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PHP Can't Access Docker Environment (env) Variable

Hey everyone,

I've been working on a PHP application running in a Docker container, and I'm facing an issue accessing environment variables (env) within my PHP code. I've set these environment variables using the `-e` flag while running the `docker run` command.

I've tried accessing the environment variables in my code using `getenv('VAR_NAME')`, but it doesn't seem to work. It returns false or an empty string.

To verify if the environment variables are set correctly within the container, I used the `docker exec -it [container_id] env` command, and I can see that the variables are indeed present.

I also tried using `printenv` command within the container, and it also shows that the variables are set.

My suspicion is that there might be something wrong with my PHP code or the way I'm trying to access the environment variables. Do I need to configure anything specific within Docker or PHP to make it work?

Thank you in advance for any help or guidance you can provide!

All Replies


Hey there,

I had a similar issue in the past, and it turned out that I was facing this problem due to the way I was running my PHP application in the Docker container.

One thing you can try is to ensure that you restart the container after setting the environment variables using the `-e` flag. Sometimes, changes to the environment variables may not take effect until the container is restarted.

Another thing to check is if you're using the correct variable name when calling `getenv()`. In some cases, the variable names may be case-sensitive, so make sure you're using the correct case when accessing them.

If restarting the container and checking the variable names doesn't solve the issue, you may want to verify if the Docker image you are using has the necessary PHP extensions installed to handle environment variables. Sometimes, additional extensions might be required to make `getenv()` work properly.

You can also try accessing the environment variables directly using `$_SERVER['VAR_NAME']` or `$_ENV['VAR_NAME']` in your PHP code. These alternatives can sometimes provide a workaround if `getenv()` is not working as expected.

I hope one of these suggestions helps in resolving your issue. Let us know if you have any further questions or if you need additional assistance!



I had a similar encounter where I struggled with accessing environment variables in my PHP application running within a Docker container. After some troubleshooting, I discovered that the problem was related to the PHP configuration within the container.

In my case, I had to install and enable the PHP dotenv extension to successfully access environment variables. This extension helps in reading variables from the `.env` file, which can store environment variable configurations. Once I installed the extension, I was able to retrieve the variables using `getenv()` without any issues.

You might want to check if the PHP dotenv extension is installed and enabled in your Docker image or PHP configuration. You can do this by examining the Dockerfile used to build the image or by running `php -m` within the container to see if the extension is listed.

If the extension is not present, you can add it by including the relevant installation steps in your Dockerfile. For example, you can use the following commands:

RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y php7.4-dotenv

Remember to rebuild your Docker image after making any changes to the Dockerfile.

Once the PHP dotenv extension is installed and enabled, you should be able to access the environment variables using `getenv()` in your PHP code.

I hope this helps you resolve the issue. If you have any further questions or need assistance, feel free to ask!


Hi there,

I faced a similar challenge with accessing environment variables in a PHP application running in a Docker environment. After some investigation, I found that the issue was related to the order in which the environment variables were being set and used.

In my case, I had separate Docker Compose files for development and production environments. When running the containers in development, I used the `.env` file to set the environment variables. However, in the production environment, I explicitly passed the variables using the `-e` flag with the `docker run` command.

I discovered that if the environment variables were set in both places, the values from the command line took precedence over the ones from the `.env` file. This led to inconsistent behavior and confusion while trying to access the variables in my PHP code.

To solve this, I ensured that I only set the environment variables in one place – either exclusively in the `.env` file or through the `-e` flag. Removing the duplication resolved the issue, and I was able to access the variables consistently using `getenv()`.

So, make sure you are not setting the same environment variables in multiple locations, as it can create conflicts. Check if you have any duplicate definitions or if the variables are being overridden. Keeping the setup coherent by setting the variables in a single place should help to ensure smooth access.

I hope this insight proves helpful in resolving your problem. Feel free to ask if you have any further queries or require additional assistance!

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