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Extending and Customizing Environments

DDEV provides several ways to customize and extend project environments.

Changing PHP Version

The project’s .ddev/config.yaml file defines the PHP version to use. The php_version can be changed to 5.6, 7.0, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 8.0, 8.1, 8.2, or 8.3. The current default is 8.1.

Older Versions of PHP

Support for older versions of PHP is available on ddev-contrib via custom docker-compose files.

Changing Web Server Type

DDEV supports nginx with php-fpm by default (nginx-fpm), and Apache with php-fpm (apache-fpm). You can change this with the webserver_type config option, or using the ddev config command with the --webserver-type flag.

Adding Services to a Project

DDEV provides everything you need to build a modern PHP application on your local machine. More complex web applications, however, often require integration with services beyond the usual requirements of a web and database server—maybe Apache Solr, Redis, Varnish, or many others. While DDEV likely won’t ever provide all of these additional services out of the box, it’s designed to provide simple ways to customize the environment and meet your project’s needs without reinventing the wheel.

A collection of vetted service configurations is available in the Additional Services Documentation.

If you need to create a service configuration for your project, see Defining Additional Services with Docker Compose.

Using Node.js with DDEV

There are many ways to deploy Node.js in any project, so DDEV tries to let you set up any possibility you can come up with.

Please share your techniques!

There are several ways to share your favorite Node.js tips and techniques. Best are ddev-get add-ons, Stack Overflow, and ddev-contrib.

Running Extra Daemons in the Web Container

There are several ways to run processes inside the web container.

  1. Manually execute them as needed, with ddev exec, for example.
  2. Run them with a post-start hook.
  3. Run them automatically using web_extra_daemons.

Running Extra Daemons with post-start Hook

Daemons can be run with a post-start exec hook or automatically started using supervisord.

A simple post-start exec hook in .ddev/config.yaml might look like:

    - exec: "nohup php --docroot=/var/www/html/something -S &"

Running Extra Daemons Using web_extra_daemons

If you need extra daemons to start up automatically inside the web container, you can easily add them using web_extra_daemons in .ddev/config.yaml.

You might be running Node.js daemons that serve a particular purpose, like browsersync, or more general daemons like a cron daemon.

For example, you could use this configuration to run two instances of the Node.js HTTP server for different directories:

  - name: "http-1"
    command: "/var/www/html/node_modules/.bin/http-server -p 3000"
    directory: /var/www/html
  - name: "http-2"
    command: "/var/www/html/node_modules/.bin/http-server /var/www/html/sub -p 3000"
    directory: /var/www/html
  • directory should be the absolute path inside the container to the directory where the daemon should run.
  • command is best as a simple binary with its arguments, but Bash features like cd or && work. If the program to be run is not in the ddev-webserver $PATH then it should have the absolute in-container path to the program to be run, like /var/www/html/node_modules/.bin/http-server.
  • web_extra_daemons is a shortcut for adding a configuration to supervisord, which organizes daemons inside the web container. If the default settings are inadequate for your use, you can write a complete config file for your daemon.
  • Your daemon is expected to run in the foreground, not to daemonize itself, supervisord will take care of that.
  • To see the results of the attempt to start your daemon, see ddev logs or docker logs ddev-<project>-web.

Exposing Extra Ports via ddev-router

If your web container has additional HTTP servers running inside it on different ports, those can be exposed using web_extra_exposed_ports in .ddev/config.yaml. For example, this configuration would expose a node-vite HTTP server running on port 3000 inside the web container, via ddev-router, to ports 9998 (HTTP) and 9999 (HTTPS), so it could be accessed via https://<project>

  - name: node-vite
    container_port: 3000
    http_port: 9998
    https_port: 9999

The configuration below would expose a Node.js server running in the web container on port 3000 as https://<project> and a “something” server running in the web container on port 4000 as https://<project>

  - name: nodejs
    container_port: 3000
    http_port: 2999
    https_port: 3000
  - name: something
    container_port: 4000
    https_port: 4000
    http_port: 3999

Fill in all three fields even if you don’t intend to use the https_port!

If you don’t add https_port, then it defaults to 0 and ddev-router will fail to start.

Exposing Extra Non-HTTP Ports

While the web_extra_exposed_ports gracefully handles running multiple DDEV projects at the same time, it can’t forward ports for non-HTTP TCP or UDP daemons. Instead, ports can be added in a docker-compose.*.yaml file. This file does not need to specify an additional services. For example, this configuration exposes port 5900 for a VNC server.

In .ddev/docker-compose.vnc.yaml:

      - "5900:5900"

If multiple projects declare the same port, only the first project will be able to start successfully. Consider making services like this disabled by default, especially if they aren’t needed in day to day use.

