JEE application with Docker + Glassfish + JavaDB (Derby)

With Docker it’s easy to develop applications in an isolated, deterministic and secure environment. So let’s see how we can leverage Docker features to develop JEE applications.

We will see how to create a container that features Glassfish (the reference implementation for JEE application servers) and it’s default database JavaDB (Derby).

To simply test how it works on a sample project you can use this one:

Docker + Glassfish + JavaDB


  1. install docker on your OS (of course Linux is king).
  2. compile the war of your JEE application (if you happen to use maven it should be: mvn compile war:war). To simplify this guide I’ll refer to this .war as “example-0.0.1-SNAPSHOT.war”.
  3. create a folder and put there the resulting “example-0.0.1-SNAPSHOT.war” and the below described files “” and “Dockerfile”.
  4. open a terminal in this folder and execute docker build -t example-IMAGE . to build the docker image described in “Dockerfile”.
  5. execute docker run --name example-CONTAINER -p 8080:8080 -p 4848:4848 -i -t example-IMAGE to start a container based on the created image
  6. That’s all folks!

Docker image files

The Dockerfile (saved in a file called “Dockerfile”) looks like this:

FROM glassfish # official Docker Glassfish image
# ADD WAR (change it accordingly to the name of your .war file)
ADD example-0.0.1-SNAPSHOT.war /usr/local/glassfish4/glassfish/domains/domain1/autodeploy/
ADD /home/
RUN chmod +x /home/
CMD /home/
# EXPOSE CONTAINER PORTS (8080 for the JEE application and 4848 for the Glassfish admin area)
EXPOSE 8080 4848

The script to setup and initialize Glassfish (saved in a file called “”) looks like this:

# change password (it's horrible, but gf seems to accept as password parameters files only...)
AS_ADMIN_NEWPASSWORD=password" >> /home/gf-password.txt
asadmin --user=admin --passwordfile=/home/gf-password.txt change-admin-password --domain_name domain1
rm /home/gf-password.txt
# enable secure area
asadmin start-domain
echo "AS_ADMIN_PASSWORD=password" >> /home/gf-password.txt
asadmin --user=admin --passwordfile=/home/gf-password.txt enable-secure-admin
rm /home/gf-password.txt
asadmin --user=admin stop-domain
# finally start db and glassfish
asadmin start-database
asadmin start-domain -v

Additional informations

  • project example url is “http://localhost:8080/example-0.0.1-SNAPSHOT/”
  • GF admin area url “https://localhost:4848/” (user: “admin” and password: “password”)
  • to ssh into the container execute docker exec -i -t class-example-CONTAINER /bin/bash
    tip: exploded project in the container is located here: “/usr/local/glassfish4/glassfish/domains/domain1/applications/example-0.0.1-SNAPSHOT”


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