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Deploy your own Loomio

This repo contains a basic docker-compose configuration for running Loomio on your own server, with a domain name. If you just want a local install of Loomio with no domain, please follow the development handbook.

It assumes you want to run everything on a single host. It automatically issues an SSL certificate for you via the amazing

What you'll need

  • Root access to a server, on a public IP address, running a default configuration of Ubuntu 14.04 x64.

  • A domain name which you can create DNS records for.

  • An SMTP server for sending email. More on that below.

Network configuration

What hostname will you be using for your Loomio instance? What is the IP address of your server?

For the purposes of this example, the hostname will be and the IP address is

DNS Records

To allow people to access the site via your hostname you need an A record:


Loomio supports "Reply by email" and to enable this you need an MX record so mail servers know where to direct these emails.

MX,, priority 0

Configure the server

Login as root

To login to the server, open a terminal window and type:

ssh -A

Install docker and docker-compose

These commands install docker and docker-compose, copy and paste.

wget -qO- | sh
wget -O /usr/local/bin/docker-compose`uname -s`-`uname -m`
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/docker-compose

Clone the loomio-deploy git repository

This is the place where all the configuration for your Loomio services will live. In this step you make a copy of this repo, so that you can modify the settings to work for your particular setup.

As root on your server, clone this repo:

git clone
cd loomio-deploy

The commands below assume your working directory is this repo, on your server.

Setup a swapfile (optional)

There are some simple scripts within this repo to help you configure your server.

This script will create and mount a 4GB swapfile. If you have less than 2GB RAM on your server then this step is required.


Create your ENV files

This script creates env files configured for you. It also creates directories on the host to hold user data.

When you run this, remember to change to your hostname, and give your contact email address, so you can recover your SSL keys later if required.


Now have a look inside the files:

cat env

Usage reporting

By default your Loomio instance will report back to with the number of discussions, comments, polls, stances, users and visits that your site has had.

Once per day it will send those numbers and your hostname to us, so that we are able to measure Loomio usage around the world, so that we can tell what impact our work is having.

If you wish to disable this reporting function, add the following line to your env file


Setup SMTP

Loomio is technically broken if it cannot send email. In this step you need to edit your env file and configure the SMTP settings to get outbound email working.

So, you'll need an SMTP server. If you already have one, that's great, you know what to do. For everyone else here are some options to consider:

  • For setups that will send less than 99 emails a day use for free.

  • Look at the (sometimes free) services offered by SendGrid, SparkPost, Mailgun, Mailjet.

  • Soon we'll publish a guide to setting up your own private and secure SMTP server.

Edit the env file and enter the right SMTP settings for your setup.

You might need to add an SPF record to indicate that the SMTP can send mail for your domain.

nano env

Initialize the database

This command initializes a new database for your Loomio instance to use.

docker-compose run loomio rake db:setup

Install crontab

Doing this tells the server what regular tasks it needs to run. These tasks include:

  • Noticing which proposals are closing in 24 hours and notifying users.
  • Closing proposals and notifying users they have closed.
  • Sending "Yesterday on Loomio", a digest of activity users have not already read. This is sent to users at 6am in their local timezone.

The following command appends some lines of text onto the system crontab file.

cat crontab >> /etc/crontab

Sign in via third party

If you want to allow users to sign in via Google, Facebook, Twitter or Github, then you'll need to add APP_KEY and APP_SECRET env lines for each provider you wish to support.

You'll find env records for these providers commented out in your env file by default.

Here's how to get provider specific details

Starting the services

This command starts the database, application, reply-by-email, and live-update services all at once.

docker-compose up -d

You'll want to see the logs as it all starts, run the following command:

docker-compose logs

You might like to keep an additional console open by your side to watch for potential errors or warnings:

docker-compose logs -f

Try it out

visit your hostname in your browser.

Once you have signed in (and confirmed your email), grant yourself admin rights

docker-compose run loomio rails c
User.last.update(is_admin: true)

you can now access the admin interface at

If something goes wrong

Confirm env settings are correct.

After you change your env files you need to restart the system:

docker-compose down
docker-compose up -d

To update Loomio to the latest image you'll need to stop, rm, pull, apply potential changes to the database schema, and run again.

docker-compose down
docker-compose pull
docker-compose run loomio rake db:migrate
docker-compose up -d

From time to time, or if you are running out of disk space (check /var/lib/docker):

docker rmi $(docker images -f "dangling=true" -q)

To login to your running rails app console:

docker-compose run loomio rails console

A PostgreSQL shell to inspect the database:

docker exec -ti loomiodeploy_db_1 su - postgres -c 'psql loomio_production'

Building a backup policy

Most of the environment we have set up so far can be considered disposable, as it can be rebuilt from scratch in a few minutes.

Things you want to consider when designing a proper backup policy:

  • loomio-deploy/uploads
  • loomio-deploy/env

And a database dump:

docker exec -ti loomiodeploy_db_1 su - postgres -c 'pg_dump loomio_production' \
  | xz \
  > $(date +%Y-%m-%d_%H:%M).pg_dump.xz

Be sure you exclude loomio-deploy/pgdata — all you need from the database is in the dump.

Connecting the Slack app with your instance

Click here for more info on how to connect the loomio slack bot to your instance.

Need some help? Visit the Installing Loomio group.