Providing Custom Environment Variables to a Container

You can set custom environment variables in several places:

  • The project’s web_environment setting in .ddev/config.yaml or .ddev/config.*.yaml:

    - MY_ENV_VAR=someval
    - MY_OTHER_ENV_VAR=someotherval
  • The global web_environment setting in .ddev/global_config.yaml.

  • An optional, project-level .ddev/.env file, which could look something like this:


If you’d rather use the CLI to set the project or global web_environment value, you can use the ddev config command:

# Set MY_ENV_VAR for the project
ddev config --web-environment-add="MY_ENV_VAR=someval"

# Set MY_ENV_VAR globally
ddev config global --web-environment-add="MY_ENV_VAR=someval

You can use the --web-environment flag to overwrite existing values rather than adding them.

Don’t check in sensitive values!

Sensitive variables like API keys should not be checked in with your project. Typically you might use an .env file and not check that in, but offer .env.example with expected keys that don’t have values. Some use global configuration for sensitive values, as that’s not normally checked in either.

Altering the In-Container $PATH

Sometimes it’s easiest to put the command you need into the existing $PATH using a symbolic link rather than changing the in-container $PATH. For example, the project bin directory is already included the $PATH. So if you have a command you want to run that’s not already in the $PATH, you can add a symlink.


  • On Craft CMS, the craft script is often in the project root, which is not in the $PATH. But if you mkdir bin && ln -s craft bin/craft you should be able to run ddev exec craft. (Note however that ddev craft takes care of this for you.)
  • On projects where the vendor directory is not in the project root (Acquia projects, for example, have composer.json and vendor in the docroot directory), you can mkdir bin && ln -s docroot/vendor/bin/drush bin/drush to put drush in your $PATH. (With projects like this, make sure to set composer_root: docroot so that ddev composer works properly.)

You can also modify the PATH environment variable by adding a script to <project>/.ddev/homeadditions/.bashrc.d/ or (global) ~/.ddev/homeadditions/.bashrc.d/. For example, if your project vendor directory is not in the expected place (/var/www/html/vendor/bin) you can add a <project>/.ddev/homeadditions/.bashrc.d/

export PATH=$PATH:/var/www/html/somewhereelse/vendor/bin

Custom nginx Configuration

When you run ddev restart using nginx-fpm, DDEV creates a configuration customized to your project type in .ddev/nginx_full/nginx-site.conf. You can edit and override the configuration by removing the #ddev-generated line and doing whatever you need with it. After each change, run ddev restart. (For updates without restart, see Troubleshooting nginx Configuration.)

You can also have more than one config file in the .ddev/nginx_full directory, and each will be loaded when DDEV starts. This can be used for serving multiple docroots and other techniques.

Troubleshooting nginx Configuration

  • Any errors in your configuration may cause the web container to fail and try to restart. If you see that behavior, use ddev logs to diagnose.
  • The configuration is copied into the container during restart. Therefore it is not possible to edit the host file for the changes to take effect. You may want to edit the file directly inside the container at /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/. (For example, run ddev ssh to get into the container.)
  • You can run ddev exec nginx -t to test whether your configuration inside the container is valid. (Or run ddev ssh and run nginx -t.)
  • You can reload the nginx configuration by running either ddev restart or editing the configuration inside the container at /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/ and running ddev exec nginx -s reload on the host system (inside the container run nginx -s reload).
  • The alias Alias "/phpstatus" "/var/www/phpstatus.php" is required for the health check script to work.

Multiple Docroots in nginx (Advanced)

It’s easiest to have different web servers in different DDEV projects, and DDEV projects can easily communicate with each other, but some sites require more than one docroot for a single project codebase. Sometimes this is because there’s an API in the same codebase but using different code, or different code for different languages, etc.

The generated .ddev/nginx_full/seconddocroot.conf.example demonstrates how to do this. You can create as many of these as you want: change the servername and the root and customize as needed.

nginx Snippets

To add an nginx snippet to the default config, add an nginx config file as .ddev/nginx/<something>.conf.

For example, to make all HTTP URLs redirect to their HTTPS equivalents you might add .ddev/nginx/redirect.conf with this stanza:

    if ($http_x_forwarded_proto = "http") {
      return 301 https://$host$request_uri;

After adding a snippet, run ddev restart to make it take effect.

Custom Apache Configuration

If you’re using webserver_type: apache-fpm in your .ddev/config.yaml, you can override the default site configuration by editing or replacing the DDEV-provided .ddev/apache/apache-site.conf configuration.

