Get Your Own Heroku - a Guide on How to Run a Custom 'PaaS' for deploying Apps
Heroku is a fantastic platform for Node.js developers. It made deployment of Node.js apps super easier. But obviously. it have so many limitations on free-tier, which makes it less ideal for deploying certain kind of projects, like a telegram bot etc.
I was having a pretty similar issue. I needed to host a bot. Initially, it was in Heroku, but due to the fact that every apps on Heroku free tier goes for sleep after inactivity of around 30 minutes. This, generally, is not a problem for websites, but bots won’t work. There is always a delay on bot response.
First, I thought I would build my own Heroku-like platform. But it’s not really easy. So, I went off with an open-source ‘Platform as a Service’ software.
Likely, there are many such open-sourced products available. One of them is CapRover.
- Docker-based deployment. Each of the deployed app would have their own isolated space.
- Support for
Dockerfilewould maximize the possibilities of what you could do with the deployments.
Nothing much required, really! All you need is:
- A VPS to host CapRover. Preferably DigitalOcean It should also have a Linux OS installed. Ubuntu is preferred.
- Basic Linux Shell Skills for installing required applications.
- A Domain Name
Initial Server Setup
If you are using Digital Ocean, first you need to create a droplet. Digital Ocean have a nice guide on how-to setup a droplet.
Once you are done creating a Droplet, it’s time to update the system. To do that, you need to access your droplet using SSH. This tutorial would help you do that.
After connecting to droplet via SSH, update and upgrade the system using
sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade. Note that, these commands are for Ubuntu.
We also need a couple of other software in order to get our CapRover server up and running. We will be installing them one by one.
CapRover is built on top of Docker. So, it’s an essential essential software. To install docker, checkout the official Docker documentation for Ubuntu.
You may need to add the current user to
dockergroup. To do so, run
sudo usermod -aG docker <user_name>. Otherwise, you will get a docker error.
Node.js and NPM
Yeah, these Node thing is everywhere these days :/ But anyways, it should be
relatively easier to install. Note that, by default Ubuntu repository have
node v8.x.x. We need at least
v10.x.x. So to install
node v13.x.x via NodeSource:
curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_13.x | sudo -E bash -
apt-get install command.
sudo apt-get install -y nodejs
To confirm that you have Node installed, run
node -v from terminal.
It’s possible that NPM was installed along with Node.js. You can verify that
npm -v. In case it is not installed, install it from Ubuntu repository
sudo apt install npm.
By default, NPM needs
sudo to install global packages, which is not
recommended. To change this behavior, change
prefix in NPM config.
npm config set prefix dir_name(replace
with a directory name where you want to have npm packages).
You also, need to add
dir_name/bin to your PATH variable.
By now, you should have a static IP address assigned to your Digital Ocean
droplet. If you have a domain name purchased, you need to point it to your
server IP address using A record. For example: you want
captain.yourdomain.com as your app host. You need to setup two
different a records.
cap A 188.8.131.52 *.captain A 184.108.40.206
At this point, your server is ready to host CapRover. You may additionally need
to allow some ports in order to make CapRover work.
You can allow them using
ufw command in Ubuntu.
ufw allow 80,443,3000,996,7946,4789,2377/tcp; ufw allow 7946,4789,2377/udp;
Note that, this command must run in root shell.
Install CapRover and CapRover CLI
Thanks to the devloper of CapRover, it’s super easy to install. All we need is to run one command, sit back and watch it installing.
docker run -p 80:80 -p 443:443 -p 3000:3000 -v /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock -v /captain:/captain caprover/caprover
Once the CapRover installation is done, visit
verify if CapRover is working. We also need to install CapRover CLI in order
to manage deployment, sertup server etc. To install CapRover from NPM,
npm i -g caprover. Once installed, run
and follow the interactive command prompt.
At this point, you have a CapRover instance running successfully. Check this guide for various deployment methods.
Before deploying a project, make sure to create an
appusing the Web GUI. Otherwise, you won’t be able to deploy.
For more information about CapRover and it’s configurations, check out its official docs.
Having a self-managed PaaS could be very handy. Following are a few reasons I choose to go with a self-managed PaaS for hosting apps.
- I would be saving money. Generally, if I go for Heroku non-free tier, I would be paying a lot of money compared to what I pay now.
- Shared Resources. Server resources won’t get wasted because each and every app would be able to access resources from the same resource pool. So, let’s say, I have 2 GB of RAM. And I need only 1 GB to host XYZ webapp. Now, I can use the remaining amount of RAM to spin-up a new instance ABC webapp.
- Support for [insert techstack name] Since, CapRover uses docker to deploy a new instance, I can basically run apps built using any back-end technologies. And write how to deploy it using a Dockerfile. I have so much flexibility now.
The only downside I could think of is, I have to look after the server. This is won’t be a big deal, thanks to AWS ❤️