Installation and Deployment

The SODAR Docker Compose environment is the recommended method of installing SODAR, both for trying it out locally and for deploying in production. This environment will install and run all required SODAR components as a configurable Docker Compose network.

SODAR Environment

The following SODAR components are included in the SODAR Docker Compose environment. All these components are required for running the complete feature set of SODAR. However, it is also possible to run some of these outside of the Docker Compose network if e.g. you already have a separate iRODS server running.

  • Essential SODAR Components
    • sodar-web: The SODAR web server for main program logic and UIs.

    • sodar-celeryd-default: Celery daemon for background jobs.

    • sodar-celerybeat: Celery service for periodic tasks.

  • Database Servers
    • postgres: PostgreSQL server for SODAR and iRODS databases.

    • redis: In-memory database for Celery jobs and caching.

  • iRODS Servers
    • irods: An iRODS iCAT server for file storage.

    • davrods: iRODS WebDAV server for web access and IGV/UCSC integration.

  • Networking
    • traefik: Reverse proxy for TLS/SSL routing.

    • sssd: System Security Service Daemon for LDAP/AD authentication.


Currently the sodar-docker-compose environment only supports iRODS v4.2. Support for v4.3 is being worked on. iRODS v4.3 will be the default supported version from SODAR v1.0 onwards.

Quickstart Guide

For a guide on how to try out and evaluate SODAR on your Linux workstation, see the README file of the sodar-docker-compose repository.

Installation Guide

This section provides more detailed information on setting up SODAR as a Docker Compose network.


Ensure your system matches the following operating system and software requirements.

  • Hardware
    • ~10 GB of disk space for the Docker images

  • Operating System
    • A modern Linux distribution that is supported by Docker.

    • Outgoing HTTPS connections to the internet are allowed to download data and Docker images.

    • Server ports 80 and 443 are open and free on the host.

  • Software

1. Clone the Repository

Clone the sodar-docker-compose repository as follows:

$ git clone
$ cd sodar-docker-compose

Alternatively, fork the repository as a first step so you can track changes that you make using Git.

2. Initialize Volumes

Use the provided script to create required directories.

$ ./
$ ls volumes

The volumes directory is used for data storage, while the subdirectories under config point to directories containing configuration files for images in the network. Some of the configuration directories already exist in the repository.

3. Provide Certificate and DH Parameters

To enable all SODAR features, TLS/SSL connections over HTTPS connections are required. SODAR Docker Compose uses Traefik as a reverse proxy for the web-based SODAR services. iRODS must also be able to access certificate files directly.

For instructions on how to generate certificates with OpenSSL in Ubuntu, see here. If using a different Linux distribution, consult the relevant documentation.

Place your certificates under config/traefik/tls/ as server.crt and server.key. If you need to use different filenames or path, make sure to edit the .env and ensure Traefik, iRODS and Davrods can all access the files. Make sure to provide the full certificate chain if needed. Self-signed certificates can be used for evaluation and testing.

$ cp yourcert.crt config/traefik/tls/server.crt
$ cp yourcert.key config/traefik/tls/server.key
$ chmod +r config/traefik/tls/server.key

iRODS also excepts a dhparams.pem file for Diffie-Hellman key exchange. You can generate the file using OpenSSL as demonstrated below.

$ openssl dhparam -2 -out config/irods/etc/dhparams.pem 2048

4. Configure the Environment

Copy the included env.example file into a new file called .env and adjust the default settings if needed.

$ cp env.example .env

See SODAR Settings for detailed descriptions of SODAR web server settings. Note that in the Docker Compose environment, settings specific to the SODAR web server are prefixed with SODAR_*. This does not include e.g. iRODS settings commonly used by multiple components.

For more information on iRODS settings, see the iRODS documentation.

Note that for certain settings to take effect, you need to run the Docker Compose network with specific override files. For more on these, see the next section and Advanced Configuration.

5. Bring up SODAR

After configuring you can bring up the Docker network. The full SODAR system, with all critical components running as Docker containers, can be run with the following command:

$ ./

If you have the need to modify the default configuration, you can alternatively launch the network with the docker compose up command with appropriate parameters:

$ docker compose -f docker-compose.yml \
    -f docker-compose.override.yml.irods \
    -f docker-compose.override.yml.davrods \
    -f docker-compose.override.yml.provided-cert \

As the main entrypoint to the system, this will run the SODAR web server which listens on ports 80 and 443. Make sure that these ports are open. The console output will display the status of each image. Once everything has initialized successfully, you can access the SODAR site in your web browser at https://<your-host>/.


For running the system locally on your workstation, you should still set up a fully qualified domain name by editing your /etc/hosts file, the default expected server name being https://sodar.local. This is due to all features not working properly if pointing to localhost.

