Maintenance of a BIIGLE instance

This guide describes how basic maintenance operations such as updates of a BIIGLE instance work.


Perform these steps to update an existing BIIGLE instance.

  1. Apply the latest changes from the biigle/biigle repository with git pull upstream master (or git pull upstream gpu if you use the GPU setup). If this throws an error that 'upstream' does not appear to be a git repository, configure the upstream repository first:

    $ git remote add upstream

    Check if the latest changes include modifications to the build/.env.example file. If yes, update your build/.env file with the new variables. You can check the changelog of the releases to get a list of changed files.

  2. Get the newest versions of the Docker images:

     $ docker pull
     $ docker pull
     $ docker pull
  3. Run cd build && ./ This will fetch and install the newest versions of the BIIGLE modules, according to the version constraints configured in Again, you can do this on a separate machine, too (see above). In this case the images mentioned above are not required on the production machine.

  4. If the update requires a database migration, do this:

    1. Put the application in maintenance mode: ./artisan down.

    2. Do a database backup. This might look along the lines of:

       docker exec -i $(docker compose ps -q database) \
          pg_dump -U biigle -d biigle > biigle_db.dump
  5. Update the running Docker containers: docker compose up -d.

  6. If the update requires a database migration, do this:

    1. Run the migrations ./artisan migrate
    2. Turn off the maintenance mode: ./artisan up
  7. Run docker image prune to delete old Docker images that are no longer required after the update.

Common tasks

BIIGLE runs as an ensemble of multiple Docker containers (called "services" by Docker Compose).

  • app runs the BIIGLE PHP application that handles user interactions.
  • web accepts HTTP requests, forwards them to the PHP application or serves static files.
  • worker executes jobs from the asynchronous queue which are submitted by app. This is the only service that runs multiple Docker containers in parallel.
  • scheduler runs recurring tasks (similar to cron jobs).
  • cache provides the Redis cache that BIIGLE uses.
  • database provides the PostgreSQL database that BIIGLE uses.

To interact with these services rather than individual Docker containers, you have to use Docker Compose. Here are some common tasks a maintainer of a BIIGLE instance might perform using Docker Compose.

Inspect the logs of running containers

docker compose logs [service]

This shows the log file of the [service] service. You can use --tail=[n] to show only the last [n] lines of the log file and -f to follow the log file in real time.

Restart all services

docker compose restart

This may be required if a service crashed or if file system mounts changed.

Run an artisan command

./artisan [command]

This runs the artisan command [command] in the worker service.

Access the interactive shell

./artisan tinker

This opens the interactive PHP shell that you can use to manipulate BIIGLE. The shell only runs in the worker service as a debugging mechanism.

Change the number of worker containers

docker compose up -d --scale worker=[n]

Set the number of worker containers running in parallel to [n]. If you want this to persist, set scale: [n] for the worker service in docker-compose.yaml.