LAMP Docker setup with PHP 8 and MariaDB for Symfony projects

Yet another one?! Well, this blog post is the result of bits and pieces taken from other solutions that didn’t fully work for me, as well as some knowledge and understanding of Docker I gained along the way. I’d like to share it; maybe it will be useful for someone else in this very format.

Well, either my searching skills are getting rusty or my request was too specific while at the same time being pretty basic, or something would crash and break during the build process after following available online tutorials or downloading existing projects… but I couldn’t find a single solution which I could reuse for my exact needs with just a couple of changes in the configuration, so I had to come up with my own.

I’ve decided to use Docker for my local development because different projects I’m working on require different versions of PHP, NodeJS and even different versions of Composer… and switching/upgrading/downgrading those versions whenever I switched my focus on another project became cumbersome. Docker can be really slow, but listing the pros and cons of Docker is not the topic here.

I don’t intend to get into the details of each line of code and explain all used commands. What I can do is encourage you into having a look at this great “Docker for local web development” series where you can learn much more. This was my main resource as well.

Let’s get started

All my new projects will be using PHP 8 because of some great features I’d like to exploit which were not there prior to version 8. I think it’s worth using the latest versions when starting fresh, so that’s the stack I’m dealing with. Symfony 5.2 includes support for PHP 8 attributes to define routes and required dependencies, and that’s one more argument in favor of it. I’ll also use Apache for the server and MariaDB for the database. On top of my Symfony project, I’ll add PhpMyAdmin to save me some trouble when manually dealing with DB stuff.

I intend to have multiple projects locally with this exact stack, so I had to come up with something simple enough and reusable to get me started quickly, but something I can build on top of and extend when necessary.

Prerequisites are installed Docker and Docker Compose (which, depending on your platform, might be a part of the Docker installation). If you’re using Windows, make sure you have the WSL2 feature enabled.

Folder structure overview

Maybe it will be easier to follow if I provide the final folder structure first, so here it is:

├── codebase/
├── docker/
│   ├── db/
│   │   └── mariadb/
│   │       └── my.cnf
│   └── server/
│       ├── apache/
│       │   └── sites-enabled/
│       │       └── site.conf
│       ├── php/
│       │   └── php.ini
│       └── Dockerfile
├── .env
└── docker-compose.yml

All folder names are arbitrary. Make sure, if you’re going to rename them, to rename them accordingly in the configurations.

codebase folder will hold all our project code. Since this will be a Symfony app, we will have a public folder with an index.php file within it and that’s what we’ll rely on throughout the setup. For starters, the codebase folder is empty.

In .env file, we’ll have project-level Docker environment variables. As a part of this guide, I will not configure the local machine’s hosts file to make site access more user-friendly, but will access it over localhost:[PORT]. You must make sure that the port is not occupied already and map available ports from your local machine to the container’s port 80. In the same manner, I’ll map a port for PhpMyAdmin. Stick with some convention and be consistent.

E.G. use ports 8101 and 8102 for project A, 8103 and 8104 for project B and so on… The same applies to the DB port. You might already have default port 3306 occupied on your local machine.

I’m using APP_NAME variable to avoid some extra copy-pasting in the configurations, but that’s completely up to you.
MYSQL_* config variables are pretty self-explanatory.

Here’s what my .env file looks like:




docker-compose.yml YAML file is where our services are defined and based on it, Docker Compose will take care of building the images and starting the containers. We will connect all our services to the internal network symfony_project_2021_net, which is also defined in docker-compose.yml.

We will use 3 services:

