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Talkyard production installation on one single server.
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Talkyard production installation

For one single server: Ubuntu 18.04 with at least 2 GB RAM.

Docker based installation. Automatic upgrades. You can configure HTTPS via LetsEncrypt. One installation can host many sites.

If however you already have a Docker-Compose or Docker Swarm installation with a HTTPS reverse proxy, and want to add Talkyard to it, then have a look at:

You should be familiar with Linux, Bash and Git. Otherwise you might run into problems. For example, there might be Git edit conflicts, if you and we change the same file — then you need to know how to resolve those edit conflicts. Also, knowing a bit about Docker can be good. See for alternatives to installing yourself.

Ask questions and report problems in the forum. This is beta software; there might be bugs.

If you'd like to test install on your laptop, there's a Vagrantfile here — open it in a text editor, and read, for details.

Installation overview: You'll rent a virtual private server (VPS) somewhere, then download and install Talkyard, then sign up for a send-emails service and configure email settings. Then optionally configure OpenAuth login for Google, Facebook, Twitter, GitHub. And off-site backups.

Dockerfiles, build scripts and source code are in another repo: Have a look in ./docker-compose.yml (in this repo) for details and links.

Get a server

Provision an Ubuntu 18.04 server with at least 2 GB RAM, for example at Digital Ocean.

Installation instructions

  1. Become root: sudo -i, then install Git and English: (can be missing, in minimal Ubuntu builds)

    # As root:
    apt-get update
    apt-get -y install git vim locales
    locale-gen en_US.UTF-8                      # installs English
    export LC_ALL=en_US.UTF-8 LANG=en_US.UTF-8  # starts using English (warnings are harmless)
  2. Download installation scripts: (you need to install in /opt/talkyard/ for the backup scripts to work)

    cd /opt/
    git clone talkyard
    cd talkyard
  3. Prepare Ubuntu: install tools, enable automatic security updates, simplify troubleshooting, and make ElasticSearch work:

    ./scripts/ 2>&1 | tee -a talkyard-maint.log

    (If you don't want to run this whole script, you at least need to copy the sysctl net.core.somaxconn and vm.max_map_count settings in the script to your /etc/sysctl.conf config file — otherwise, the full-text-search-engine (ElasticSearch) won't work. Afterwards, run sysctl --system to reload the system configuration.)

  4. Install Docker:

    ./scripts/ 2>&1 | tee -a talkyard-maint.log
  5. Install a firewall, namely ufw: (and answer Yes to the question you'll get. You can skip this if you use Google Cloud Engine; GCE already has a firewall)

    ./scripts/ 2>&1 | tee -a talkyard-maint.log
  6. Edit config values:

    nano conf/play-framework.conf  # fill in values in the Required Settings section
    nano .env                      # type a database password


    • If you don't edit play.http.secret.key in play-framework.conf, the server won't start.
    • A PostgreSQL database user, named talkyard, gets created automatically, by the rdb Docker container, with the password you type in the .env file. You don't need to do anything.
    • If you're using a non-standard port, say 8080 (which you do if you're using Vagrant), then comment in talkyard.port=8080 in play-framework.conf.
  7. Depending on how much RAM your server has (run free -mh to find out), choose one of these files: mem/1.7g.yml, mem/2g.yml, mem/3.6g.yml, ... and so on, and copy it to ./docker-compose.override.yml. For example, for a server with 2 GB RAM:

     cp mem/2g.yml docker-compose.override.yml
  8. Install and start the latest version. This might take a few minutes the first time (to download Docker images).

     # This script also installs, although named "upgrade–...".
     ./scripts/ 2>&1 | tee -a talkyard-maint.log
  9. Schedule deletion of old log files, daily backups and deletion old backups, and automatic upgrades:

     ./scripts/ 2>&1 | tee -a talkyard-maint.log
     ./scripts/ 2>&1 | tee -a talkyard-maint.log
     ./scripts/ 2>&1 | tee -a talkyard-maint.log
  10. Point a browser to the server address, e.g. http://your-ip-addresss or or http://localhost. Or http://localhost:8080 if you're testing with Vagrant.

    In the browser, click Continue and create an admin account with the email address you specified when you edited play-framework.conf earlier (see above). Follow the getting-started guide ...

