Beginners Guide to Install Discourse on Ubuntu for Development

:warning: This guide covers installation instructions in development environment, for a production guide see: How to install Discourse in production (Discourse official install / standard install)


So you want to set up Discourse on Ubuntu to hack on and develop with?

We’ll assume that you don’t have Ruby/Rails/Postgres/Redis installed on your Ubuntu system. Let’s begin!

Although this guide assumes that you are using Ubuntu, but the set-up instructions will work fine for any Debian based distribution.

This guide has been confirmed to be working without the use of any additional steps on Ubuntu 18.

:exclamation: Depending on what version of Ubuntu/Debian you’re using to install Discourse, you may want to review the following:

Notes about Installing Discourse on Ubuntu 20.04 or later

By default, Ubuntu version 20.04 comes preinstalled with OpenSSL 3.0.2. You’ll likely want to compile an earlier version of OpenSSL from source (we recommend OpenSSL-1.1.1n). You’ll also want to check what version of Ruby you’re using with ruby --version Discourse still uses Ruby 2, so if you’re using Ruby 3.x or later you’ll need to use an earlier version. We recommend using a version manager for Ruby here, and we’ve found that Ruby 2.7.6 is currently the best version to use with Discourse. See Notes about Installing Discourse on Ubuntu 20.04 for more details about this.

Ubuntu 22.04 Warning for Early Adopters

This section added by @pfaffman 22.05.16 and should one day be wrong and the suggestion unnecessary.

NOTE: This won’t work for Ubuntu 22.04 just yet. If you are forced to use 22.04 (I was using Pop! OS), see Failed to build ruby 2.7.5 on ubuntu 22.04 · Discussion #1940 · rbenv/ruby-build · GitHub for how to compile a compatible version of openssl.

End of @pfaffman additions.

Install Discourse Dependencies

As regular user run this script in terminal, to setup Rails development environment:-

bash <(wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/discourse/install-rails/master/linux)

This will install following new packages on your system:

In case you have any of this package pre-installed and don’t want to run entire script, see the script and pick the packages you don’t have currently installed. The script is fine-tuned for Discourse, and includes all the packages required for Discourse installation.

Now that we have installed Discourse dependencies, let’s move on to install Discourse itself.

Clone Discourse

Clone the Discourse repository in ~/discourse folder:

git clone https://github.com/discourse/discourse.git ~/discourse

~ indicates home folder, so Discourse source code will be available in your home folder.

Setup Database

Create role with the same name as your ubuntu system username:

sudo -u postgres createuser -s "$USER"

Bootstrap Discourse

Switch to your Discourse folder:

cd ~/discourse

Install the needed gems

source ~/.bashrc
bundle install

Now that you have successfully installed gems, run these commands:

bundle exec rake db:create 
bundle exec rake db:migrate
RAILS_ENV=test bundle exec rake db:create db:migrate

Try running the specs:

bundle exec rake autospec

All the tests should pass.

Start rails server:

bundle exec rails server

You should now be able to connect with your Discourse app on http://localhost:3000 - try it out!

Starting with Discourse 2.5+ EmberCLI is required in development and these additional steps will be required:

In a separate terminal instance, navigate to your discourse folder (cd ~/discourse) and run:

bin/ember-cli

You should now be able to navigate to http://localhost:4200 to see your local Discourse installation.

Create New Admin

To create a new admin, run the following command:

RAILS_ENV=development bundle exec rake admin:create

Follow the prompts, and a new admin account will be created.

Configure Mail

Run MailHog:

mailhog

Congratulations! You are now the admin of your own Discourse installation!

Happy hacking! And to get started with that, see Beginner’s Guide to Creating Discourse Plugins.


Last Reviewed by @AlexDev on 2022-05-26T19:00:00Z

42 Likes
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If “Ruby 2.7.6 is currently the best version to use with Discourse” then why 2.7.1 is in the install script? Should that be updated?

1 Like

discourse/DEVELOPER-ADVANCED.md at main · discourse/discourse · GitHub is a useful addition to this, oxipng and potentially some more is missing from the install script linked here.

After reading all availabe docs I still have 20-30 failing tests, depending on the random seed. Is there anyone who could assist me?

I see, yeah it needs updating, sent a PR

2 Likes

Hi, I followed the guide using Ubuntu 18.04.6 LTS and the forum seems to have installed fine. I can open the site using localhost:4200. The problem is that I cannot log in. I’m supposed to receive activation emails for admin and my user accounts but didn’t get any. I ran mailhog. I’m sure there’s some config missing. How should I go about this?

Did you create an Admin User?

1 Like

Thanks, I executed that command before but missed the assigned admin username; it comes from the domain of the email I specify. Now I can login using the admin account.

3 Likes

How much time should this take? it has been running since hours
$bundle exec rails server

what should be the final output?

2 Likes

you can run the rails server and the ember-cli in two separate terminals and then you can go to your browser and access the dev instance

I personally use this guide, because it is less hassle to set things up:

but you are already done installing the dependencies so it should be fine too.

2 Likes

It doesn’t ever stop (of its own accord). It is not a script that has a definite end. It’s the server. If it stopped it would no longer be able to serve requests. What you are seeing is the ongoing activity of the server that is being shared with the terminal.

3 Likes