

     :80 {
             reverse_proxy nginx:80
             #respond "The Caddy Configuration Works!!"

    Save and close the file.

  6. Reload your Caddy docker configuration to apply changes

     $ docker exec -w /etc/caddy caddy caddy reload
  7. Using Curl, test access to your Caddy host port

     $ curl

    Verify that your deployed docker application correctly handles your request like the one below:

     <!DOCTYPE html>
     <title>Welcome to nginx!</title>
     html { color-scheme: light dark; }
     body { width: 35em; margin: 0 auto;
     font-family: Tahoma, Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; }
     <h1>Welcome to nginx!</h1>
     <p>If you see this page, the nginx web server is successfully installed and
     working. Further configuration is required.</p>

You have exposed a docker application using Caddy. You can expand your configuration file to expose more applications using custom host ports by adding more values to the ports field.


When using Caddy as the main web server application in your Docker environment, configure the host machine firewall to allow incoming traffic to the Caddy network ports. For example, if you are exposing Caddy using the HTTP port 80 and HTTPS port 443, allow both ports to accept incoming requests through the host ports as described below.

  1. Verify the Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW) status on your Docker server

     $ sudo ufw status


     Status: active
     To                         Action      From
     --                         ------      ----
     22/tcp                     ALLOW       Anywhere                  
     22/tcp (v6)                ALLOW       Anywhere (v6)  
  2. Allow the HTTP port 80 through the firewall table

     $ sudo ufw allow 80
  3. Allow the HTTPS port 443

     $ sudo ufw allow 443
  4. Reload the firewall table to save changes

     $ sudo ufw reload

Configure Automatic SSL Certificates

To handle incoming connections over HTTPS, Caddy enables automatic trusted SSL certificates for all configured domain names. To add a new domain name, edit the Caddy configuration file and create new virtual host directives that point to specific resources in your Docker environment. Set up a new sample domain with automatic HTTPS as described below.

  1. Edit your Caddy configuration file

     $ sudo nano /opt/caddy/Caddyfile
  2. Add a new site block for your domain name {
             reverse_proxy nginx:80

    Save and close the file.

    In the above configuration:

    • Creates a new site block with your domain name
    • tls: Sets the email address to associate with your Let's Encrypt account. Replace with your actual email address
    • reverse_proxy nginx:80: Creates a new reverse proxy connection that points to a running docker container attached to the Caddy network in the format [container_name:port]. nginx:80 points to the Nginx container running on the docker port 80

    Your edited Caddy configuration file should look like the one below:

     :80 {
             reverse_proxy nginx:80
             #respond "The Caddy Configuration Works!!"
             reverse_proxy nginx:80
  3. Reload your Caddy configuration to apply changes

     $ docker exec -w /etc/caddy caddy caddy reload
  4. Wait for at least 1 minute for the SSL certificate generation process to complete, then, use a web browser of your choice to access your domain name

    Verify that your request runs and the backend docker application loads correctly using Caddy

    A Successful Caddy Configuration for Docker Applications


When running Caddy using Docker, you may experience challenges in container communications or encounter configuration errors. Depending on the displayed error, fix Caddy runtime errors as described in the steps below.

View Caddy Docker Logs

Run the following command to view the Caddy Docker container logs and investigate the source of any runtime errors

$ docker logs caddy


{"level":"error","ts":1697075331.8155975,"logger":"http.log.error","msg":"dial tcp: lookup nginx on no such host","request":{"remote_ip":"","remote_port":"47222","client_ip":"","proto":"HTTP/1.1","method":"GET","host":"","uri":"/","headers":{"User-Agent":["curl/7.88.1"],"Accept":["*/*"]}},"duration":0.178574085,"status":502,"err_id":"kjvvzmew9","err_trace":"reverseproxy.statusError (reverseproxy.go:1248)"}

In the above output, the Caddy container reports a failed communication to the configured reverse proxy container nginx. To fix the error, verify that the backend container is running and connected to the same network as the Caddy container.

Caddy Format Errors

Depending on your Caddy configuration file, you may receive the following error

Error: Caddyfile:2: Caddyfile input is not formatted; Tip: use '--overwrite' to update your Caddyfile in-place instead of previewing it. Consult '--help' for more options

Fix it by running the caddy fmt command to clean any misconfigurations in your Caddyfile

$ docker exec -w /etc/caddy caddy caddy fmt --overwrite

Reload the Caddy configuration to save changes

$ docker exec -w /etc/caddy caddy caddy reload


In this guide, you have installed and configured Caddy using Docker on a Vultr Cloud Server. Caddy is a modern web server application that you can extend by creating custom images to enhance its functionality. To explore more configuration options, please visit the Caddy documentation.

Next Steps

To enhance the Caddy web server functionality and implement more applications on your Vultr Cloud Server, visit the following guides: