Run RESTHeart with Docker

Docker is the best way to run RESTHeart.

Docker Stars Docker Pulls

Quick Start with Docker Compose

Download the example docker-compose.yml

$ mkdir restheart
$ cd restheart
$ curl --output docker-compose.yml

The file docker-compose.yml defines a single microservice made of a RESTHeart and MongoDB instance configured to work together. Start both services just typying:

$ docker-compose up -d

Check that everything is fine:

$ docker-compose ps

       Name                      Command               State                Ports               
restheart-dev         ./ etc/resthe ...   Up      4443/tcp,>8080/tcp 
restheart-dev-mongo   / mongod            Up      27017/tcp   

Tail the logs of both services:

$ docker-compose logs -f

Open the HAL browser

The RESTHeart default admin credentials are

username: admin
password: changeit

Modify the configuration for the RESTHeart container

Download the configuration files restheart.yml and security.yml in the etc directory.

$ mkdir etc
$ curl --output etc/restheart.yml
$ curl --output etc/security.yml

Edit the configuration files as needed. For instance, to change the admin user password edit etc/security.yml as follows:

    - userid: admin
      password: <your-password-here>
      roles: [users, admins]

Uncomment the following line in docker-compose.yml

      ### Uncoment below if you want to mount a local configuration folder
      ### to overwrite default restheart.yml and/or security.yml
         - ./etc:/opt/restheart/etc:ro

Restart the containers:

$ docker-compose stop
$ docker-compose up -d

Docker Image


The latest tag is automatically associated with SNAPSHOT maven builds on master branch. If you really want to run a stable docker image, please always pull a exact version number, like

docker pull softinstigate/restheart:3.2.2


  • The Dockefile is here.

How to Run

This section is useful if you want to run RESTHeart with docker but you already have an existing MongoDB container to connect to. Note that if instead you want to connect to a remote MongoDB instance then you must edit the restheart.yml configuration file and change the mongouri.

mongo-uri: mongodb://<remote-host>

You can then decide to rebuild the container itself with your version of this file or mount the folder as a volume, so that you can override the default configuration files. For example:

$ docker run -d -p 80:8080 --name restheart -v "$PWD"/etc:/opt/restheart/etc:ro softinstigate/restheart`

We strongly recommend to always add the tag to the image (e.g. softinstigate/restheart:3.2.2), so that you are sure which version of RESTHeart you are running.

1) Pull the MongoDB and RESTHeart images

  1. docker pull mongo:3.6
  2. docker pull softinstigate/restheart:3.2.2

2) Run the MongoDB container

docker run -d --name mongodb mongo:3.6

To make it accessible from your host and add a persistent data volume:

docker run -d -p 27017:27017 --name mongodb -v <db-dir>:/data/db mongo:3.6

The <db-dir> must be a folder in your host, such as /var/data/db or whatever you like. If you don’t attach a volume then your data will be lost when you delete the container.

3) Run RESTHeart interactively

Run in foreground, linking to the mongodb instance, mapping the container’s 8080 port to the 80 port on host:

docker run --rm -i -t -p 80:8080 --name restheart --link mongodb softinstigate/restheart

However, you will usually run it in background:

docker run -d -p 80:8080 --name restheart --link mongodb softinstigate/restheart

4) Check that is working:

If it’s running in background, you can open the RESTHeart’s logs:

docker logs restheart

5) Pass arguments to RESTHeart and JVM

You can append arguments to docker run command to provide RESTHeart and the JVM with arguments.

For example you can mount an alternate configuration file and specify it as an argument

docker run --rm -i -t -p 80:8080 -v my-conf-file.yml:/opt/restheart/etc/my-conf-file.yml:ro --name restheart --link mongodb:mongodb softinstigate/restheart my-conf-file.yml

If you want to pass system properties to the JVM, just specify -D or -X arguments. Note that in this case you need to provide the configuration file as well.

docker run --rm -i -t -p 80:8080 --name restheart --link mongodb:mongodb softinstigate/restheart etc/restheart.yml -Dkey=value

Stop and start again

To stop the RESTHeart background daemon just issue

docker stop restheart

or simply press CTRL-C if it was running in foreground.

