How to create a development infrastructure on a Linux VM in Azure with Jenkins, GitHub, and Docker

To automate the build and test phase of application development, you can use a continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. In this tutorial, you create a CI/CD pipeline on an Azure VM including how to:

  • Create a Jenkins VM
  • Install and configure Jenkins
  • Create webhook integration between GitHub and Jenkins
  • Create and trigger Jenkins build jobs from GitHub commits
  • Create a Docker image for your app
  • Verify GitHub commits build new Docker image and updates running app

Launch Azure Cloud Shell

The Azure Cloud Shell is a free Bash shell that you can run directly within the Azure portal. It has the Azure CLI preinstalled and configured to use with your account. Click the Cloud Shell button on the menu in the upper-right of the Azure portal.

Cloud Shell

The button launches an interactive shell that you can use to run the steps in this topic:

Screenshot showing the Cloud Shell window in the portal

If you choose to install and use the CLI locally, this tutorial requires that you are running the Azure CLI version 2.0.4 or later. Run az --version to find the version. If you need to install or upgrade, see Install Azure CLI 2.0.

Create Jenkins instance

In a previous tutorial on How to customize a Linux virtual machine on first boot, you learned how to automate VM customization with cloud-init. This tutorial uses a cloud-init file to install Jenkins and Docker on a VM.

In your current shell, create a file named cloud-init.txt and paste the following configuration. For example, create the file in the Cloud Shell not on your local machine. Enter sensible-editor cloud-init-jenkins.txt to create the file and see a list of available editors. Make sure that the whole cloud-init file is copied correctly, especially the first line:

package_upgrade: true
  - path: /etc/systemd/system/docker.service.d/docker.conf
    content: |
  - path: /etc/docker/daemon.json
    content: |
        "hosts": ["fd://","tcp://"]
  - wget -q -O - | apt-key add -
  - sh -c 'echo deb binary/ > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/jenkins.list'
  - apt-get update && apt-get install jenkins -y
  - curl -sSL | sh
  - usermod -aG docker azureuser
  - usermod -aG docker jenkins
  - service jenkins restart

Before you can create a VM, create a resource group with az group create. The following example creates a resource group named myResourceGroupJenkins in the eastus location:

az group create --name myResourceGroupJenkins --location eastus

Now create a VM with az vm create. Use the --custom-data parameter to pass in your cloud-init config file. Provide the full path to cloud-init-jenkins.txt if you saved the file outside of your present working directory.

az vm create --resource-group myResourceGroupJenkins \
    --name myVM \
    --image UbuntuLTS \
    --admin-username azureuser \
    --generate-ssh-keys \
    --custom-data cloud-init-jenkins.txt

It takes a few minutes for the VM to be created and configured.

To allow web traffic to reach your VM, use az vm open-port to open port 8080 for Jenkins traffic and port 1337 for the Node.js app that is used to run a sample app:

az vm open-port --resource-group myResourceGroupJenkins --name myVM --port 8080 --priority 1001
az vm open-port --resource-group myResourceGroupJenkins --name myVM --port 1337 --priority 1002

Configure Jenkins

To access your Jenkins instance, obtain the public IP address of your VM:

az vm show --resource-group myResourceGroupJenkins --name myVM -d --query [publicIps] --o tsv

For security purposes, you need to enter the initial admin password that is stored in a text file on your VM to start the Jenkins install. Use the public IP address obtained in the previous step to SSH to your VM:

ssh azureuser@<publicIps>

View the initialAdminPassword for your Jenkins install and copy it:

sudo cat /var/lib/jenkins/secrets/initialAdminPassword

If the file isn't available yet, wait a couple more minutes for cloud-init to complete the Jenkins and Docker install.

Now open a web browser and go to http://<publicIps>:8080. Complete the initial Jenkins setup as follows:

  • Enter the initialAdminPassword obtained from the VM in the previous step.
  • Click Select plugins to install
  • Search for GitHub in the text box across the top, select the GitHub plugin, then click Install
  • To create a Jenkins user account, fill out the form as desired. From a security perspective, you should create this first Jenkins user rather than continuing as the default admin account.
  • When finished, click Start using Jenkins

Create GitHub webhook

To configure the integration with GitHub, open the Node.js Hello World sample app from the Azure samples repo. To fork the repo to your own GitHub account, click the Fork button in the top right-hand corner.

