Docker Instances

A Docker instance is the term used to refer to an instance created on a Docker node. These instances exist within their own Docker containers, with the lifecycle of Docker containers being tied to the instance it was created for.

Note about prerequisities of examples used in this part:

  • payaraDas and dockerHost1 are hostnames known to local naming service (or you can use IP addresses)

  • DAS is listening on port 4848 on payaraDas

  • Docker is listening on port 2376 on dockerHost1

  • DAS can access http://dockerHost1:2376

  • Docker containers can access https://payaraDas:4848

  • user is on payaraDas

  • there are no Docker containers yet, no Docker nodes and no instances registered in the DAS

  • in /app/passwordfile.txt on payaraDas is at least one line with a correct password: AS_ADMIN_PASSWORD=admin123

  • in /app/passwordfile-docker.txt on dockerHost1 is the same line.

You should avoid to use the payara/server-node:latest tag, because it is changing without warning. If you really have intention to use it, you can retag the image and use your own stable Docker image tag:

>> docker tag payara/server-node:latest payara/server-node:mytag

Managing an Instance

Docker instances are manageable in much the same way as any other instance. Deployment of applications, assignation to Deployment Groups, editing of config, should all be done just as if the instance was a standard SSH or CONFIG instance.

Please note that it is required that secure-admin be enabled for Docker instances to start (which is why a passwordfile is mandatory when creating a Docker node).

Creating an Instance

There are two ways how to create a Payara Docker instance belonging to a Domain Administration Server (DAS). You can create a Docker container node and instances on it using the DAS, but you can also create a Docker container with a temporary node and instance directly from Docker. These two use cases differ a bit in their lifecycles.

From Domain Administration Server

Creating a Docker instance is done in exactly the same way as when creating a normal one. You will create a Docker node and then you can create one or more Payara Server instances on it. The Payara DAS will use the same version of the Docker container as the DAS by default.

>> asadmin --passwordfile /app/passwordfile.txt create-node-docker --nodehost dockerHost1 --dockerpasswordfile /app/passwordfile-docker.txt --dockerport 2376 DockerNode1
Command create-node-docker executed successfully.

>> asadmin --passwordfile /app/passwordfile.txt create-instance --node DockerNode1 DockerInstance1
Port Assignments for server instance DockerInstance1:

Successfully registered instance with DAS, now attempting to create Docker container...
Command create-instance executed successfully.

When you invoke these commands, a Docker container of the name DockerInstance1 will be created. If a Docker container of the same name already exists, the create-instance command will fail, and Payara Server will attempt to unregister the instance from the DAS.

When autonaming is enabled, Payara Server will only attempt to resolve conflicts with instance names - it will not attempt to resolve conflicts in container name.
This type of instance is completely managed by the DAS - when you delete it, it will be deleted also the Docker container including it’s logs.

From Docker

Payara Server Community supports creating instances from Docker itself, making use of the auto-naming feature to resolve any conflicts. The docker container create command creates a Payara Docker container without any contact with the DAS. This is also the reason why Docker container has different name than the Payara instance - they have different contexts and it is not possible to avoid naming conflicts, only to minimize them.

You can also specify an existing Docker node name in PAYARA_NODE_NAME property (and ideally also DOCKER_CONTAINER_IP) and/or Deployment Group in PAYARA_DEPLOYMENT_GROUP property, then the Docker instance will be created as if it would be created from the DAS, except the fact that the DAS will be informed about that later with the first startup of the new Docker container.

If the property was not specified or the node does not exist, a temporary Docker node and instance will be created on the DAS. The temporary Docker node is bound to the instance, so when you delete the instance, the temporary Docker node will be deleted too. This type of node is also not listed in the DAS or offered in inputs and cannot be edited.

If the instance running on a temporary Docker node is stopped from the DAS, it is immediately unregistered from the DAS. The next start of the same Docker container creates new a Payara Server Instance and a new temporary Docker node again despite the fact that it uses the same Docker container.

If the Docker containers are stopped externally to Payara (ie. by the docker command), the node and instance will be marked for deletion and cleaned up on shutdown of the DAS.

>> docker container create --network host --mount type=bind,source="/app/passwordfile-docker.txt",target="/pathInDocker/passwordfile.txt",readonly -e PAYARA_DAS_HOST=payaraDas -e PAYARA_DAS_PORT=4848 -e PAYARA_PASSWORD_FILE=/pathInDocker/passwordfile.txt payara/server-node:mytag

