Why is Docker-Compose slow

May 02, 2020 • ☕️ 3 min read

I understand that docker or docker-compose do not have the worst documentation I have ever read. However, the peculiarity exists in the behavior of its functionality.

If you’ve experienced one of the following issues, you’re knocking on the right door

  • docker-compose is slow
  • docker-compose hangs
  • docker-compose hangs indefinitely
  • docker-compose stalling
  • docker-compose stuck
  • docker-compose takes a long time
  • etc

Anyway, to check whether you are absolutely part of this issue, execute the following command:

$ cat /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail

If you got number >= 160, you can breathe a sigh of relief and just throw this post straight into the trash. This issue isn’t related to you. But if number < 160 and if you have already thrown the post into the trash, please take it back and continue reading it.


You will find the workaround here.


So, one of the strangest issues that you may notice while using docker-compose CLI is that it may be slow or hang sometimes even if you just enter the command to get its version $ docker-compose version.

Especially, It happens on cloud VPS or VM like Digital Ocean or Scaleway.

I’d say I was being tortured for almost a year not to understand the reason for this strange phenomenon, nor I had time to discover the issue causes.

However, today I tried to dig into this for one more time and finally figured it out.

Actually, you could find the discussion page on the Github issue if you googled it after 07.03.2019. So, if you google ”docker-compose takes a long time”, you will most probably get github-issue-page as a first result. But, the workaround for that issue became only available after 06.08.2019 (pity for others who had a similar issue before).

Root Cause

The problem was inside the docker-compose library called libsodium that was used for cryptography and networking.

It was calling /dev/random for generating a random number and if the system had a lack of entropy, then most probably you had a chance of being stuck on this issue.

Of course, this is not the actual issue of the docker-compose to document this behavior, however, tons of people who just start using docker-compose and deploy services to production come across this issue and it is better to make a notice of this in the documentation.

p.s. I do not know by the time anyone reads this post whether documentation will be updated or the issue will be resolved, but if you want this behavior to be documented, please upvote (https://github.com/docker/compose/issues/6931).


Kindly advise, please try to document as much as possible if you think you have built an amazing product to use :)

Hopefully, I’ll write more interesting things in the future.

If you want to hear more about tech/random observation, then you are welcome to follow me on medium, or a better option would be to follow my own blog, or the absolute best choice would be to follow my telegram channel

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Personal blog by Bedilbek Khamidov.
I observe trying to be objective, but can't stop being subjective