    ... Or maybe you'd like to enable HTTPS before you click Continue and submit your email address? See the Next Steps just below.

Everything will restart automatically on server reboot.

Next steps:

  • Do not enable HTTP2, currently doesn't work with Nginx + the Lua module (apparently this error happens).
  • Enable HTTPS, see docs/
  • Sign up for a send-email-service — see the section just below.
  • Send an email to hello at so we get your address, and can inform you about security issues and major software upgrades that might require you to do something manually.
  • Copy backups off-site, regularly. See the Backups section below.
  • Configure Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, GitHub login, by creating OpenAuth apps over at their sites, and adding API keys and secrets to play-framework.conf. See below, just after the next section, about email.

Configuring email

If you don't have a mail server already, then sign up for a transactional email service, for example Mailgun, Elastic Email, SendGrid, Mailjet or Amazon SES. (Signing up, and verifying your sender email address and domain, is a bit complicated — nothing you do in five minutes.)

Then, configure email settings in /opt/talkyard/conf/play-framework.conf, that is, fill in these values:"..."

(Google Cloud Engine blocks outgoing ports 587 and 465 (at least it did in the past). Probably you email provider has made other ports available for you to use, e.g. Amazon SES: ports 2587 and 2465.)

OpenAuth login

Probably you want login with Facebook, Gmail and maybe Twitter and GitHub to work. Here's how.

However, we haven't written easy to follow instructions for this yet. Send us an email: hello at, mention OpenAuth, and we'll hurry up.

(There are very very brief instructions in this the markdown source but they might be out of date, or there might be typos, so they're hidden unless you are a tech person who knows how to view the source.)

Viewing log files

Change directory to /opt/talkyard/.

Then, view the application server logs like so: ./view-logs app or ./view-logs -f --tail 30 app.
The web server: tail -f /var/log/nginx/{access,error}.log (mounted on the Docker host in docker-compose.yml)
The database: less /var/log/postgres/LOG_FILE_NAME
The search engine: ./view-logs search.

Upgrading to newer versions

If you followed the instructions above — that is, if you ran these scripts: ./scripts/ and ./scripts/ — then your server should keep itself up-to-date, and ought to require no maintenance.

In a few cases you might have to do something manually, when upgrading. Like, running git pull and editing config files, maybe running a shell script. For us to be able to tell you about this, please send us an email at hello at

If you didn't run ./scripts/, you can upgrade manually like so:

sudo -i
cd /opt/talkyard/
./scripts/ 2>&1 | tee -a talkyard-maint.log


Importing a backup

You can import a Postgres database backup like so: (you need to stop the 'app' container, otherwise the import will fail because of active database connections)

sudo -i
docker-compose stop app
zcat /opt/talkyard-backups/BACKUP_FILE.gz \
  | docker exec -i $(docker-compose ps -q rdb) psql postgres postgres \
  | tee -a talkyard-maint.log
docker-compose start app

Replace BACKUP_FILE above with the actual file name.

TODO: Explain how to import the uploaded-files backup archive...

You can login to Postgres like so:

sudo docker-compose exec rdb psql postgres postgres  # as user 'postgres'
sudo docker-compose exec rdb psql talkyard talkyard  # as user 'talkyard'

Backing up, manually

You should have configured automatic backups already, see the Installation Instructions section above. In any case, you can backup manually like so:

sudo -i
cd /opt/talkyard/
./scripts/ manual 2>&1 | tee -a talkyard-maint.log

Copy backups elsewhere

You should copy the backups to a safety backup server, regularly. Otherwise, if your main server suddenly disappears, or someone breaks into it and ransomware-encrypts everything — then you'd lose all your data.

See docs/


If you start running out of disk, one reason can be old patches for automatic operating system security updates. You can delete them to free up disk:

sudo apt autoremove --purge

Docker mounted directories

  • conf/: Container config files, mounted read-only in the containers. Can add to a Git repo.
  • data/: Directories mounted read-write in the containers (and sometimes read-only too). Not for Git.

License (MIT)

Copyright (c) 2016-2019 Debiki AB and Kaj Magnus Lindberg.

Licensed under the MIT license, see `LICENSE-MIT.txt` — and this is for the
instructions and scripts in this repository only, not for Talkyard source code
or things in other repositories.
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