The aforementioned command will not return you to your shell. You can stop the running servers with Ctrl-C. To run the containers in the background, start it up with the -d flag. If running in the background, you can check the status of your images with docker ps.

The command depicted will run everything in the SODAR system within the Docker Compose network. If you already run some services outside of the network (e.g. an existing iRODS server) and want to connect to them instead, omit the related override(s) and update your .env file to point to the existing resources instead. Similarly, you may add or replace overrides for different desired features. For more information, see Advanced Configuration.

6. Create Superuser Account

To gain access to the SODAR web UI, you must first create a superuser account. The user name should be given as admin, otherwise you will need to edit the .env file. Open a new terminal tab, enter the following and follow the prompt:

$ docker exec -it sodar-docker-compose_sodar-web_1 \
    python /usr/src/app/ createsuperuser \
    --skip-checks --username admin

7. Use SODAR

Once the superuser has been created, you can navigate to the SODAR web UI at https://<your-host>/ and log in with the superuser credentials you provided.

Typically, the first step when logging to a newly installed SODAR site is to create a top level category under which projects can be added. If you are not using an external LDAP service, you can also create additional local users in the Django Admin, which is available in the user dropdown at the top right corner of the UI.

Read further in this section on information regarding administrator user access, admin user interfaces and management commands.

8. Updating the Environment

If you need to update the configuration after initial install, make sure you restart the Docker Compose network after editing the .env file. If you are running the network in the foreground, stop it with Ctrl-C and restart. If the network is running in the background, enter the following:

$ docker compose down && docker compose up -d

For updating all the images to their latest version, run the following:

$ docker compose pull

To only update a specific image, you can do the following:

$ docker compose pull IMAGE-NAME
$ docker compose up -d --no-deps --build IMAGE-NAME

Whenever updating your SODAR environment, it is strongly recommend to ensure your sodar-docker-compose repository is up-to-date with the latest version with the following command:

$ git pull origin main

The main branch of the repository will contain the latest release version of the environment, which corresponds to the latest SODAR server release. If you want to deploy an older version of SODAR than the most recent release, check out the corresponding sodar-docker-compose release according to its git tag.

If you are installing the “bleeding edge” development version of SODAR dev with the dev-0 tag, you should correspondingly use the dev branch version of sodar-docker-compose. Note that these versions may contain breaking changes and/or not yet fully documented features. Deploying the dev version in production is generally recommended only for experienced SODAR admins.


SODAR v1.0 will be upgraded to use iRODS 4.3 and Postgres v16. This version may require special steps for upgrading an existing environment. Make sure to refer to the sodar-docker-compose README for instructions.

Advanced Configuration

Further configuration for specific use cases are described in this section.

Docker Compose Overrides

The following overrides are available for customizing the environment:


iRODS iCAT server run as a Docker image within the network.


Davrods service for WebDAV connections to iRODS. Requires the iRODS iCAT server.


SSSD service providing LDAP/AD logins. Includes the iRODS iCAT server. If you want to include LDAP/AD logins for iRODS, replace the iRODS override with this one.


Traefik settings for a provided certificate. If you have another way of providing certificates, replace this override with your own. Note that in addition to Traefik, iRODS and Davrods will also need access to the certificate files.

LDAP Configuration with SSSD

To enable LDAP/AD logins to SODAR, you need to take the following steps.

First, create a sssd.conf file under config/sssd. You can use the provided sss.conf.example file as a base for editing. The LDAP settings depend on the service used.

Next, edit your .env file. Set the following values:



  • SODAR_AUTH_LDAP_*: Fill according to your LDAP settings.

  • SODAR_ENABLE_LDAP_SECONDARY=1: Optional, if using two LDAP services.

  • SODAR_AUTH_LDAP2_*: Optional, if using two LDAP services.

Finally, bring up the Docker Compose environment with the appropriate override file. Make sure you have -f docker-compose.override.yml.sssd in your startup command.

Deploying in Production

Deploying the SODAR environment in production is mostly considered out of scope for this documentation, as the exact method of deployment depends on your organization’s infrastructure and practices. The sodar-docker-compose environment can be set up for production using e.g. Ansible playbooks. In this section we present certain guidelines and recommendations for deployment.

Production Prerequisites

In addition to the general prerequisites, we recommend the following for a production deployment of SODAR:

  • Recommended Hardware
    • Memory: 64 GB of RAM

    • CPU: 16 cores

    • Disk: 600+ GB of free and fast disk space
      • ~10 GB for the Docker images

      • TODO: Data estimates for actual projects?

General Remarks

When running the environment for the first time, it may take time for the system to start up due to e.g. iRODS installation. If you set up deployment with e.g. Ansible, it is recommended to add wait conditions and checks for the environment to be ready before proceeding with further tasks.