A Marathon application typically represents a long-running service that has many instances running on multiple hosts. An application instance is called a task. The application definition describes everything needed to start and maintain the tasks. A Marathon application definition creates a DC/OS service.

Deploying Hello Marathon: An Inline Shell Script

Let’s start with a simple example: an service that prints Hello Marathon to stdout and then sleeps for 5 sec, in an endless loop. Use the following JSON application definition to describe the application. Create a file with the name of your choice.

    "id": "basic-0", 
    "cmd": "while [ true ] ; do echo 'Hello Marathon' ; sleep 5 ; done",
    "cpus": 0.1,
    "mem": 10.0,
    "instances": 1

cmd in the above example is the command that gets executed. Its value is wrapped by the underlying Mesos executor via /bin/sh -c ${cmd}.

Then, add the service to DC/OS

dcos marathon app add <your-service-name>.json

When you define and launch a service, Marathon hands over execution to Mesos. Mesos creates a sandbox directory for each task. The sandbox directory is a directory on each agent node that acts as an execution environment and contains relevant log files. The stderr and stdout streams are also written to the sandbox directory.

Declaring Resources in Applications

To run any non-trivial application, you typically depend on a collection of resources: files or archives of files. To manage resource allocation, Marathon has the concept of URIs (uniform resource identifiers). URIs use the Mesos fetcher to do the legwork in terms of downloading (and potentially) extracting resources.

Before we dive into this topic, let’s have a look at an example:

    "id": "basic-1", 
    "cmd": "`chmod u+x cool-script.sh && ./cool-script.sh`",
    "cpus": 0.1,
    "mem": 10.0,
    "instances": 1,
    "uris": [

The example above executes the cmd, downloads the resource https://example.com/app/cool-script.sh (via Mesos), and makes it available in the service instance’s Mesos sandbox. You can verify that it has been downloaded by visiting the DC/OS web interface and clicking on an instance of basic-1, then on the Files tab. You should find cool-script.sh there.

Note: The fetcher does not make dowloaded files executable by default. In the example above, cmd first makes the file executable.

As already mentioned above, Marathon also knows how to handle application resources that reside in archives. Currently, Marathon will (via Mesos and before executing the cmd) first attempt to unpack/extract resources with the following file extensions:

  • .tgz
  • .tar.gz
  • .tbz2
  • .tar.bz2
  • .txz
  • .tar.xz
  • .zip

The following example shows you how this looks in practice. Assume you have an application executable in a zip file at https://example.com/app.zip. This zip file contains the script cool-script.sh, which you want to execute. Here’s how:

    "id": "basic-2", 
    "cmd": "app/cool-script.sh",
    "cpus": 0.1,
    "mem": 10.0,
    "instances": 1,
    "uris": [

In contrast to the example basic-1 we now have a cmd with the value app/cool-script.sh. When the zip file gets downloaded and extracted, a directory app according to the file name app.zip is created and the content of the zip file is extracted into it.

You can specify more than one resource. For example, you could provide a Git repository and some resources from a CDN as follows:

    "uris": [
        "https://git.example.com/repo-app.zip", "https://cdn.example.net/my-file.jpg", "https://cdn.example.net/my-other-file.css"

A typical pattern in the development and deployment cycle is to have your automated build system place the app binary in a location that’s downloadable via an URI. Marathon can download resources from a number of sources. Marathon supports the following URI schemes:

  • file:
  • http:
  • https:
  • ftp:
  • ftps:
  • hdfs:
  • s3:
  • s3a:
  • s3n:

Deploying a Simple Docker-based Application with the REST API

With Marathon it is straightforward to run applications that use Docker images.

In the following example, you will create a simple Docker app and deploy it to DC/OS using the Marathon API.

The Docker app is a Python-based web server that uses the image python:3. Inside the container, the web server runs on port 8080 (the value of containerPort). hostPort is set to 0 so that Marathon assigns a random port on the Mesos agent, which is mapped to port 8080 inside the container.

Paste the following JSON into a file named basic-3.json.

  "id": "basic-3",
  "cmd": "python3 -m http.server 8080",
  "cpus": 0.5,
  "mem": 32.0,
  "container": {
    "type": "DOCKER",
    "docker": {
      "image": "python:3",
      "network": "BRIDGE",
      "portMappings": [
        { "containerPort": 8080, "hostPort": 0 }

Use the Marathon API to deploy the app basic-3 from the DC/OS CLI. Refer to the documentation to learn more about the API token required in the command below.

 curl -H "Authorization: token=$(dcos config show core.dcos_acs_token)" -X POST <master-IP>/service/marathon/v2/apps -d @basic-3.json -H "Content-type: application/json"

When you submit the above application definition to DC/OS, you should see your new service running from the Services tab of the DC/OS GUI.

Go to <master-IP>:3100 to see the contents of the Docker container’s root directory.