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ecs Container Image

ejabberd is an open-source XMPP server, robust, scalable and modular, built using Erlang/OTP, and also includes MQTT Broker and SIP Service.

This container image allows you to run a single node ejabberd instance in a container.

There is an Alternative Image in GitHub Packages, built using a different method and some improvements.

If you are using a Windows operating system, check the tutorials mentioned in ejabberd Docs > Docker Image.

Start ejabberd

With default configuration

You can start ejabberd in a new container with the following command:

docker run --name ejabberd -d -p 5222:5222 ejabberd/ecs

This command will run the container image as a daemon, using ejabberd default configuration file and XMPP domain "localhost".

To stop the running container, you can run:

docker stop ejabberd

If needed, you can restart the stopped ejabberd container with:

docker restart ejabberd

Start with Erlang console attached

If you would like to start ejabberd with an Erlang console attached you can use the live command:

docker run -it -p 5222:5222 ejabberd/ecs live

This command will use default configuration file and XMPP domain "localhost".

Start with your configuration and database

This command passes the configuration file using the volume feature and shares the local directory to store database:

mkdir database
docker run -d --name ejabberd -v $(pwd)/ejabberd.yml:/home/ejabberd/conf/ejabberd.yml -v $(pwd)/database:/home/ejabberd/database -p 5222:5222 ejabberd/ecs

Next steps

Register the administrator account

The default ejabberd configuration has already granted admin privilege to an account that would be called admin@localhost, so you just need to register such an account to start using it for administrative purposes. You can register this account using the ejabberdctl script, for example:

docker exec -it ejabberd bin/ejabberdctl register admin localhost passw0rd

Check ejabberd log files

Check the ejabberd log file in the container:

docker exec -it ejabberd tail -f logs/ejabberd.log

Inspect the container files

The container uses Alpine Linux. You can start a shell there with:

docker exec -it ejabberd sh

Open ejabberd debug console

You can open a live debug Erlang console attached to a running container:

docker exec -it ejabberd bin/ejabberdctl debug


ejabberd includes two example CAPTCHA scripts. If you want to use any of them, first install some additional required libraries:

docker exec --user root ejabberd apk add imagemagick ghostscript-fonts bash

Now update your ejabberd configuration file, for example:

docker exec -it ejabberd vi conf/ejabberd.yml

and add this option:

captcha_cmd: /home/ejabberd/lib/ejabberd-21.1.0/priv/bin/

Finally, reload the configuration file or restart the container:

docker exec ejabberd bin/ejabberdctl reload_config

If the CAPTCHA image is not visible, there may be a problem generating it (the ejabberd log file may show some error message); or the image URL may not be correctly detected by ejabberd, in that case you can set the correct URL manually, for example:

captcha_url: https://localhost:5443/captcha

For more details about CAPTCHA options, please check the CAPTCHA documentation section.

Use ejabberdapi

When the container is running (and thus ejabberd), you can exec commands inside the container using ejabberdctl or any other of the available interfaces, see Understanding ejabberd "commands"

Additionally, this container image includes the ejabberdapi executable. Please check the ejabberd-api homepage for configuration and usage details.

For example, if you configure ejabberd like this:

    port: 5282
    module: ejabberd_http
      "/api": mod_http_api

      - ::1/128
      - ::FFFF:

  "admin access":
          acl: loopback
      - "register"

Then you could register new accounts with this query:

docker exec -it ejabberd bin/ejabberdapi register --endpoint= --jid=admin@localhost --password=passw0rd

Advanced container configuration


This container image exposes the ports:

  • 5222: The default port for XMPP clients.
  • 5269: For XMPP federation. Only needed if you want to communicate with users on other servers.
  • 5280: For admin interface.
  • 5443: With encryption, used for admin interface, API, CAPTCHA, OAuth, Websockets and XMPP BOSH.
  • 1883: Used for MQTT
  • 4369-4399: EPMD and Erlang connectivity, used for ejabberdctl and clustering


ejabberd produces two types of data: log files and database (Mnesia). This is the kind of data you probably want to store on a persistent or local drive (at least the database).