You can start it again with

docker start restheart

but it’s not recommended: RESTHeart is a stateless service, best Docker practices would suggest to just delete the stopped container with docker rm restheart or to run it in foreground with the --rm parameter, so that it will be automatically removed when it exits.

The MongoDB container instead is stateful, so if you delete it then you’ll lose all data unless you attached to it a persistent volume. In this case you might prefer to start it again, so that your data is preserved, or ypu might prefer to attach a local Docker Volume to it.

To stop MongoDb issue

docker stop mongodb

To start MongoDb again

docker start mongodb

Note that you must always stop RESTHeart before MongoDB, or you might experience data losses.


If you don’t have them already, download the following packages:

Most of the work must be done using a command line interface. 

1. Install Java and MongoDB

Install Java 8 and MongoDB following the instructions for your specific operating system and make sure that their binaries are actually executable (so they are in your PATH env variable).

To check Java and MongoDB, you should execute the following commands and you should get something like the below (output might vary depending on Java version and your OS):

$ java -version
java version "1.8.0_66"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.8.0_66-b17)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 25.66-b17, mixed mode)

$ mongod --version
db version v3.0.7

RESTHeart has been tested with MongoDB version 3.6, 3.4, 3.2, 3.0, 2.6 and 2.4.

2. Install RESTHeart

To install RESTHeart download the latest stable release package from github and just extract its the content in the desired directory.

You are interested in two files:

  • restheart.jar
  • etc/restheart.yml <- an example configuration file

3. Start MongoDB

In pursuit of simplicity we are first going to start MongoDB without enabling authentication. We’ll see later how to enable it.

You can just start MongoDB by running the mongod command from a shell prompt. It is configured by default to use the /data/dbfolder, which must exist already or you have to create it beforehand. If you do not want to use the default data directory (i.e., /data/db), specify the path to the data directory using the --dbpath option: mongod --dbpath <path to data directory>. You might prefer to run the MongoDB process in background, using the --fork parameter: mongod --fork --syslog:

$ mongod --fork --syslog
about to fork child process, waiting until server is ready for connections.
forked process: 11471
child process started successfully, parent exiting

By default MongoDB starts listening for connections on 

4. Start the RESTHeart server

Run the RESTHeart server by typing java -server -jar restheart.jar.

This starts it with the default configuration, which is fine for MongoDB running on localhost, on default port and without authentication.

Convention over configuration

Different configuration options can be specified passing a configuration file as argument. Note that the configuration file path is either absolute or relative to the restheart.jar file location.

The configuration file can specify any option that will overwrite the default value: this way it is not required to specify all the possible options in the configuration file following the convention over configuration approach.

For more information about the configuration file format refer to Default Configuration File section.

On Linux, OSX and Solaris you can run RESTHeart as a daemon processjava -server -jar restheart.jar --fork. Note that this will force the console logging and the file logging to be turned off and on respectively, regardless the specified log configuration options.

For example:

$ java -jar restheart.jar 
14:01:09.968 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - Starting RESTHeart
14:01:09.971 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - version 2.0.0
14:01:09.978 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - Logging to file /var/folders/yx/mgksqtzn41j41xdnv74snjpc0000gn/T/restheart.log with level INFO
14:01:09.978 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - Logging to console with level INFO
14:01:10.275 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - MongoDB connection pool initialized
14:01:10.275 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - MongoDB version 3.2.0
14:01:10.276 [main] WARN  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - ***** No Identity Manager specified. Authentication disabled.
14:01:10.277 [main] WARN  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - ***** No access manager specified. users can do anything.
14:01:10.277 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - Token based authentication enabled with token TTL 15 minutes
14:01:10.593 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - HTTPS listener bound at
14:01:10.593 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - HTTP listener bound at
14:01:10.595 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - Local cache for db and collection properties enabled with TTL 1000 msecs
14:01:10.595 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - Local cache for schema stores not enabled
14:01:10.766 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - URL / bound to MongoDB resource *
14:01:10.976 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - Embedded static resources browser extracted in /var/folders/yx/mgksqtzn41j41xdnv74snjpc0000gn/T/restheart-4469244188076444924
14:01:10.999 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - URL /browser bound to static resources browser. Access Manager: false
14:01:11.246 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - Pid file /var/folders/yx/mgksqtzn41j41xdnv74snjpc0000gn/T/
14:01:11.246 [main] INFO  org.restheart.Bootstrapper - RESTHeart started

We’ll now use the embedded HAL browser to check that everything is fine. The HAL browser allows you to surf the DATA API with your regular Web browser.

