1. XNAT Plugin Model

  2. Select & Download Plugins

  3. Installation Environment

  4. Run XNAT with Docker Compose

XNAT Plugin Model

XNAT provides a rich set of features and functions for managing imaging data. It is designed to be extensible and customizable and supports plugins that extend features and functions in core XNAT:

A plugin is a compiled, self-contained package separate from your XNAT server but installed into the XNAT plugins folder. Once installed, the plugin runs in the same process space with XNAT as a fully integrated extension to the core XNAT server.

Plugins are written and contributed by the core XNAT team, the PIXI development team and by individual sites with specific needs that are not found in core XNAT.

Select & Download Plugins

Plugins are Java jar files that are added to the operating environment during the installation process. You can select and download the jar files as part of preparation for installation.

The PIXI plugin contains the essential software that extends XNAT for preclinical imaging. Please include that plugin as part of the installation process. The table below lists other plugins commonly used in the PIXI environment. These are available on the XNAT Downloads Page.




Highly Recommended

Container Service

Highly Recommended

Batch Launch

Extends Container Service

JupyterHub Integration

XNAT/Python Integrated Environment

Note that Container Service is required for using PIXI’s hotel image splitting feature.

Installation Environment

XNAT can be deployed to support different environments ranging from a single user running on a laptop to a larger, enterprise-level system. This section provides overviews of the small and large environments.

  • The Dockerized version of XNAT can run on both Docker Desktop and the professional versions of Docker. XNAT provides a Docker Compose file that defines the environment for running the application. This is an appropriate environment for individuals to run on their laptop or desktop for evaluation and can also serve as the basis for a larger deployment. Instructions for this environment are provided in the next section.

  • Users with IT support who want a system that is available to a larger audience will want to understand the XNAT Administration documentation. This describes an environment where the XNAT software is running as a system service in a Linux environment and is available 24x7. Instructions are included for managing user authentication using an LDAP server (Windows Active Directory) and/or running XNAT behind a firewall with HTTPS-protected connections. For the steps listed on the XNAT Installation Guide page.

We recommend starting with the Dockerized version. You will have a functioning PIXI system within a few minutes and can learn the administrative functions and the application itself before investing more time with a production installation.

Run XNAT with Docker Compose

Use the following steps to quickly deploy an XNAT with the PIXI plugin using Docker Compose on your local system. You will need to have git and Docker installed as well as Docker Compose, which is typically included when you install Docker.

  1. Clone the xnat-docker-compose repository:

git clone
cd xnat-docker-compose
  1. Put any XNAT plugin jars you want to use in the xnat/plugins folder. Note you do not need to download the XNAT war file. It will be included as part of the Docker container.

    PIXI can be dowloaded with the following command:

wget -q -P ./xnat/plugins/

Other helpful plugins can be downloaded with the following commands:

wget -q -P ./xnat/plugins/
wget -q -P ./xnat/plugins/
wget -q -P ./xnat/plugins/
  1. Initialize the XNAT docker compose environment variables. Review the .env file and make changes as appropriate.

cp default.env .env
  1. Start XNAT with Docker Compose in detached mode:

docker compose up -d
  1. Browse to http://localhost and login with username/password admin/admin. After logging in, you will be prompted to setup your XNAT instance. The default values are sufficient for a local installation. XNAT Setup - First Time Configuration has detailed instructions if you need them.