  • Edit the .ddev/apache/apache-site.conf.
  • Add your configuration changes.
  • Save your configuration file and run ddev restart. If you encounter issues with your configuration or the project fails to start, use ddev logs to inspect the logs for possible Apache configuration errors.
  • Use ddev exec apachectl -t to do a general Apache syntax check.
  • The alias Alias "/phpstatus" "/var/www/phpstatus.php" is required for the health check script to work.
  • Any errors in your configuration may cause the web container to fail. If you see that behavior, use ddev logs to diagnose.


Changes to .ddev/apache/apache-site.conf take place on a ddev restart. You can also ddev exec apachectl -k graceful to reload the Apache configuration.

Custom PHP Configuration (php.ini)

You can provide additional PHP configuration for a project by creating a directory called .ddev/php/ and adding any number of *.ini PHP configuration files.

You should generally limit your override to any specific option(s) you need to customize. Every file in .ddev/php/ will be copied into /etc/php/[version]/(cli|fpm)/conf.d, so it’s possible to replace files that already exist in the container. Common usage is to put custom overrides in a file called my-php.ini. Make sure you include the section header that goes with each item (like [PHP]).

One interesting implication of this behavior is that it’s possible to disable extensions by replacing the configuration file that loads them. For instance, if you were to create an empty file at .ddev/php/20-xdebug.ini, it would replace the configuration that loads Xdebug, which would cause Xdebug to not be loaded!

To load the new configuration, run ddev restart.

An example file in .ddev/php/my-php.ini might look like this:

max_execution_time = 240;

Custom MySQL/MariaDB configuration (my.cnf)

You can provide additional MySQL/MariaDB configuration for a project by creating a directory called .ddev/mysql/ and adding any number of *.cnf MySQL configuration files. These files will be automatically included when MySQL is started. Make sure that the section header is included in the file.

An example file in .ddev/mysql/no_utf8mb4.cnf might be:

collation-server = utf8_general_ci
character-set-server = utf8

To load the new configuration, run ddev restart.

Custom PostgreSQL Configuration

If you’re using PostgreSQL, a default posgresql.conf is provided in .ddev/postgres/postgresql.conf. If you need to alter it, remove the #ddev-generated line and ddev restart.

Extending config.yaml with Custom config.*.yaml Files

You may add additional config.*.yaml files to organize additional commands as you see fit for your project and team.

For example, many teams commit their config.yaml and share it throughout the team, but some team members may require overrides to the checked-in version specifically for their environment and not checked in. For example, a team member may want to use a router_http_port other than the team default due to a conflict in their development environment. In this case they could add .ddev/config.ports.yaml:

# My machine can’t use port 80 so override with port 8080, but don’t check this in!
router_http_port: 8080

Extra config.*.yaml files are loaded in lexicographic order, so config.a.yaml will be overridden by config.b.yaml.

Team members may choose to use config.local.yaml for local non-committed config changes, for example. config.local.yaml is gitignored by default.

config.*.yaml update configuration according to these rules:

  1. Simple fields like router_http_port or webserver_type are overwritten.
  2. Lists of strings like additional_hostnames or additional_fqdns are merged.
  3. The list of environment variables in web_environment are “smart merged”: if you add the same environment variable with a different value, the value in the override file will replace the value from config.yaml.
  4. Hook specifications in the hooks variable are merged.

If you need to override existing values, set override_config: true in the config.*.yaml where the override behavior should take place. Since config.*.yaml files are normally merged into the configuration, some things can’t be overridden normally. For example, if you have nfs_mount_enabled: true you can’t override it with a merge and you can’t erase existing hooks or all environment variables. However, with override_config: true in a particular config.*.yaml file,

override_config: true
nfs_mount_enabled: false

can override the existing values, and

override_config: true
  post-start: []


override_config: true
additional_hostnames: []

can have their intended affect.

override_config affects only behavior of the config.*.yaml file it exists in.

To experiment with the behavior of a set of config.*.yaml files, use the ddev debug configyaml file; it’s especially valuable with the yq command, for example ddev debug configyaml | yq.

Explicit supervisord Configuration for Additional Daemons

Although most extra daemons (like Node.js daemons, etc.) can be configured easily using web_extra_daemons, there may be situations where you want complete control of the supervisord configuration.

In these case you can create a .ddev/web-build/<daemonname>.conf with configuration like:


And create a .ddev/web-build/Dockerfile.<daemonname> to install the config file:

ADD daemonname.conf /etc/supervisor/conf.d

Full details for advanced configuration possibilities are in Supervisor docs.

Last update: August 30, 2023