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How to Install Plausible Analytics on Debian 11

Author: Humphrey Mpairwe

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 10, 2022
Debian System Admin Web Servers

Plausible Analytics is a free, open-source, self-hosted web traffic measuring application that allows you to track website visitors and sessions within a single web dashboard. It is lightweight, privacy-focused, simple to use, and works by adding a single line of code in your website's head section.

In this article, you will learn how to install Plausible Analytics on a Debian 11 server.

Prerequisites

Installation

Clone the Plausible Analytics GitHub repository to a new directory named plausible.

$ sudo git clone https://github.com/plausible/hosting plausible

Move the files to a system-wide directory like /usr/local.

$ sudo mv plausible/ /usr/local

Switch to the files directory.

$ cd plausible/

Then, use OpenSSL to generate a new random secret key.

$ openssl rand -base64 64 | tr -d '\n' ; echo

The command will output a 64 character key. Copy it to your clipboard.

Next, open and edit the file plausible-conf.env.

$ sudo nano plausible-conf.env

Below are the file placeholder entries:

ADMIN_USER_EMAIL=replace-me
ADMIN_USER_NAME=replace-me
ADMIN_USER_PWD=replace-me
BASE_URL=replace-me
SECRET_KEY_BASE=replace-me

Replace them with your administrator username, strong 8-character password, and the generated secret key to set up Plausible.

Save and close the file.

Now, use docker-compose to download and configure necessary dependencies for the Plausible Analytics container.

$ sudo $ docker-compose up -d

The above command will create new Postgres and ClickHouse databases for user data, statistics respectively. Then, set up the administrator account, and start Plausible on port 8000.

Configure Nginx as a Reverse Proxy

Create a new Nginx configuration file.

$ sudo nano /etc/nginx/conf.d/analytics.conf

Paste the following contents to the file, replacing analytics.example.com with your actual subdomain.

server {
listen       80;
listen       [::]:80;
server_name  analytics.example.com;

access_log  /var/log/nginx/plausible.access.log;
error_log   /var/log/nginx/plausible.error.log;

location / {
  proxy_pass http://localhost:8000;
  proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
 }
     }

Save and close the file.

Test Nginx for any configuration errors.

$ sudo nginx -t

Output:

nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

Restart Nginx.

$ sudo service nginx restart

Configure Firewall

Allow HTTP Traffic.

$ sudo ufw allow 80/tcp 

Allow HTTPS Traffic on port 443.

$ sudo ufw allow 443/tcp

Reload Firewall to enable the new rules.

$ sudo ufw reload

Install SSL Certificates

Install Certbot if not already installed.

$ sudo apt install certbot python3-certbot-nginx

Then, run the following command replacing analytics.example.com, user@example.com with your actual subdomain and email address, respectively.

$ sudo certbot -d analytics.example.com -m user@example.com --agree-tos

If your subdomain is pointed to the server, an SSL certificate will be installed, and the Nginx configuration file will be modified with the new settings.

Login to Your Plausible Analytics Server

You have successfully installed and configured Plausible Analytics to run on your server. Test the installation by visiting your subdomain.

https://analytics.example.com

Log in with the administrator username and password set earlier. Once successful, click Add Site, then copy the listed tracking code, and paste it in your website <head> </head> section.

Plausible Analytics Dashboard

In case of any runtime errors, view the Plausible container logs from your terminal window using the following command:

$ docker logs plausible_plausible_1

If there are no errors, your output should be similar to:

Loading plausible..
Starting dependencies..
Starting repos..
create Plausible.Repo database if it doesn't exist
create Plausible.ClickhouseRepo database if it doesn't exist
Creation of Db successful!
Loading plausible..
Starting dependencies..
Starting repos..
Running migrations for Elixir.Plausible.Repo
Running migrations for Elixir.Plausible.ClickhouseRepo
Migrations successful!
Loading plausible..
Starting dependencies..
Starting repos..
Admin user created successful!

Congratulations, you have successfully installed Plausible Analytics on a Debian 11 server, you can add multiple websites and securely track them through the Plausible backend dashboard. To receive analytics reports via email, verify that port 25 is open on your server.

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