Getting a service running under Docker is fairly straight forward once you have all the working parts together. I have an app written (following my guide on service and console in one), which uses Owin to serve a web page as a demo:

install-package Microsoft.Owin.SelfHost
public partial class Service : ServiceBase
  //see the service console post for the rest of this

	protected override void OnStart(string[] args)
		_app = WebApp.Start("http://*:12345", app =>

	protected override void OnStop()

To run this under docker/mono we just need to add a Dockerfile to the root directory of the solution, which is based off the documentation here.

Using mono-service instead of mono to run the application caused me a number of headaches to start with, as the container was exiting instantly. This is because Docker detects the process has exited, and stops the container. As we will be running the container detached from the console, we just need to supply the --no-daemon argument to mono-service.

FROM mono:3.10-onbuild
RUN apt-get update && apt-get install mono-4.0-service -y
CMD [ "mono-service",  "./MicroServiceDemo.exe", "--no-daemon" ]
EXPOSE 12345

You can then go to your solution directory, and run the following two commands to create your image, and start a container of it:

docker build -t servicedemo .
docker run -d -p 12345:12345 --name demo servicedemo

You can now open your browser and go to your Docker host’s IP:12345 and see the Owin welcome page.

Improvements: Speed and lack of internet

Quite often I have no internet access, so having to apt-get install mono-4.0-service each time I build the image can be a pain. This however is also very easily resolved: by making another image with the package already installed.

Create a new directory (outside of your project directory), and create a Dockerfile. This Dockerfile is identical to the mono:3.10-onbuild image, but with the added apt-get line.

FROM mono:3.10.0

MAINTAINER Jo Shields <[email protected]>

RUN apt-get update && apt-get install mono-4.0-service -y

RUN mkdir -p /usr/src/app/source /usr/src/app/build
WORKDIR /usr/src/app/source

ONBUILD COPY . /usr/src/app/source
ONBUILD RUN nuget restore -NonInteractive
ONBUILD RUN xbuild /property:Configuration=Release /property:OutDir=/usr/src/app/build/
ONBUILD WORKDIR /usr/src/app/build

Now run the build command to make your new base image:

docker build -t mono-service-onbuild .

Now you can go back to your project and update the Dockerfile to use this image base instead:

FROM mono-service-onbuild
CMD [ "mono-service",  "./MicroServiceDemo.exe", "--no-daemon" ]
EXPOSE 12345

Now when you run docker build -t <project name> . it will only need to do the compile steps.

Much faster :)