>> docker start 994e6d5db276

>> docker logs 994e6d5db276
Docker Container ID is: 994e6d5db276304843481601932857fa224dfd9f9cda8578f3b09f8f11bf6004
No Docker container IP override given, setting to first result from 'hostname -I'
Hostname is
Docker Container IP is:
No Instance name given.
No node name given.
WARNING: Could not find a matching Docker Node: Creating a temporary node specific to this container - cleanup of this container cannot be done by Payara Server
Creating a temporary node with an autogenerated name.
./payara5/bin/asadmin -I false -T -a -H payaraDas -p 4848 -W /pathInDocker/passwordfile.txt _create-node-temp --nodehost
Running command create-local-instance:
./payara5/bin/asadmin -I false -T -a -H payaraDas -p 4848 -W /pathInDocker/passwordfile.txt create-local-instance --node Sarcastic-Catfish --dockernode true --ip
Setting Docker Container ID for instance Cooperative-Spookfish: 994e6d5db276304843481601932857fa224dfd9f9cda8578f3b09f8f11bf6004
./payara5/bin/asadmin -I false -H payaraDas -p 4848 -W /pathInDocker/passwordfile.txt _set-docker-container-id --instance Cooperative-Spookfish --id 994e6d5db276304843481601932857fa224dfd9f9cda8578f3b09f8f11bf6004
Command _set-docker-container-id executed successfully.
Starting instance Cooperative-Spookfish
Don’t forget that you are configuring connection to DAS from the viewpoint of the instance container, so configure also the Docker networking appropriately.

Starting and Stopping an Instance

Instances on temporary Docker nodes have their lifecycle bound to a started container. So from the DAS point of view they are started or do not exist.

Starting a Docker instance on standard Docker node should be done just as if it were an instance on an SSH node. When the asadmin start-instance command is invoked, the DAS will contact the Docker Rest API as configured in the node config, and start the Docker container and the instance within it.

If the command hangs, the Docker instance probably failed to start. Use the docker logs command to see what happened.
>> asadmin --passwordfile /app/passwordfile.txt start-instance DockerInstance1
Command start-instance executed successfully.

>> asadmin --passwordfile /app/passwordfile.txt stop-instance DockerInstance1
The instance, DockerInstance1, is stopped.
Command stop-instance executed successfully.

Deleting an Instance

Much as with when creating a standard Docker instance, deleting a Docker instance is done in the same way as other instances: with the asadmin delete-instance command. This will unregister the instance from the DAS, and delete the Docker container.

Containers on temporary Docker nodes are not deleted by the DAS, they will be only stopped and removed from the DAS management including the temporary Docker node. The container management is controlled by the Docker.

>> asadmin --passwordfile /app/passwordfile.txt delete-instance DockerInstance1
Successfully removed instance DockerInstance1 from the DAS configuration, and removed the container from node DockerNode1 (dockerHost1).
Command delete-instance executed successfully.
if you would delete the container directly with the docker command, the DAS would not know it. Such inconsistency can be resolved only by deletion of the instance from the DAS. This is automatically done on DAS restart.

Configuring the Docker Container

Configuration of the Docker containers is done via system properties in an instances config (and so can be shared across multiple instances).

A complete list of the available configuration options can be found in the Docker Engine REST API here:

The image name is not configurable - Payara Server expects the image name to match the value from the node config

The configuration within Payara Server Community of the settings denoted in the above link takes the form of dotted names. These names adhere to the following syntax:

  • Each property is prepended with "Docker"

  • Each child object is specified individually, with all of its parents prepended to it

  • Arrays must be surrounded with square braces

  • Array values are separated using the vertical bar symbol "|"

  • The colon character is used to denote the value of an object within an array

  • Objects within an array are separated using a comma

Properties that are denoted by arrays of objects containing further objects or arrays are not currently supported. The Env property is unique in that the colon character is used to denote the equals sign, as Payara Server does not currently support properties that contain an equals in their value.

See below for some examples:

Example Original JSON Payara System Properties

Arrays must be surrounded with square braces & array values separated using the vertical bar symbol "|"

{ENV: [arg1=foo,arg2=bar]}


Each child object of a parent object is specified individually

{HostConfig: {Memory: 2048, CpuShares: 3}

Docker.HostConfig.Memory=2048 Docker.HostConfig.CpuShares=3

The colon character is used to denote the value of an object within an array & objects within an array are separated using a comma

{HostConfig: {BlkioDeviceReadBps: [{Path: /opt/foo, Rate: 24},{Path: /opt/bar, Rate: 48}]}


Reserved Environment Properties

The following Docker Environment properties are used by the default Docker image, payara/server-node, which you may wish to override to match your configuration (particularly if creating containers directly from Docker):

Environment Property Use Default Value


The IP address or hostname of the Domain Administration Server that the instance will register itself to.



The port that the Domain Administration Server is running on



The name of the node that the instance should be created on.



The name of the instance to be created.



The name of the config that the created instance should use.



The IP address or hostname that the Docker Container should use. This is used for verifying that a given node’s network config maps to this container, or for when creating new nodes and instances.

First result of hostname -I (all IP addresses, excluding loopback)


The name of the Deployment Group that the instance should join. Once the instance joins the Deployment Group, all the application targeted at the Deployment Group will automatically deploy to it.


The DAS expects to be able to talk to each instance using the port listed in its config. Don’t forget to properly configure used networks.

Other examples

Creating a container using the Docker REST API

Note: you can alternatively create a json file and then use curl syntax for sending files (ie. @create.json).

