How to Deploy a Let's Chat Server on Debian 10

Last Updated: Fri, May 8, 2020
Debian Web Servers

Let's Chat is a free, open-source application that provides self-hosted messaging to small teams. In this article, we will install Let's Chat on a Debian 10 (Buster) Vultr instance.

Prerequisites

1. Install Prerequisite Software

Git

Install Git, which will be used to clone the repository from Github.

$ sudo apt install git -y

NodeJS

Let's Chat is written in NodeJS. Install the latest version of NodeJS and the Node Package Manager.

$ sudo apt install nodejs npm -y

Nginx

Install Nginx, which is used as a reverse proxy.

$ sudo apt install nginx -y

MongoDB

Let's Chat uses the MongoDB database, which is not in the official Debian repository.

Add the MongoDB repository

Install the utilities required to add the MongoDB repository.

$ sudo apt install dirmngr gnupg apt-transport-https software-properties-common ca-certificates curl -y 

Add the MongoDB key.

$ curl -fsSL https://www.mongodb.org/static/pgp/server-4.2.asc | sudo apt-key add -

Add the MongoDB repository.

$ sudo add-apt-repository 'deb https://repo.mongodb.org/apt/debian buster/mongodb-org/4.2 main'

Update the package list.

$ sudo apt update

Install MongoDB

Install the mongodb-org meta-package.

$ sudo apt install mongodb-org -y

Restart the service and enable it to run at boot.

$ sudo systemctl start mongod
$ sudo systemctl enable mongod

2. Install Let's Chat

Install Let's Chat to /opt, which is the standard location for packages not officially offered via package manager.

$ cd /opt
$ sudo git clone https://github.com/sdelements/lets-chat.git
$ cd lets-chat
$ sudo npm install

Configure Let's Chat

Let's Chat comes with a sample settings file that contains reasonable defaults. If you would like to configure Let's Chat, modify settings.yml. For this tutorial, copy the default settings in settings.yml.sample to settings.yml.

$ sudo cp settings.yml.sample settings.yml

3. Run Let's Chat with Forever

Launch Let's Chat to test the installation.

$ cd /opt/lets-chat
$ npm start

The output should match:

██╗     ███████╗████████╗███████╗     ██████╗██╗  ██╗ █████╗ ████████╗
██║     ██╔════╝╚══██╔══╝██╔════╝    ██╔════╝██║  ██║██╔══██╗╚══██╔══╝
██║     █████╗     ██║   ███████╗    ██║     ███████║███████║   ██║
██║     ██╔══╝     ██║   ╚════██║    ██║     ██╔══██║██╔══██║   ██║
███████╗███████╗   ██║   ███████║    ╚██████╗██║  ██║██║  ██║   ██║
╚══════╝╚══════╝   ╚═╝   ╚══════╝     ╚═════╝╚═╝  ╚═╝╚═╝  ╚═╝   ╚═╝

Release 0.4.8

Press CTRL+C to exit Let's Chat.

Install forever.

$ sudo npm install forever -g

Start Let's Chat with forever application to run in the background.

$ cd /opt/lets-chat
$ forever start app.js

Test the Let's Chat installation. This pipes wget through grep to search for the HTML title. If Let's Chat is working properly, you'll see the title tag displayed.

$ wget -qO - http://localhost:5000/ | grep "Let's Chat"
    <title>Login &middot; Let's Chat</title>

4. Configure Nginx as a Reverse Proxy

This tutorial uses Nginx as a reverse proxy to make the website externally accessible.

Configure Nginx

Create the Nginx configuration file.

$ sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/lets_chat

Insert the following lines:

server {
    server_name lets_chat;
    listen 80;

    access_log /var/log/nginx/lets_chat-access.log;
    error_log /var/log/nginx/lets_chat-error.log;

    location / {
        proxy_set_header   X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header   Host      $host;
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_set_header   Upgrade $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header   Connection 'upgrade';
        proxy_cache_bypass $http_upgrade;
        proxy_pass         http://127.0.0.1:5000;
    }

}

Create a symbolic link to activate the reverse proxy.

$ sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/lets_chat /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/lets_chat

Remove the default Nginx welcome page.

$ sudo rm /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default

Enable Nginx

Restart Nginx and enable it to run at boot.

$ sudo systemctl restart nginx.service
$ sudo systemctl enable nginx.service

5. Test the Installation

Visit your server's IP address in your browser (for example, http://192.0.2.123) to access Let's Chat. To make an account, click the "I need an account" link. See the official wiki for full documentation and configuration information.

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