[Fixed] “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” Error in Linux – 4 Simple Ways


To fix the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error in Linux, you can try these four solutions:

  1. Verify if Docker Compose is installed using the command docker-compose --version. If not installed, run either sudo snap install docker or sudo apt install docker-compose to install it on your system.
  2. Check the Path Environment Variable using the echo $PATH command to make sure the directory containing the Docker Compose binary is in the PATH. If not, add the directory using the sudo nano /etc/environment command.
  3. Update Docker Compose using the sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install docker-compose command.
  4. Reinstall Docker Compose by first running the sudo apt-get remove docker-compose command and then downloading the latest version from its official website.

Other factors contributing to the error could be the inability to locate the YAML file or resource constraints, so it’s best to check those as well. To avoid such issues, it is recommended to follow some best practices like separating configuration from code, using health checks, limiting resource usage, testing containers locally, and using version control.

Read the full article below for complete details and step by step guide to fix the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error.

Docker Compose is a powerful tool that simplifies container orchestration. It allows developers to define, configure, and run multiple containers as a single service. However, you may encounter the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error when trying to use this tool. To help you out, I will provide a step-by-step guide in the article below to easily fix this error in Linux.

How to Fix the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” Error in 4 Easy Ways

If you encounter the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error, there are four possible solutions you can try: verifying if Docker Compose is installed, checking the Path Environment Variable, updating Docker Compose, or reinstalling it all together. Let’s have a look at each of these methods here:

1. Check if Docker Compose is Installed

Before attempting to fix the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error, you should first check if Docker Compose is installed on your Linux system. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Terminal app, and run the following command:
docker-compose --version
  1. If Docker Compose is installed, the version number will be displayed in the terminal. But if the command returns an error message such as “command ‘docker-compose’ not found”, you need to install Docker Compose on your system.
docker compose command not found
  1. To install the Docker Compose on your Linux system, you can execute either of the following commands:
sudo snap install docker
sudo apt install docker-compose
  1. Once the installation is complete, you’ll see the following output:
sudo snap install docker command not found: docker compose
  1. In some cases, you might have to restart your Linux system to save and apply the changes made. To do so, execute the following:
sudo reboot

2. Check the Path Environment Variable 

If Docker Compose is installed on the system, but the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error still occurs, it may be due to an issue with the PATH environment variable. The PATH environment variable is a system variable that tells the shell which directories to search for executable files. 

Follow these steps to check the PATH environment variable:

  1. Open a terminal window on Linux, then execute:
echo $PATH
  1. If the directory containing the Docker Compose binary is not in the PATH, the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error will occur.

To fix this issue, add the Docker Compose binary directory to the PATH by following these steps:

  1. Determine the directory where Docker Compose is installed.
  2. Run the following command:
sudo nano /etc/environment
  1. Add the following line to the end of the file:
  1. Save the file and exit the editor.
  2. Restart the Terminal window and run the Docker Compose to see if the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error is resolved.

3. Update Docker Compose

Sometimes, the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error may occur due to an outdated version of Docker Compose. If that’s the case, follow these steps to update Docker Compose to the latest version:

  1. In the Terminal window, execute the following command:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install docker-compose
  1. Wait for the installation to complete.
update docker compose
  1. Type docker-compose --version to confirm that the latest version of Docker Compose has been installed. If it is done correctly, it should resolve the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error.

4. Reinstall Docker Compose

If the above methods do not resolve the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error, try reinstalling Docker Compose. Follow these steps to remove Docker Compose from the system completely:

  1. Run the following command in the Terminal app:
sudo apt-get remove docker-compose
  1. Enter your user password if prompted.
  2. Once the uninstallation process is complete, you’ll see the following output.
reinstall docker compose

To reinstall Docker Compose, follow these steps:

  1. Download the latest version of Docker Compose from its official website.
  2. Next, open the Terminal app and use the cd command to navigate to the directory where the downloaded file is located.
  3. Then, run the following commands:
sudo chmod +x docker-compose
sudo mv docker-compose /usr/local/bin
  1. Now run the Docker Compose to check if the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” issue is resolved.

