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Talkyard production installation

For one single server: Debian 11 or 12 with at least 2 GB RAM.

Docker based installation. Automatic upgrades. Automatic HTTPS cert (via LetsEncrypt). One installation can host many sites.

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.

Install on your laptop?

Here's a Vagrantfile here if you want to test install on a laptop — open the Vagrantfile in a text editor, and read, for details. (It's old, maybe won't work.)

Install behind an Nginx reverse proxy?

Skip this, unless you know what a "reverse proxy" is; instead, continue below, the section "Install on a new server". Now, if you do want to install Talkyard on a Debian or Ubuntu server with a Nginx reverse proxy in front of it, with a LetsEncrypt cert — then, here's a mini tutorial. The steps 1, 2, 3 ... in that tutorial, are the steps 1, 2, 3 ... below.

Install on a new server

The rest of this document is about how to install Talkyard on a new server.

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 and a Web address

Provision an Debian 11 or 12 server with at least 2 GB RAM, for example at Digital Ocean.

Point a domain name, say,, to the server IP address.

Installation instructions

(There's a troubleshooting document here: ./docs/ )

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

    # As root:
    apt-get update
    apt-get upgrade
    apt-get -y install git vim locales
    apt-get -y install tree ncdu                # nice to have
    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. Create big empty files that you can delete if your server runs out of disk:

    fallocate --length 250MiB /balloon-1-delete-if-disk-full
    fallocate --length 250MiB /balloon-2-delete-if-disk-full
    fallocate --length 250MiB /opt/balloon-3-delete-if-disk-full
    fallocate --length 250MiB /var/balloon-4-delete-if-disk-full
  3. Download installation scripts: (you need to install in /opt/talkyard/ for the backup scripts to work)

    cd /opt/
    git clone talkyard
    cd talkyard
  4. If you want & know what you're doing, comment out any swap from /etc/fstab, and run: swapoff -a.

  5. Prepare the OS: install tools, enable automatic security updates, simplify troubleshooting, and make ElasticSearch work: (Consider reading the script first...)

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

    (...If you don't want to run the 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.)

  6. Install Docker:

    ./scripts/ 2>&1 | tee -a talkyard-maint.log
  7. 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)

    Update 2021-04-04: It's better if you use firewalld instead — it's safer: Docker can bypas ufw rules, but not firewalld rules. Read more here:, and you can websearch:

    # It's better if you use firewalld instead of this:
    # (We'll edit the script in a while, so it'll use firewalld instead,
    # but currently it uses ufw)
    ./scripts/ 2>&1 | tee -a talkyard-maint.log

    Here's firewalld:

  8. Edit config values:

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


    • Set, so HTTPS will work — unless you're testing on localhost; then set
    • 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.
  9. 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
  10. 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

    (This creates a new Docker network — you can choose the IP range; see the section A New Docker Network below.)

    Afterwards, you can type: docker-compose ps — you should then see a list of Docker containers in state Up (means they're running).

  11. 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
  12. Open a web browser; go to https://talkyard.your — note: https not http.

    Your browser should show a warning about the connection not being secure. Talkyard and LetsEncrypt will now start generating a HTTPS certificate for you. Wait 20 seconds, reload the page, and thereafter HTTPS should work.

    ( If you'd look in the Nginx log, tail -f /var/log/nginx/error.log, you'd see messages like:

    domain_whitelist_callback(): Should have cert:
    update_cert_handler(): order rsa cert for
    SSL_do_handshake() failed (SSL: error:... alert bad certificate: SSL alert number 42) while SSL handshaking
    Replying to ACME HTTP-01 challenge, server name: _, host:
    update_cert_handler(): new rsa cert for is saved

    (The "failed ... alert number 42" is fine — it's because, at that time, there wasn't yet any cert.) )

    However, if you're testing on localhost, or with Vagrant, instead go to http://localhost, or http://localhost:8080, respectively. (And you'll need in play-framework.conf).

  13. 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.

Everything will restart automatically on server reboot.

Next steps:

  • Edit /opt/talkyard/conf/sites-enabled-manual/talkyard-servers.conf and redirect from HTTP to HTTPS.
    (If you for some reason want to run LetsEncrypt's Certbot yourself to generate a HTTPS cert, see docs/, and have a look at the commented out server {} block at the bottom of talkyard-servers.conf.)
  • 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. Or subscribe to the Announcements category over at
  • 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.
  • Optionally, create more Talkyard sites hosted by this same Talkyard installation, see docs/multisite-talkyard.adoc.

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

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

See docs/

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 off-site backup server, regularly. Otherwise, if your main server suddenly disappears, or someone breaks into it and ransomware-encrypts everything — you'd lose all data.

There's also a script you can copy-paste to that off-site backup server, and run daily via Cron, to get notified via email if backups stop working — but no, not yet implmented [BADBKPEML].

See docs/

A new Docker network

Talkyard creates its own Docker network, and assigns static IPs to the containers. Otherwise, if a container restarts, Docker might give it a new IP, and the other containers then couldn't find it it. — Unless they're also restarted, so all things that have cached the old stale IP, picks up the new IP instead. Or unless one starts using something like Traefik. But static IPs is simpler.

You can choose the network IP range in the .env file — there's this variable:



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) 2016-2020 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.