Run Multiple Process Groups in an App

All new apps now deploy to V2 of the Fly Apps platform, running on Fly Machines. Most docs focus on Apps V2, but we still include information specific to the legacy Fly Apps V1 where appropriate.

We'll be migrating all V1 apps in phases. Learn more about how and why we're getting off Nomad.

You can also migrate your V1 app yourself using our migration tool or manually.

Process groups are a way to configure a single Fly App to run multiple different programs.

You define processes in your fly.toml, giving process group each a name and a command to run at boot. Each defined process runs in its own Fly Machine(s) within the app, which means they don't compete with each other for VM resources, and they can be scaled individually.

The Default Process Group

If you don't explicitly define any processes, the Machines in a Fly App belong to the default app process group, and on boot they run whatever entrypoint process the app's Docker image has. (Apps are shipped to in Docker images, even though we run VMs, not containers.)

Related: you may have noticed that the services section in the default app configuration applies to the app process:

  http_checks = []
  internal_port = 8080
  processes = ["app"]

This implicit process only exists if you don't have explicitly defined processes.

Run Multiple Processes

To run multiple processes, first make sure all the things you want to run are installed in your app's Docker image.

Define a processes section in your app's fly.toml, pairing process group names with the commands they should run. Here's an example:

  web = "bin/rails fly:server"
  cron = "supercronic /app/crontab"

Once there's a [processes] section in your config, flyctl assumes this is a complete list of your desired processes. If you want an app process group alongside others, add it to the config explicitly.

Process group commands in a Fly App correspond to CMD in Docker; they don't replace the ENTRYPOINT of your app image, but will supersede CMD.

Processes and Services

Chances are, you only want user requests to hit one of your processes; in the above example, that process is web, so you would specify the web process in the [[services]] section for the app's HTTP service:

  http_checks = []
  internal_port = 8080
  processes = ["web"]

You can define distinct services for each process that needs to accept connections via Fly Proxy (whether publicly or via Flycast), by creating multiple [[services]] sections in fly.toml.

Note: Make sure processes handle connections on different external ports. Fly Proxy doesn't know about process groups; it load-balances requests among all Machines with a service configured on the requested port.


fly deploy makes sure that the app has at least one Machine for each process group you've defined, and destroys any Machines belonging to any process group that isn't configured in fly.toml. It also updates the command, services, and health checks for each fly deploy-managed Machine on the app; and creates a new app release.

So on the first deployment (either at the end of fly launch or at the first explicit fly deploy), flyctl creates and starts one Machine for each process group in fly.toml.

If additional process groups are configured in an app's [processes] block, the next fly deploy spins up one new Machine to run each new process.

Scale a Process Group Horizontally

fly machine clone can be used to build out multiple VMs within a process group:

fly machine clone --region gru e2865641be9786

If Machine 21781973f03e89 belongs to the worker process group, the new Machine will be created in the gru (São Paulo) region with the command, services, and checks that are configured on the app for worker Machines.

Scale a Process Group Vertically

At the moment, to change the VM size for an entire process group, you have to update each Machine that belongs to it. See Scale Machine CPU and RAM for how to do this.

Move a Machine Between Process Groups

You can change the process group of an existing Machine by updating its metadata:

fly machine update --metadata fly_process_group=app 21781973f03e89

Then deploy the app to apply the configuration for that process group to the Machine:

fly deploy

Process Groups and Legacy (Nomad) Apps

Known issues with process groups and Nomad apps:

  • Running multiple processes in this way is not compatible with autoscaling.
  • Unexpected behavior with regions may arise if you use a [processes] block and then delete it.

In a "V1" Fly App, you don't need to specify which machines are assigned to which processes; Nomad does this for you. After adding process groups to your app's fly.toml and deploying, scale them up with per-process commands. For example:

$ fly scale count web=2 worker=2

Per-process Commands (Nomad)

Some Nomad-only fly commands accept a process name as an argument. The following examples shows which:

  • Change VM counts: fly scale count web=2 worker=1
  • Change VM size: fly scale vm shared-cpu-1x --group worker
  • Change regions: fly regions set iad --group worker

For a bit more context on the original processes feature, you can read our community announcement.