Quick Guide for 4 Additional Troubleshooting Issues

While the four methods mentioned earlier can help resolve the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error, it’s worth noting that other factors may contribute to this issue. Identifying and addressing any additional problems is critical to successful troubleshooting. Two of the most common issues are:

  • 🔍 Inability to locate the YAML file: Docker Compose needs the YAML file to operate correctly. If the file is missing or named incorrectly, you may see the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error. Check that the YAML file is in the correct directory and named “docker-compose.yml”. Use the ls command to verify the file’s existence in the directory.
  • 🚧 Resource constraints: Docker Compose may fail to run and cause the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error if your system lacks sufficient memory or CPU resources. You can increase the allocated resources for Docker by adjusting the preferences in Docker Desktop or Docker Toolbox settings. This can help prevent the resource constraint error from occurring due to insufficient resources.
  • 📄 YAML syntax errors: Docker Compose relies heavily on YAML files, so it’s essential that the syntax in these files is correct. YAML syntax errors can cause issues when running Docker Compose, such as the “YAML parsing error” or “invalid YAML” error messages. To avoid this issue, ensure that your YAML syntax is correct and follow proper indentation practices. You can use tools like yamllint to validate your YAML syntax.
  • ⚠️ Container conflicts: Docker Compose may also fail to run if there are container conflicts, which can occur when multiple containers attempt to use the same port or other resources. To avoid this issue, ensure that the services defined in your YAML file do not conflict with each other or with any existing containers on your system. You can also use the docker ps command to check for any conflicts and remove any conflicting containers if necessary using the docker rm command.

8 Best Practices for Working with Docker Compose

While the “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error can be frustrating, it’s important to remember that Docker Compose is a powerful tool that can streamline container orchestration. To make the most of Docker Compose, it’s important to follow a few best practices.

  • 🔧 Separate Configuration from Code: Define environment-specific configuration values in separate files to make your Docker Compose files more maintainable and reusable. Use the env_file command in your Docker Compose file to reference external environment variable files.
  • 💉 Use Health Checks: Monitor the health of containers and ensure they are functioning correctly with built-in support for health checks. Add a healthcheck configuration in the Docker Compose file to define custom health check commands for your containers.
  • 📊 Limit Resource Usage: Manage resource usage by defining limits on CPU and memory usage in the Docker Compose file and monitoring performance with tools like cAdvisor or Docker Swarm. Use the resources directive under the deploy section to set resource limits and reservations.
  • 💻 Test Containers Locally: Test containers locally to identify and troubleshoot issues before deploying them to production, using Docker Compose to define and run multiple containers at once. Use the docker-compose up command to start your containers locally for testing.
  • 📚 Version Controls: Use version control to manage Docker Compose files and easily track changes over time, collaborate with team members, and revert to previous versions if necessary. Use tools like git to manage and track changes in your Docker Compose files.
  • 🏷️ Descriptive Service: Use descriptive names and image tags when defining services in a Docker Compose file to make it easier to identify and manage containers and ensure the correct version of an image is used. Specify the image attribute with a descriptive tag when defining services.
  • 📝 Monitor Container Logs: Monitor container logs to quickly identify and troubleshoot issues when running containers with Docker Compose. View logs using the docker-compose logs command or the -f flag, or use third-party logging tools for advanced analysis capabilities.
  • 🔄 Regularly Update Docker Compose: Regularly update Docker Compose to take advantage of new features and bug fixes. Use pip or download from the official Docker website, and review release notes periodically to stay informed about changes. Use pip install -U docker-compose to update Docker Compose using pip.

Top 5 Alternatives to Docker Compose

While Docker Compose is a popular tool for container orchestration, and you can now easily resolve its issues like “Command Not Found: Docker Compose”, it may not be the best fit for every use case. Here are the top 5 alternatives to Docker Compose that you, as a developer, may want to consider:

1. Kubernetes


Kubernetes is a well-known open-source platform for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. It provides a powerful set of features, including auto-scaling, load balancing, and self-healing, making it a great choice for large-scale deployments. It also has a large and active community, with extensive documentation and support available.

For more information on Kubernetes, check out the official Kubernetes documentation.

2. Nomad


Nomad is an open-source platform for deploying and managing containerized and non-containerized applications. It is designed to be simple, flexible, and easy-to-use, making it a great choice for smaller-scale deployments or organisations looking for a more lightweight solution. It’s also highly customizable and supports a wide range of platforms and technologies.