Create a webhook inside the fork you created:

  • Click Settings, then select Integrations & services on the left-hand side.
  • Click Add service, then enter Jenkins in filter box.
  • Select Jenkins (GitHub plugin)
  • For the Jenkins hook URL, enter http://<publicIps>:8080/github-webhook/. Make sure you include the trailing /
  • Click Add service

Add GitHub webhook to your forked repo

Create Jenkins job

To have Jenkins respond to an event in GitHub such as committing code, create a Jenkins job.

In your Jenkins website, click Create new jobs from the home page:

  • Enter HelloWorld as job name. Choose Freestyle project, then select OK.
  • Under the General section, select GitHub project and enter your forked repo URL, such as
  • Under the Source code management section, select Git, enter your forked repo .git URL, such as
  • Under the Build Triggers section, select GitHub hook trigger for GITscm polling.
  • Under the Build section, choose Add build step. Select Execute shell, then enter echo "Testing" in to command window.
  • Click Save at the bottom of the jobs window.

Test GitHub integration

To test the GitHub integration with Jenkins, commit a change in your fork.

Back in GitHub web UI, select your forked repo, and then click the index.js file. Click the pencil icon to edit this file so line 6 reads:

response.end("Hello World!");

To commit your changes, click the Commit changes button at the bottom.

In Jenkins, a new build starts under the Build history section of the bottom left-hand corner of your job page. Click the build number link and select Console output on the left-hand size. You can view the steps Jenkins takes as your code is pulled from GitHub and the build action outputs the message Testing to the console. Each time a commit is made in GitHub, the webhook reaches out to Jenkins and trigger a new build in this way.

Define Docker build image

To see the Node.js app running based on your GitHub commits, lets build a Docker image to run the app. The image is built from a Dockerfile that defines how to configure the container that runs the app.

From the SSH connection to your VM, change to the Jenkins workspace directory named after the job you created in a previous step. In our example, that was named HelloWorld.

cd /var/lib/jenkins/workspace/HelloWorld

Create a file with in this workspace directory with sudo sensible-editor Dockerfile and paste the following contents. Make sure that the whole Dockerfile is copied correctly, especially the first line:

FROM node:alpine


WORKDIR /var/www
COPY package.json /var/www/
RUN npm install
COPY index.js /var/www/

This Dockerfile uses the base Node.js image using Alpine Linux, exposes port 1337 that the Hello World app runs on, then copies the app files and initializes it.

Create Jenkins build rules

In a previous step, you created a basic Jenkins build rule that output a message to the console. Lets create the build step to use our Dockerfile and run the app.

Back in your Jenkins instance, select the job you created in a previous step. Click Configure on the left-hand side and scroll down to the Build section:

  • Remove your existing echo "Test" build step. Click the red cross on the top right-hand corner of the existing build step box.
  • Click Add build step, then select Execute shell
  • In the Command box, enter the following Docker commands, then select Save:

    docker build --tag helloworld:$BUILD_NUMBER .
    docker stop helloworld && docker rm helloworld
    docker run --name helloworld -p 1337:1337 helloworld:$BUILD_NUMBER node /var/www/index.js &

The Docker build steps create an image and tag it with the Jenkins build number so you can maintain a history of images. Any existing containers running the app are stopped and then removed. A new container is then started using the image and runs your Node.js app based on the latest commits in GitHub.

Test your pipeline

To see the whole pipeline in action, edit the index.js file in your forked GitHub repo again and click Commit change. A new job starts in Jenkins based on the webhook for GitHub. It takes a few seconds to create the Docker image and start your app in a new container.

If needed, obtain the public IP address of your VM again:

az vm show --resource-group myResourceGroupJenkins --name myVM -d --query [publicIps] --o tsv

Open a web browser and enter http://<publicIps>:1337. Your Node.js app is displayed and reflects the latest commits in your GitHub fork as follows:

Running Node.js app

Now make another edit to the index.js file in GitHub and commit the change. Wait a few seconds for the job to complete in Jenkins, then refresh your web browser to see the updated version of your app running in a new container as follows:

Running Node.js app after another GitHub commit

Next steps

In this tutorial, you configured GitHub to run a Jenkins build job on each code commit and then deploy a Docker container to test your app. You learned how to:

  • Create a Jenkins VM
  • Install and configure Jenkins
  • Create webhook integration between GitHub and Jenkins
  • Create and trigger Jenkins build jobs from GitHub commits
  • Create a Docker image for your app
  • Verify GitHub commits build new Docker image and updates running app

Advance to the next tutorial to learn more about how to integrate Jenkins with Visual Studio Team Services.