To see the HAL user interface, now open your browser at:

5. Enable MongoDB authentication

This section assumes using MongoDB 3.2 or later. For other versions, the security configuration is similar but different. Rrefer to the MongoDB documentation for more information.

Start MongoDB with authentication and connect to the MongoDB instance from a client running on the same system. This access is made possible by the localhost exception. Again, you might prefer to run the MongoDB process in background, using the --fork parameter.

$ mongod --fork --syslog --auth
$ mongo

In this section we will use the mongodb superuser role root that provides access to the all operations and all the resources.

However the best practice is to use a MongoDB user with restricted access. For instance, it could be restricted to use only a single DB in read only mode. For more information refer to MongoDB authentication with just enough permissionssection.

Create the admin user. The procedure is different depending on MongoDB version.

> use admin
> db.createUser({
    user: "admin",
    pwd: "changeit",
    roles:[ "root" ]
We need to provide the MongoDB user authentication credentials in the RESTHeart configuration file: see docs. 

We’ll use the restheart.yml example configuration file that comes with RESTHeart download package (you find it in the etc directory)

$ vi etc/restheart.yml

Find and modify the following section providing the user-name, password and authentication db (the db where the MongoDB user is defined, in our case ‘admin’).

mongo-uri: mongodb://admin:changeit@

Now start RESTHeart specifying the configuration file:

$ java -server -jar restheart.jar etc/restheart.yml

Test the connection opening the HAL browser at

Note that the example configuration file etc/restheart.yml also enables the RESTHeart security. Opening the HAL browser page, you’ll be asked to authenticate. You can use of one of the credentials defined in etc/security.yml file (try username = ‘a’ and password = ‘a’).

5.1 Connect RESTHeart to MongoDB over TLS/SSL

MongoDB clients can use TLS/SSL to encrypt connections to mongod and mongos instances.

To configure RESTHeart for TLS/SSL do as follows:

  • create the keystore importing the public certificate used by mongod using keytool (with keytool, the java tool to manage keystores of cryptographic keys)
$ keytool -importcert -file mongo.cer -alias mongoCert -keystore rhTrustStore

# asks for password, use "changeit"
  • specify the ssl option in the mongo-uri in the restheart yml configuration file:
mongo-uri: mongodb://
  • start restheart with following options:
$ java -server -jar restheart.jar restheart.yml

5.2. MongoDB authentication with just enough permissions 

In the previous examples we used a mongodb user with root role for the sake of simplicity. This allows RESTHeart to execute any command on any mongodb resource.

On production environments a strong security isolation is mandatory.

In order to achieve it, the best practice is:

  1. use the mongo-mounts configuration option to restrict the resources exposed by RESTHeart;
  2. use a mongodb user with just enough roles: read or readWrite on mounted databases 

The following example, creates a mongodb user with appropriate roles to expose the databases db1, db2 and db3 in read only mode.

> use admin
> db.createUser({user: "mongousr",
    pwd: "secret",
    roles: [{role: "readWrite", db: "db1"},
            {role: "readWrite", db: "db2"},
            {role: "read", db: "db3"}

To list the databases (i.e. GET /, the root resource) the listDatabases permission is needed. This permission is granted by the readWriteAnyDatabase role or you can create a custom role.

To allow deleting a database the dropDatabase permission is needed. This permission is granted by the dbAdmin role or you can create a custom role.

6. Clients Authentication and Authorization

Refert to Security section for detailed information about how enable, configure and customize clients authentication and authorization.