>> curl -H 'Accept: application/json' -H 'Content-Type: application/json' -i 'http://dockerHost1:2376/containers/create?name=ManagedContainer2' --data '{
  "Image": "payara/server-node:mytag",
  "HostConfig": {
    "Mounts": [
        "Type": "bind",
        "Source": "/app/passwordfile-docker.txt",
        "Target": "/opt/payara/passwords/passwordfile.txt",
        "ReadOnly": true
    "NetworkMode": "host"
  "Env": [

HTTP/1.1 201 Created
Api-Version: 1.39
Content-Type: application/json
Docker-Experimental: false
Ostype: linux
Server: Docker/18.09.7 (linux)
Date: Mon, 04 Nov 2019 13:15:13 GMT
Content-Length: 90


>> curl -i 'http://dockerHost1:2376/containers/ManagedContainer2/start' --data ''
HTTP/1.1 204 No Content
Api-Version: 1.39
Docker-Experimental: false
Ostype: linux
Server: Docker/18.09.7 (linux)
Date: Mon, 04 Nov 2019 13:17:15 GMT

Creating a container with a set instance name, resolving conflicts

>> docker container create --network host --mount type=bind,source="/app/passwordfile-docker.txt",target="/pathInDocker/passwordfile.txt",readonly -e PAYARA_DAS_HOST=payaraDas -e PAYARA_DAS_PORT=4848 -e DOCKER_CONTAINER_IP=dockerHost1 -e PAYARA_PASSWORD_FILE=/pathInDocker/passwordfile.txt -e PAYARA_NODE_NAME=DockerNode1 -e PAYARA_INSTANCE_NAME=ManagedContainer2 payara/server-node:mytag

>> docker start af48bec58c14

>> docker logs af48bec58c14
Docker Container ID is: af48bec58c144bad8ac83c9344dcebc4b9a6d528dd8673a6e6f5275e8b3ed2a2
Docker Container IP is: dockerHost1
Instance name provided, but local file system for instance missing, checking if file system or new instance needs to be created.
Checking if an instance with name ManagedContainer2 has been registered with the DAS
./payara5/bin/asadmin -I false -t -H payaraDas -p 4848 -W /pathInDocker/passwordfile.txt list-instances --nostatus ManagedContainer2
Found an instance with name ManagedContainer2 registered to the DAS, checking if registered Docker Container ID matches this container's ID
./payara5/bin/asadmin -I false -t -H payaraDas -p 4848 -W /pathInDocker/passwordfile.txt _get-docker-container-id --instance ManagedContainer2
Registered Docker Container ID is: e7803ce3ec964805c41d8a0eef5838299b5b8d38aa9e0801f05f3bc56b8d5fa1
Docker Container IDs do not match, creating a new instance.
Node name provided, checking if node details match this container.
Node with matching name found, checking node details.
Node Host of matching node is nodes.node.DockerNode1.node-host=dockerHost1
Node details match, no need to create a new node.
Running command create-local-instance:
./payara5/bin/asadmin -I false -T -a -H payaraDas -p 4848 -W /pathInDocker/passwordfile.txt create-local-instance --node DockerNode1 --dockernode true --ip dockerHost1 ManagedContainer2
Setting Docker Container ID for instance ManagedContainer2-PerfectZiege: af48bec58c144bad8ac83c9344dcebc4b9a6d528dd8673a6e6f5275e8b3ed2a2
./payara5/bin/asadmin -I false -H payaraDas -p 4848 -W /pathInDocker/passwordfile.txt _set-docker-container-id --instance ManagedContainer2-PerfectZiege --id af48bec58c144bad8ac83c9344dcebc4b9a6d528dd8673a6e6f5275e8b3ed2a2
Command _set-docker-container-id executed successfully.
Starting instance ManagedContainer2-PerfectZiege


>> docker ps -a
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                              COMMAND                  CREATED             STATUS              PORTS               NAMES
af48bec58c14        payara/server-node:mytag   "/opt/payara/entrypo…"   3 minutes ago       Up 2 minutes                            gentle_piranha
e7803ce3ec96        payara/server-node:mytag   "/opt/payara/entrypo…"   7 minutes ago       Up 5 minutes                            ManagedContainer2
994e6d5db276        payara/server-node:mytag   "/opt/payara/entrypo…"   16 minutes ago      Up 15 minutes                           musing_euclid

>> docker images payara/server-node
REPOSITORY           TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE
payara/server-node   pandrex191104       386a996b3649        About an hour ago   511MB
payara/server-node   dmatej191104        27fadc4f48ca        5 hours ago         511MB
payara/server-node   5.193.1             f5cf02e10dc2        4 weeks ago         525MB
payara/server-node   latest              f5cf02e10dc2        4 weeks ago         525MB
payara/server-node   mytag               f5cf02e10dc2        4 weeks ago         525MB

>> asadmin --passwordfile /app/appservers/passwordfile.txt list-nodes
localhost-domain1  CONFIG  localhost
DockerNode1  DOCKER  dockerHost1
Command list-nodes executed successfully.

>> asadmin --passwordfile /app/appservers/passwordfile.txt list-instances
Cooperative-Spookfish            running
ManagedContainer2                running
ManagedContainer2-PerfectZiege   running
Command list-instances executed successfully.