Really Busy Wizards

Dokku + DigitalOcean = Your very own, cheap, Heroku clone!

Author: Justin Kenyon

These days I am learning tons of new information on a daily basis. I am currently a developer apprentice with thoughtbot and one of the benefits of working with such a smart and motivated group of people is that I am constantly pushed to continue learning and developing my own skills.

One hurdle that I am about to gracefully jump over is setting up my own "heroku-like" clone using Dokku and DigitalOcean. I am paying around $5 a month and I am able to push any web app up to my personal server and Dokku will build it and deploy it onto a custom subdomain of my choosing.

I tried looking for a definitive guide of how to do this and ended up in lots of different places on the web to finally get all the information I needed to complete the process. The goal of this post is to help others that are trying to do the same thing. Here is the compilation of steps that I went through to get it up and running for deploying Rails apps:

(disclaimer: these are OS X Mavericks specific directions. If you are on another system, YMMV.)



The above key is totally random and not my real SSH Key. On that note, you should never publish your key since it gives you full root access to the system we are going to build.

Create your droplet


droplet_1 droplet_2 droplet_3



Now you are ready to deploy an app!


Now you can navigate to your new web app url, either:, or something similar, or http://<IP-ADDRESS>:<SPECIFIC-PORT> (these details can be found at the bottom of the push messages from earlier, in this format:


I hope that this guide was informative and helpful. It may even save you some money while giving you a dev playground on the cheap.

Thanks for reading!