Installing Locally using Docker

Is this the best install method for you?

In most cases, we recommend doing an internet-based installation on Heroku instead. If you decide to do a local installation, be sure to read our page on local installations to help you understand what’s going on, particularly this section: Should I use a local installation?


If you need an offline copy of Tabbycat, installing using Docker should be simpler and quicker than using the “Install Locally on…” instructions for your operating system. However if a Docker installation doesn’t work as outlined below, it’s harder to address what isn’t working. If you encounter any problems with Docker, we recommend using the “Install Locally on…” option as a fallback, but if you need to do so, please also report the issue you’re having on GitHub or contact the developers.

Docker is an application that makes it very easy to load and run a specific collection of software. It allows us to bundle everything necessary to run Tabbycat into a single package rather than have users install everything needed step-by-step. Once set up, Docker will allow you to start and stop a webserver (that in turn runs Tabbycat) on your computer whenever you want and without the need for internet access.

1. Download Tabbycat

  1. Go to the page for our latest release.

  2. Download the zip or tar.gz file.

  3. Extract all files in it to a folder of your choice.

2. Install Docker

Install Docker Desktop for your operating system from the Docker website.

Notes for specific operating systems:

  • Windows users will be asked to enable Hyper-V Windows Features or WSL 2 Features while installing Docker. Please do so and restart as asked. If you encounter any problems, our documentation might be outdated—check Docker’s documentation for Windows 10 Pro/Enterprise/Education or for Windows 10 Home.

  • Linux users will be directed to install Docker Engine instead.

3. Run Tabbycat in Docker

  1. Ensure that Docker application is open (there should be a whale icon in your menu/task bar) and that it says that Docker is running.

  2. Browse to the location where you extracted Tabbycat to. Open up the bin folder there. Within that folder:

    • If you’re on macOS, press the Control key, click the icon for osx_docker_start.command, then choose Open from the shortcut menu.

    • If you’re on Windows, open windows_docker_start.bat.

    • If you’re on Linux, open up a terminal in the Tabbycat folder (i.e. the folder containing and run docker-compose up.

  3. A terminal window should pop up and lots of text should scroll by. If this is your first time running Docker, it may take a while (30 minutes or more) to download the virtual machine. The last few lines will say something like:

web_1  | Django version 2.2.13, using settings 'settings'
web_1  | Starting ASGI/Channels version 2.2.0 development server at
web_1  | Quit the server with CONTROL-C.
  1. Open up http://localhost:8000/ (Windows) or (macOS/Linux) in a browser of your choice!


If you want to reopen Tabbycat at a later time (say after restarting), just repeat the steps in this section.