Here are the volume you may want to map:

  • /home/ejabberd/conf/: Directory containing configuration and certificates
  • /home/ejabberd/database/: Directory containing Mnesia database. You should back up or export the content of the directory to persistent storage (host storage, local storage, any storage plugin)
  • /home/ejabberd/logs/: Directory containing log files
  • /home/ejabberd/upload/: Directory containing uploaded files. This should also be backed up.

All these files are owned by ejabberd user inside the container. Corresponding UID:GID is 9000:9000. If you prefer bind mounts instead of volumes, then you need to map this to valid UID:GID on your host to get read/write access on mounted directories.

Commands on start

The ejabberdctl script reads the CTL_ON_CREATE environment variable the first time the container is started, and reads CTL_ON_START every time the container is started. Those variables can contain one ejabberdctl command, or several commands separated with the blankspace and ; characters.

By default failure of any of commands executed that way would abort start, this can be disabled by prefixing commands with !

Example usage (or check the full example):

      - CTL_ON_CREATE=\! register admin localhost asd
      - CTL_ON_START=stats registeredusers ;
                     check_password admin localhost asd ;


When setting several containers to form a cluster of ejabberd nodes, each one must have a different Erlang Node Name and the same Erlang Cookie. For this you can either: - edit conf/ejabberdctl.cfg and set variables ERLANG_NODE and ERLANG_COOKIE - set the environment variables ERLANG_NODE_ARG and ERLANG_COOKIE

Once you have the ejabberd nodes properly set and running, you can tell the secondary nodes to join the master node using the join_cluster API call.

Example using environment variables (see the full docker-compose.yml clustering example):

  - ERLANG_NODE_ARG=ejabberd@replica
  - ERLANG_COOKIE=dummycookie123
  - CTL_ON_CREATE=join_cluster ejabberd@main

Change Mnesia Node Name

To use the same Mnesia database in a container with a different hostname, it is necessary to change the old hostname stored in Mnesia.

This section is equivalent to the ejabberd Documentation Change Computer Hostname, but particularized to containers that use this ecs container image from ejabberd 23.01 or older.

Setup Old Container

Let's assume a container running ejabberd 23.01 (or older) from this ecs container image, with the database directory binded and one registered account. This can be produced with:


mkdir database
sudo chown 9000:9000 database
docker run -d --name $OLDCONTAINER -p 5222:5222 \
       -v $(pwd)/database:/home/ejabberd/database \
docker exec -it $OLDCONTAINER bin/ejabberdctl started
docker exec -it $OLDCONTAINER bin/ejabberdctl register user1 localhost somepass
docker exec -it $OLDCONTAINER bin/ejabberdctl registered_users localhost

Methods to know the Erlang node name:

ls database/ | grep ejabberd@
docker exec -it $OLDCONTAINER bin/ejabberdctl status
docker exec -it $OLDCONTAINER grep "started in the node" logs/ejabberd.log

Change Mnesia Node

First of all let's store the Erlang node names and paths in variables. In this example they would be:


  1. Start your old container that can still read the Mnesia database correctly. If you have the Mnesia spool files, but don't have access to the old container anymore, go to Create Temporary Container and later come back here.

  2. Generate a backup file and check it was created:

    docker exec -it $OLDCONTAINER bin/ejabberdctl backup $OLDFILE
    ls -l database/*.backup

  3. Stop ejabberd:

    docker stop $OLDCONTAINER

  4. Create the new container. For example:

    docker run \
           --name $NEWCONTAINER \
           -d \
           -p 5222:5222 \
           -v $(pwd)/database:/home/ejabberd/database \

  5. Convert the backup file to new node name:

    docker exec -it $NEWCONTAINER bin/ejabberdctl mnesia_change_nodename $OLDNODE $NEWNODE $OLDFILE $NEWFILE

  6. Install the backup file as a fallback:

    docker exec -it $NEWCONTAINER bin/ejabberdctl install_fallback $NEWFILE

  7. Restart the container:

    docker restart $NEWCONTAINER

  8. Check that the information of the old database is available. In this example, it should show that the account user1 is registered:

    docker exec -it $NEWCONTAINER bin/ejabberdctl registered_users localhost

  9. When the new container is working perfectly with the converted Mnesia database, you may want to remove the unneeded files: the old container, the old Mnesia spool files, and the backup files.

