Blog Software

Setting up a WordPress staging system with docker

I wanted a WordPress staging system to play around with new plugins, new WordPress versions, and PHP versions.

The primary goals of my mini-project were:

  • Have a staging system for WordPress available for testing new WordPress versions and Plugins
  • Enhance the Performance of the actual WordPress Blog

How can we do it?

Here is a network diagram of the current system setup.

OK, the ideas were quite clear. Now we need a migration plan. And this looks like that:

  1. Install Raspian on the RPi5 SSD, with the Raspberry Pi imager
  2. Install docker and Portainer on the RPi5, based on the Heise description
  3. Install the following docker containers via „docker compose“
    1. Nginx Reverse Proxy
    2. Maria DB for WordPress Staging 
    3. WordPress Staging
    4. Maria DB for WordPress Production
    5. WordPress Production
    6. (Setting up Home Assistant also as a docker container is not a good idea as we lose the functionality of Add-Ons)
  4. With the current live system I’m doing a regular backup via Updraft, so let’s import these backups into the two WordPress instances
  5. At the DNS provider define the new subdomains and route them also to the Dynamic DNS provider
  6. Configure the NPM (Nginx Proxy Manager) with these domains and define the forwarding to the different instances
    1. Setup SSL via Let’s encrypt 
    2. Add also the local Home Assistant server/Port as the target
  7. Reconfigure the port forwarding of the router to the NPM
  8. Shutdown the old RPi4

So, let’s dive a little bit deeper into the different steps.

Configure the new RPi5 hardware and software

OK, let’s get the first new hardware, which means the new high-performance RPi5.

It took some time to be available on the market and the announced performance numbers looked promising.

As the power supply is quite strong I attached directly a SSD drive to the USB3 port.

So no need anymore for a USB hub!

Installing the latest Rasbian operating system on the SSD was pretty easy using the Raspian Imager.

I also configured the SSH access for it, of course.

So, how are we going further?

Install docker on the RPi5

As I wanted to run a WordPress life system and a WordPress staging system in my local network, I thought it would be a good idea to go with:

  • Docker to run multiple images/containers
  • Nginx Reverse Proxy to manage/route the traffic to/from these containers to the outside world

Install the docker containers

  • Setup a docker network manually
docker network create dockerwp 
  • Create a directory for wp_prod, wp_staging, nginx
  • Define a file for common parameters used as anonymized volumes in the docker containers
  • Create docker-compose.yml for the Nginx Proxy
    image: 'jc21/nginx-proxy-manager:latest'
    container_name: nginx-proxy
    restart: unless-stopped
      # These ports are in format <host-port>:<container-port>
      - '80:80' # Public HTTP Port
      - '443:443' # Public HTTPS Port
      - '81:81' # Admin Web Port
      # Add any other Stream port you want to expose
      # - '21:21' # FTP

    # Uncomment the next line if you uncomment anything in the section
    # environment:
      # Uncomment this if you want to change the location of
      # the SQLite DB file within the container
      # DB_SQLITE_FILE: "/data/database.sqlite"

      # Uncomment this if IPv6 is not enabled on your host
      # DISABLE_IPV6: 'true'

      - ./data:/data
      - ./letsencrypt:/etc/letsencrypt

    external: true
  • Create docker-compose.yml for the MariaDB and the WordPress container (one for the staging and one for the production system)
    image: mariadb:11.3.2
    container_name: prod_db
      MARIADB_DATABASE: "wordpress"
      MARIADB_USER: "wordpress"
      MARIADB_PASSWORD: "secret"
      - 'mysqldb0:/var/lib/mysql'
    restart: always
      -  mysqldb0

    image: wordpress:6.5.3
    container_name: prod_wp
      WORDPRESS_DB_HOST: "mysqldb0"
      WORDPRESS_DB_USER: "wordpress"
      WORDPRESS_DB_NAME: "wordpress"
        define('AUTOMATIC_UPDATER_DISABLED', true);

      - 'wordpress0:/var/www/html/wp-content'
      - '../uploads.ini:/usr/local/etc/php/conf.d/uploads.ini'
    restart: always
      - "8001:80"
      - mysqldb0
      - mysqldb0
      - dockerwp


    internal: true
    external: true

Setup the WordPress content

As I backed up the WordPress blog site with updraft, we are restoring the backup to the new WordPress staging and WordPress production system, respectively.

Configure the Sub-Domains

Go to your DNS provider and configure the new Sub-domains with a CNAME entry.

If you have a dynamic IP address, route the Sub-Domain entries to the same Dynamic DNS entry of your DynDNS Provider.

Configure the NPM

Define the target of the routing for all the Sub-Domains, e.g. the Ports of your WordPress containers.

Let the Sub-Domain for the Home Assistant point to the separate HA RPi3.

Add the SSL certificates from Let’s Encrypt.

Additional configuration for the Home Assistant

We must add the following configuration steps to make the Home Assistant run with an external Sub Domain, based on ademalidurmus.

1.) At the NPM, enter the following entry in the advanced config for the Home Assistant Host.

location / {
        proxy_pass    ;
        proxy_set_header        Host            $host;
        proxy_redirect          http://         https://;
        proxy_set_header        Authorization   $http_authorization;
        proxy_pass_header       Authorization;
        proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header Connection “upgrade”;

In the Home Assistant configuration.yml file add:

    - https://public.domain.tld # my public domain
  use_x_forwarded_for: true
    - # nginx proxy manager internal IP adress

At the „Home Assistant URL“ page enter:

Internet: [External Domain]
Local network: [Internal IP]:8123

Reconfigure the Port forwarding at your router

The Ports 80 for HTTP and 443 for HTTPS must now be reconfigured to forward the traffic from these two ports to the NPM.

Here is the network diagram of the new setup.

WordPress staging system with docker

Let’s now check our goals from the beginning. Did we reach them?

  • Have a staging system for WordPress available for testing new versions and Plugins: Available
  • Enhance Performance of the actual WordPress Blog: Super fast!

Von Gerhard Vogt

Born in Munich, but living more then 10 years now in the lovely Stuttgart area.
Grown up in a technical environment, moved then into the project and people management.
I'm interested in plenty of outdoor sports like sailing, biking, skiing, hiking, but also ball sports like tennis and badminton.
Travelling the world, and making photos is another hobby.
Never get bored! :-)

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