Visit the official Nomad documentation to learn more about Nomad and its features.

3. Ansible


Ansible is a popular open-source tool for automating software provisioning, configuration management, and application deployment. It is known for its simplicity, ease of use, and powerful automation capabilities. It’s a great choice for organisations that want to automate their entire infrastructure, from provisioning servers to deploying applications.

If you want to learn more about Ansible and its capabilities, check out the official Ansible documentation.

4. Red Hat OpenShift

red hat openshift

Red Hat OpenShift is a Kubernetes-based platform for building, deploying, and managing containerized applications. It provides a set of integrated tools for building and deploying applications, and it’s available in both on-premises and cloud-based versions. It’s a great choice for organizations that need a comprehensive platform for managing containerized applications.

To gain a deeper understanding of Red Hat OpenShift and how it can benefit your development projects, refer to the official Red Hat OpenShift documentation.

5. Apache Mesos

apache mesos

Apache Mesos is a distributed systems kernel that abstracts CPU, memory, storage, and other resources away from machines, enabling efficient and fault-tolerant management of distributed applications. It is known for its scalability, fault tolerance, and high availability, making it a great choice for large-scale deployments. It’s also highly customizable and supports a wide range of platforms and technologies.

The official Mesos documentation is a great resource for learning more about Apache Mesos and its use cases.

Wrapping Up

The “Command Not Found: Docker Compose” error is typically easy to resolve by checking for the installation of Docker Compose, updating the PATH environment variable, and updating or reinstalling Docker Compose. Try to follow the best practices to maximise the benefits of containerization and streamline your development workflow. You can also consider some alternative container orchestration tools, depending on your development needs.

If you’re using Windows, you can follow our guide on how to install Docker Compose on Windows, as well as learn how to debug common issues and the basics of Docker Compose Desktop on Windows. With these tools and practices in place, you can overcome common Docker Compose errors and efficiently manage your containers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Docker Compose important for container orchestration?

Docker Compose is important for container orchestration because it simplifies container orchestration by enabling developers to define, configure, and run multiple containers as a single service. It helps manage containerized applications and dependencies, ensuring consistency and reliability across different environments.

What is the difference between Docker Compose and Docker Swarm?

Docker Compose, and Docker Swarm are both tools for container orchestration, but they have different use cases. Docker Compose is designed for single-host environments, while Docker Swarm is designed for multi-host environments.

Is Docker Compose compatible with Windows and macOS?

Yes, Docker Compose can be used on both Windows and macOS. For Windows users, Docker Compose can be installed through Docker Desktop, which is available for Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions. However, Hyper-V must be enabled before installing Docker Desktop. Once installed, Compose can be used via the command line. Similarly, for macOS users, Docker Compose can also be installed via Docker Desktop, which is available for macOS 10.13 (High Sierra) and newer versions. After installing Docker Desktop, Compose can be accessed via the command line.

What should I do if I get a “permission denied” error when running Docker Compose?

This error may occur if the user running the Docker Compose command does not have the appropriate permissions. To resolve this error, try running the command with elevated privileges (e.g. using sudo) or ensure that the user has the appropriate permissions to access Docker resources.

How can I specify environment variables when using Docker Compose?

Environment variables can be specified in a Docker Compose file using the environment keyword. For example:
image: my-image 
MY_VARIABLE: my-value

Can Docker Compose manage containers across multiple hosts?

No, Docker Compose is designed for managing containers on a single host. For managing containers across multiple hosts, consider using a tool like Docker Swarm or Kubernetes.

How can I debug issues with my Docker Compose configuration?

To debug issues with your Docker Compose configuration, try running the command docker-compose config to validate the syntax of the configuration file. Additionally, you can use the docker-compose logs command to view logs for individual containers.

Why do I see the “Command not found: docker-compose” error?

You may see the error message “Command not found: docker-compose” if you try to run the Docker Compose command in the Terminal or command prompt, but the utility is not installed on your system, or it is not available in your system’s PATH environment variable. So, this error message indicates that the system cannot find the Docker Compose executable file, which is necessary to run the command.