Create Temporary Container

In case the old container that used the Mnesia database is not available anymore, a temporary container can be created just to read the Mnesia database and make a backup of it, as explained in the previous section.

This method uses --hostname command line argument for docker, and ERLANG_NODE_ARG environment variable for ejabberd. Their values must be the hostname of your old container and the Erlang node name of your old ejabberd node. To know the Erlang node name please check Setup Old Container.

Command line example:

docker run \
       -d \
       --name $OLDCONTAINER \
       --hostname $OLDHOST \
       -p 5222:5222 \
       -v $(pwd)/database:/home/ejabberd/database \

Check the old database content is available:

docker exec -it $OLDCONTAINER bin/ejabberdctl registered_users localhost

Now that you have ejabberd running with access to the Mnesia database, you can continue with step 2 of previous section Change Mnesia Node.

Generating ejabberd release


Image is built by embedding an ejabberd Erlang/OTP standalone release in the image.

The configuration of ejabberd Erlang/OTP release is customized with:

  • rel/config.exs: Customize ejabberd release
  • rel/dev.exs: ejabberd environment configuration for development release
  • rel/prod.exs: ejabberd environment configuration for production release
  • vars.config: ejabberd compilation configuration options
  • conf/ejabberd.yml: ejabberd default config file

Build ejabberd Community Server base image from ejabberd master on Github:

docker build -t ejabberd/ecs .

Build ejabberd Community Server base image for a given ejabberd version:

./ 18.03

Composer Examples

Minimal Example

This is the barely minimal file to get a usable ejabberd. Store it as docker-compose.yml:

    image: ejabberd/ecs
    container_name: ejabberd
      - "5222:5222"
      - "5269:5269"
      - "5280:5280"
      - "5443:5443"

Create and start the container with the command:

docker-compose up

Customized Example

This example shows the usage of several customizations: it uses a local configuration file, stores the mnesia database in a local path, registers an account when it's created, and checks the number of registered accounts every time it's started.

Download or copy the ejabberd configuration file:

mv ejabberd.yml.example ejabberd.yml

Create the database directory and allow the container access to it:

mkdir database
sudo chown 9000:9000 database

Now write this docker-compose.yml file:

version: '3.7'


    image: ejabberd/ecs
    container_name: ejabberd
      - CTL_ON_CREATE=register admin localhost asd
      - CTL_ON_START=registered_users localhost ;
      - "5222:5222"
      - "5269:5269"
      - "5280:5280"
      - "5443:5443"
      - ./ejabberd.yml:/home/ejabberd/conf/ejabberd.yml:ro
      - ./database:/home/ejabberd/database

Clustering Example

In this example, the main container is created first. Once it is fully started and healthy, a second container is created, and once ejabberd is started in it, it joins the first one.

An account is registered in the first node when created (and we ignore errors that can happen when doing that - for example when account already exists), and it should exist in the second node after join.

Notice that in this example the main container does not have access to the exterior; the replica exports the ports and can be accessed.

version: '3.7'


    image: ejabberd/ecs
    container_name: main
      - ERLANG_NODE_ARG=ejabberd@main
      - ERLANG_COOKIE=dummycookie123
      - CTL_ON_CREATE=\! register admin localhost asd
      test: netstat -nl | grep -q 5222
      start_period: 5s
      interval: 5s
      timeout: 5s
      retries: 120

    image: ejabberd/ecs
    container_name: replica
        condition: service_healthy
      - "5222:5222"
      - "5269:5269"
      - "5280:5280"
      - "5443:5443"
      - ERLANG_NODE_ARG=ejabberd@replica
      - ERLANG_COOKIE=dummycookie123
      - CTL_ON_CREATE=join_cluster ejabberd@main
      - CTL_ON_START=registered_users localhost ;