Jekyll, Docker, Windows, and

I recently attempted to set up Jekyll using Docker on Windows after running successfully on macOS for a few months. What I expected to be a relatively trivial exercise ended up involving issues with operating system networking, absolute URLs, and behaviour in Jekyll.

Here are a few things I learnt from the experience, and how I finally got everything working.

Jekyll, Docker, and

Running Jekyll inside a Docker container involves executing jekyll serve with the flag --host= to allow Jekyll to be accessible outside the container on the host machine.

Note: The official Jekyll Docker image passes --host= by default; it does not need to be set explicitly.

This results in a server address of, as shown in the jekyll serve output below:

Configuration file: _config.yml
            Source: /srv/jekyll
       Destination: /srv/jekyll/_site
 Incremental build: disabled. Enable with --incremental
                    done in 5.556 seconds.
 Auto-regeneration: enabled for '/srv/jekyll'
    Server address:
  Server running... press ctrl-c to stop.

Windows and

Unlike macOS, Windows does not allow connections to the “any” address. The effect of this is the address is not available on Windows.

Whether or not this is correct behaviour is subject to much discussion, which I won’t cover here. The underlying cause is explained in the answer to this Stack Overflow question:

Unfortunately, connecting to the any address is not allowed on Windows. […] as stated at the Windows API Documentation:

If the address member of the structure specified by the name parameter is filled with zeros, connect will return the error WSAEADDRNOTAVAIL.

On Windows, Jekyll should instead be accessed at http://localhost:4000/.

This will not solve, however, the issue for a site with assets or links that use absolute URLs. These will still have a host of and fail to be loaded, as can be seen in Chrome DevTools:

Asset references with hostname fail to load

jekyll serve and URLs

The cause of this is behaviour introduced in Jekyll 3.3:

When you run jekyll serve, Jekyll will build your site with the value of the host, port […] This happens by default when running Jekyll locally. site.url is set by the development server

When jekyll serve is run with --host=, Jekyll sets the host portion of the site URL to by default, regardless of the url setting in the config. This also affects any absolute URL that Jekyll generates.

This is not ideal for the combination of Jekyll, Docker, and Windows.

Fortunately, Jekyll provides a way to override this:

If JEKYLL_ENV is any value except development (its default value), Jekyll will not overwrite the value of url in your config.

Jekyll localhost workaround

The solution is to run jekyll serve such that it listens on without setting the server address to

This can be achieved with two changes:

  1. Setting JEKYLL_ENV to a value other than development
  2. Updating the configured url to an address that resolves locally eg. http://localhost:4000

An easy solution is to update the url value in _config.yml directly when running Jekyll locally. This adds, however, the inconvenience of making sure to change the value when moving between local and production environments.

Jekyll’s --config flag provides a way to override specific settings locally while allowing the default _config.yml to retain the production settings:

Specify config files instead of using _config.yml automatically. Settings in later files override settings in earlier files. Build Command Options

First, create a file _config.docker.yml, and set url to override the URL in _config.yml:

url: "http://localhost:4000"

Then run Docker as follows:

docker run --rm -e "JEKYLL_ENV=docker" -v ${PWD}:/srv/jekyll -p 4000:4000 -it jekyll/jekyll jekyll serve --config  _config.yml,_config.docker.yml

Note: The above command line is for PowerShell. For Windows Command Line (cmd), replace ${PWD} with %cd%.

The essential details are:

  • -e "JEKYLL_ENV=docker" sets the environment variable JEKYLL_ENV in the container. This can be any value except development.
  • --config _config.yml,_config.docker.yml specifies the config files. Settings in _config.docker.yml override settings in _config.yml.

Instead of starting Docker with multiple command line arguments, I added this configuration to a docker-compose.yml file and use Docker Compose:

version: '2'
      - JEKYLL_ENV=docker
    command: jekyll serve --config  _config.yml,_config.docker.yml
    image: jekyll/jekyll
      - .:/srv/jekyll
      - 4000:4000

Then start the container with the command docker-compose up.

Using either of these methods, Jekyll will be available at http://localhost:4000 with assets and links working correctly.