Check is container/service running with docker-compose

I am using the docker-compose.

Some commands like up -d service_name or start service_name are returning right away and this is pretty useful if you don't want the containers running to depend on the state of the shell, like they do with regular up service_name. The one use-case is running it from some kind of continious integration/delivery server.

But this way of running/starting services does not provide any feedback about the actual state of the service afterwards.

The Docker Compose CLI reference for up command does mention the relevant option, but, as for version 1.7.1, it is mutually exclusive with -d:

--abort-on-container-exit  Stops all containers if any container was stopped.
                           *Incompatible with -d.*

Can I somehow manually check that the container is indeed working and haven't stopped because of some error?

  • docker-compose ps -q <service_name> will display the container ID no matter it's running or not, as long as it was created.
  • docker ps shows only those that are actually running.

Let's combine these two commands:

if [ -z `docker ps -q --no-trunc | grep $(docker-compose ps -q <service_name>)` ]; then
  echo "No, it's not running."
  echo "Yes, it's running."

docker ps shows short version of IDs by default, so we need to specify --no-trunc flag.

UPDATE: It threw "grep usage" warning if the service was not running. Thanks to @Dzhuneyt, here's the updated answer.

if [ -z `docker-compose ps -q <service_name>` ] || [ -z `docker ps -q --no-trunc | grep $(docker-compose ps -q <service_name>)` ]; then
  echo "No, it's not running."
  echo "Yes, it's running."

As for version 1.7.1, there are no such commands built-in.

Instead, the exec can be used in similar way.

When you run it for the service which has some containers up it will run ok:

~/apperture-science $ docker-compose exec chell echo 'Still alive!'
Still alive!
~/apperture-science $ echo $?

But when you run it for the service which has no running service containers, it will show an error:

~/apperture-science $ docker-compose exec glados echo "Still alive!"
ERROR: No container found for apperture-science-glados_1
~/apperture-science $ echo $?

So, it can be used in order to check, is there any "alive" containers for given service.

To see all services running:

docker-compose ps --services --filter "status=running"

To see if your-service is running:

docker-compose ps --services --filter "status=running" | grep <your-service>

Note that --filter must be used with --services for some foreign reason.

You can run:

docker-compose ps -q service-name

And you will get the id of the container if service-name is running. Something like:


If the service is not running the output is empty, so if you want to use this in a script you can do something like:

IS_RUNNING=`docker-compose ps -q service-name`
if [[ "$IS_RUNNING" != "" ]]; then
    echo "The service is running!!!"

I had a similar need. However, I have a restart: always in my environment. So it can be a bit tricky to detect if something is crashing and restarting in a loop.

I made an Icinga/Nagios check to also compare the created and start times. Maybe it's useful to someone else down the line:

#!/usr/bin/env python
from __future__ import print_function
import argparse
from datetime import timedelta
from datetime import datetime
import sys

from dateutil.parser import parse as parse_date
import docker
import pytz
parser = argparse.ArgumentParser()
                    help="The name of the docker-compose project")
                    help="The name of the docker-compose service")
args = vars(parser.parse_args())

client = docker.from_env()
service_containers = client.containers.list(filters={
    "label": [

if len(service_containers) == 0:
    print("CRITICAL: project({})/service({}) doesn't exist!".format(
        args["compose_project"], args["compose_service"]))
elif len(service_containers) > 1:
    print("CRITICAL: project({})/service({}) has more than 1 "
              args["compose_project"], args["compose_service"]))

service_container = service_containers[0]
created_at = parse_date(service_container.attrs['Created'])
status = service_container.attrs['State']['Status']
started_at = parse_date(service_container.attrs['State']['StartedAt'])
now = datetime.utcnow().replace(tzinfo=pytz.utc)
uptime = now - started_at

if status in ['stopped', 'exited', 'dead']:
    print("CRITICAL: project({})/service({}) is status={}".format(
        args["compose_project"], args["compose_service"], status))

if (started_at - created_at) > timedelta(minutes=5):
    if uptime < timedelta(seconds=5):
        print("CRITICAL: project({})/service({}) appears to be "
                  args["compose_project"], args["compose_service"]))

if status == "restarting":
    print("WARNING: project({})/service({}) is restarting".format(
        args["compose_project"], args["compose_service"]))

print ("OK: project({})/service({}) is up for {}".format(
    args["compose_project"], args["compose_service"], uptime

Here is a simple one liner that returns the current status of the service:

docker inspect --format "{{.State.Status}}" $(docker-compose ps -q your_service_name)

This is returning only the status of docker container. If you want to check for the actual state of your application you should add HEALTHCHECK to your Dockerfile ( Afterwards you can inspect it with:

docker inspect --format "{{.State.Health.Status}}" $(docker-compose ps -q your_service_name)

How about this?

docker-compose ps | awk '$4 == "Up" {print $1}' | grep <service-name>

you list the processes, select the lines where "Up" is in column 4 and filter through for a match on the service name.

If you assume this scenario:

  • containers either start and run indefinitely or stop immediately with an error code (i.e. for missing configuration)
  • you do the check only once after docker-compose up -d returns

you can check if there is any stopped container due to an error with: docker ps -a | grep 'Exited (255)'.

This check works correctly even in case of containers which are expected to stop immediately with no error (i.e. data containers), as their status (from docker ps -a) is marked as Exited (0).

For example, in our docker-compose.yml, we start our containers with:

command: sh -c 'node dotenv_check.js && pm2 start --no-daemon src/worker.js --watch'

For php-fpm, we use a similar command:

command: >-
  sh -c '
  set -e;
  for PROJECT in frontend backend; do
    cd /var/www/$${PROJECT};
    php dotenv_check.php;

The dotenv_check.js and dotenv_check.php are scripts which exit with an error code in case a required env variable is missing.

The set -e command, tells the script to stop on error, which, in turns, will immediately stop the container. About set-e

You can grep for (healthy) or/and (unhealthy) images to act properly.

In this example, i'm probing docker-compose each 5 seconds for running service with (healthy) status. If script will find such service, it will break execution. If script will exceed 300 seconds, it will exit with error code.

x=$(docker-compose -f /mnt/<service>/docker-compose.yaml ps <service> | grep -c '(healthy)')
while [[ $x == "0" ]]; do
    echo "Please wait until <service> becomes healthy"
    sleep 5
    x=$(docker-compose -f /mnt/<service>/docker-compose.yaml ps <service> | grep -c '(healthy)')
    if [[ $x == "1" ]]; then
      echo "<service> is healthy..."
    elif [[ $LIMIT -lt $EXPIRED ]]; then
      echo "<service> startup has exceeded 5m timeout, exiting!"
      exit 1

Here's a simplified one-liner based on almquista's answer:

docker ps -q --no-trunc | grep -q "^$(docker-compose ps -q app-service)$"

We use grep's -q flag so a non-zero exit code indicates the service is not running. For example:

if docker ps -q --no-trunc | grep -q "^$(dc-audo-dev ps -q app-service)$"; then
    echo "Container is still running..."