In this tutorial we will be setting up Traefik v2 as our reverse proxy with port 80 and 443 enabled, and then hook up a example application behind the application load balancer, and route incoiming requests via host headers.

What is Traefik

Traefik is a modern HTTP reverse proxy and load balancer that makes deploying microservices super easy by making use of docker labels to route your traffic based on host headers, path prefixes etc. Please check out their website to find out more about them.

Use Case

In our example we want to route traefik from to hit our proxy on port 80, then we want traefik to redirect port 80 to the 443 port configured on the proxy which is configured with letsencrypt and reverse proxy the connection to our application.

The application is being configured via docker labels, which we will get into later.

Our Environment

I will be using the domain, so if you are following along, you can just replace this domain with yours.

For this demonstration I have spun up a VM at Civo as you can see below:


From the provided public IP address, we will be creating a DNS A record for our domain, and then create a wildcard entry to CNAME to our initial dns name:


You might not want to point all the subdomains to that entry, but to simplify things, every application that needs to be routed via traefik, I can manage from a traefik config level, since my dns is already pointing to the public ip where traefik is running on.

So if I spin up a new container, lets say bitwarden, I can just set in the labels of that container and due to the dns already pointing to traefik, traefik will route the connection to the correct container.


In order to follow along you will need docker and docker-compose to be installed, and can be validated using:

docker -v
Docker version 20.10.7, build f0df350

docker-compose -v
docker-compose version 1.28.6, build 5db8d86f

Traefik on Docker

We will have one docker-compose.yml file which has the proxy and the example application. Be sure to change the following to suite your environment:

  • traefik.http.routers.api.rule=Host()'

The compose:

version: '3.8'

    image: traefik:2.4
    container_name: traefik
    restart: unless-stopped
      - ./traefik/acme.json:/acme.json
      - /var/run/docker.sock:/var/run/docker.sock
      - docknet
      - 'traefik.enable=true'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.api.rule=Host(``)'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.api.entrypoints=https'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.api.service=api@internal'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.api.tls=true'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.api.tls.certresolver=letsencrypt'
      - 80:80
      - 443:443
      - '--api'
      - '--providers.docker=true'
      - '--providers.docker.exposedByDefault=false'
      - '--entrypoints.http=true'
      - '--entrypoints.http.address=:80'
      - ''
      - '--entrypoints.http.http.redirections.entrypoint.scheme=https'
      - '--entrypoints.https=true'
      - '--entrypoints.https.address=:443'
      - ''
      - ''
      - '--certificatesResolvers.letsencrypt.acme.httpChallenge.entryPoint=http'
      - '--log=true'
      - '--log.level=INFO'
      driver: "json-file"
        max-size: "1m"

    image: traefik/whoami
    container_name: webapp
    restart: unless-stopped
      - docknet
      - 'traefik.enable=true'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.webapp.rule=Host(``)'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.webapp.entrypoints=https'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.webapp.tls=true'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.webapp.tls.certresolver=letsencrypt'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.webapp.service=webappservice'
      - ''
      driver: "json-file"
        max-size: "1m"

    name: docknet

Prepare the ./traefik/acme.json file:

mkdir traefik
touch traefik/acme.json
chmod 600 traefik/acme.json

As you can see in order to wire a application onto the proxy we need the following labels:

      - 'traefik.enable=true'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.webapp.rule=Host(``)'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.webapp.entrypoints=https'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.webapp.tls=true'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.webapp.tls.certresolver=letsencrypt'
      - 'traefik.http.routers.webapp.service=webappservice'
      - ''

Now boot our stack using docker-compose:

docker-compose up -d

You can follow the logs to ensure everything works as expected:

docker-compose logs -f
Attaching to webapp, traefik
traefik    | time="2021-07-11T11:02:22Z" level=info msg="Configuration loaded from flags."
traefik    | time="2021-07-11T11:02:22Z" level=info msg="Starting provider aggregator.ProviderAggregator {}"
traefik    | time="2021-07-11T11:02:22Z" level=info msg="Starting provider *traefik.Provider {}"
traefik    | time="2021-07-11T11:02:22Z" level=info msg="Starting provider *docker.Provider {\"watch\":true,\"endpoint\":\"unix:///var/run/                                              ck\",\"defaultRule\":\"Host(`{{ normalize .Name }}`)\",\"swarmModeRefreshSeconds\":\"15s\"}"
traefik    | time="2021-07-11T11:02:22Z" level=info msg="Starting provider *acme.ChallengeTLSALPN {\"Timeout\":4000000000}"
traefik    | time="2021-07-11T11:02:22Z" level=info msg="Starting provider *acme.Provider {\"email\":\"\",\"caServer\":\"https://                                    \",\"storage\":\"acme.json\",\"keyType\":\"RSA4096\",\"httpChallenge\":{\"entryPoint\":\"http\"},\"ResolverNam                                              e\":\"letsencrypt\",\"store\":{},\"TLSChallengeProvider\":{\"Timeout\":4000000000},\"HTTPChallengeProvider\":{}}"
traefik    | time="2021-07-11T11:02:22Z" level=info msg="Testing certificate renew..." providerName=letsencrypt.acme
traefik    | time="2021-07-11T11:02:24Z" level=info msg=Register... providerName=letsencrypt.acme
webapp     | Starting up on port 80

The certificate process might take anything from 5-30s in my experience.

Test the Application

Now that our webapp container is running, make a http request using curl against the configured host rule, which is on http so that we can validate if traefik is doing a redirect to https:

curl -IL

HTTP/1.1 308 Permanent Redirect
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2021 11:05:47 GMT
Content-Length: 18
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

HTTP/2 200
content-type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
date: Sun, 11 Jul 2021 11:05:47 GMT
content-length: 343

If we access our webapp service in our web browser, we will see the following:


We can also validate that the certificate is valid:


We can also access the traefik dashboard using the configured domain, in this case, and you should see the pretty traefik dashboard:


Future Posts

In future posts I will be using this post as the base setup on getting traefik up and running, and future posts that uses traefik will be tagged under #traefik.

Thank You

Thanks for reading, if you like my content, check out my website or follow me at @ruanbekker on Twitter.