  1. server
  2. db_server
  3. db_admin
version: '3.9'


      context: .
      dockerfile: ./docker/server/Dockerfile
    container_name: '${APP_NAME}-server'
      - '${APP_PORT}:80'
    working_dir: /var/www/html
      - 'DATABASE_URL=mysql://${MYSQL_USER}:${MYSQL_PASS}@db_server:3306/${MYSQL_DB}?serverVersion=10.5'
      - ./codebase:/var/www/html
      - ./docker/server/apache/sites-enabled:/etc/apache2/sites-enabled
      - ./docker/server/php/php.ini:/usr/local/etc/php/conf.d/extra-php-config.ini
        condition: service_healthy
      - symfony_project_2021_net

    image: mariadb:10.5.9
    container_name: '${APP_NAME}-db'
    restart: always
      - '${DB_PORT}:3306'
      - db_data:/var/lib/mysql
      - ./docker/db/mariadb/my.cnf:/etc/mysql/conf.d/my.cnf
      test: mysqladmin ping -h -u root --password=$$MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD
      interval: 5s
      retries: 5
      - symfony_project_2021_net

    image: phpmyadmin/phpmyadmin:5
    container_name: '${APP_NAME}-db-admin'
      - '${APP_DB_ADMIN_PORT}:80'
      PMA_HOST: db_server
        condition: service_healthy
      - db_admin_data:/var/www/html
      - symfony_project_2021_net


We’ll use official Docker images for building db_server and db_admin containers. You can find the official (and many other) container images on Docker Hub.


We’ll use our own Dockerfile to specify what the server image looks like.
Content of /docker/server/Dockerfile:

FROM php:8.0-apache

RUN a2enmod rewrite

RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y git unzip zip

WORKDIR /var/www/html

COPY --from=mlocati/php-extension-installer /usr/bin/install-php-extensions /usr/local/bin/
RUN install-php-extensions gd pdo_mysql bcmath zip intl opcache

COPY --from=composer:2.0 /usr/bin/composer /usr/local/bin/composer

Docker PHP extension installer script will install all the required APT/APK packages. At the end of the script execution, packages that are no longer needed will be removed, so the image will be much smaller. Using docker-php-ext-install didn’t always work for me, so I’m pulling this extra script. You can expand the list of extensions to install, if necessary. After that, we’ll also pull the Composer. What do you think about setting up a separate container for Composer?

Content of our local folder codebase will be considered a volume mapped to /var/www/html, which is the project root.


Site is defined on Apache side, in docker/server/apache/sites-enabled/site.conf:

<VirtualHost *:80>
  DocumentRoot /var/www/html/public
  <Directory /var/www/html/public>
      AllowOverride None
      Order Allow,Deny
      Allow from All

      <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
          Options -MultiViews
          RewriteEngine On
          RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
          RewriteRule ^(.*)$ index.php [QSA,L]

Again, this is Symfony-specific (something very similar would be used for Laravel projects as well).


Finally, there are some extra configurations for PHP and MariaDB in /docker/server/php/php.ini and /docker/db/mariadb/my.cnf, respectively.
You can configure and overwrite defaults in those files if necessary.

upload_max_filesize = 30M
post_max_size = 80M
short_open_tag = Off
memory_limit =  256M
collation-server = utf8mb4_unicode_ci
character-set-server = utf8mb4

We’ll use named volumes to persist data. We need such volumes because, without them, every time the DB service container is destroyed the database is destroyed with it. This is what that final section in docker-compose.yml is for. Volumes are referenced in db_server and db_admin services.

Order in which containers are started is important and that’s what we’ve set with depends_on.

Specifying environment server variables is also completely up to you; you’re free to use another .env file in the Symfony project root folder. DATABASE_URL variable is Symfony-specific, and if you display it on the server, you should get

Variables defined like this will have precedence over those defined in .env files (in Symfony project root folder). You can do the same thing for the Laravel project.


In your terminal, run docker-compose up -d –build to start the containers. The process will take some time, but only the first time you’re building containers.

After this is done, check your containers by running docker-compose ps in the terminal.

Also, in Docker Desktop app you should see:

Everything from now on should be a walk in the park. Or that’s what I thought when following all online resources I could find 😃

Execute Bash on server container (where server is the name you’ve given to container) by running docker-compose exec server bash.

We’ve set our working directory on the server to /var/www/html. While at it, run composer create-project symfony/website-skeleton. If you prefer, you can install the Symfony installer as well (add it to Dockerfile). This will install the Symfony project. It’s important that you do this directly on the server because your local Composer and PHP versions might be different and you could run into compatibility issues.

Now check http://localhost:8101/ and http://localhost:8102/. Your site and PhpMyAdmin should be available!