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How to Install Discourse on Debian 9

Last Updated: Fri, Aug 17, 2018
Debian Linux Guides Server Apps
Archived content

This article is outdated and may not work correctly for current operating systems or software.

Discourse is a modern, open-source discussion and forum system. Visit the official site for a demo and a breakdown of the current feature set. This tutorial will teach you how to setup Discourse with Docker CE on Debian 9.

Create a new Vultr VPS

1GB of RAM is the minimum amount, although it is recommended to use at least 2GB of RAM.

Access your Vultr VPS as root

Connect to your server using SSH via the Terminal on Mac or PuTTY on Windows.

ssh root@

Replace with your server IP.

You will be prompted to type Yes or No to add the server's RSA fingerprint to your list of known hosts. Type Yes and hit ENTER.

Setup swap (only for 1GB install)

Create an empty swap file:

install -o root -g root -m 0600 /dev/null /swapfile

Write out a 1GB file named swapfile:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=1k count=1024k

Tell Linux that this is the swap file:

mkswap /swapfile

Activate it:

swapon /swapfile

Add it to the system table so that it is available after reboot:

echo "/swapfile swap swap auto 0 0" | tee -a /etc/fstab

Set the swappiness so that it is only used as an emergency buffer:

sysctl -w vm.swappiness=10


To install Docker CE, follow all of the steps of this guide.

Install Git.

apt update

apt install git -y

Make a folder called discourse in the /var directory:

mkdir /var/discourse

Clone the official Discourse Git repository in /var/discourse:

git clone /var/discourse

Go into the discourse directory:

cd /var/discourse

Launch the setup tool:


Answer the following questions when prompted:

Hostname for your Discourse? []: 

Email address for admin account(s)? [,]: 

SMTP server address? []: 

SMTP port? [587]: 

SMTP user name? []: 

SMTP password? [pa$$word]: 

Let's Encrypt account email? (ENTER to skip) []: 

This will generate an app.yml configuration file on your behalf, and then kick off bootstrap. If you need to change these settings after bootstrapping, you can run ./discourse-setup again (it will read your old values from the file) or edit containers/app.yml with Nano and then run ./launcher rebuild app for your changes to take effect.

Note: You must have your email settings setup properly for your site to work.

Congratulations, you now have your own instance of Discourse up and running. To access it, simply type the hostname ( you've configured into a web browser, and complete the configuration.

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