Discourse must be the only software on the server?

Hi! So i spent all last week finding a new host and migrating my sites to a cloud server so that i could install Discourse alongside, only to discover that Discourse has to be the only thing on the server. Is this true?

Here’s how i arrived at that conclusion:

  • i tried to follow the install guide and got stuck on Step 1
  • sought help in a Linux Discord server, and they said the Redhat kernel on my server was many versions behind and was no longer supported
  • i asked the new host what was up, and the tech support guy said “you’re running CPanel.” Me: “So?” Him: “So you can’t run CPanel and Discourse. Discourse would wipe out CPanel. It has to be installed on its own server.”

i’ll freely admit i have no idea what i’m doing dog in a tie.jpg, but i do kind of understand how computers work, and i think i understand that computers can run multiple pieces of software at the same time. So what’s the story? Do i really need a separate, devoted server at $20/mo to run Discourse?

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It’s easier to use a separate server. A $10 droplet is enough for a small community. See Running other websites on the same machine as Discourse to have discourse and other sites of a single server.


Verily? Because the DigitalOcean product that meets Discourse’s minimum specs is $20.

Yes. The digital ocean is click install requires a 2gb, 1gb is enough with swap (and swap is also recommended with a 2gb droplet, which I don’t think the 1-click install does). If you’re running anything else with Discourse, you want at least 2gb.

I’ve done over a hundred for my clients as described here: $99 Discourse Install – Literate Computing, LLC. There is a FAQ section that answers many questions.


By default, the Discourse container wants to listen on port 80/443 (this is what app.yml exposes). You can also go the route to just use a web proxy in front (Apache, Nginx) which forwards all requests to a local socket. Discourse provides the websockets template already, which for example only needs some adjustments in proxy itself then. This also is the location where you configure SSL then.

I’m doing this for monitoring-portal.org where the web server also provides access to an archived forum container. More about the setup details and docs here:


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Well, a computer can run multiple pieces of software… if that piece of software is designed (or adapted) for that computer’s OS. You can’t run Apple OS X software such as ScreenFlow on a Windows OS (and vice versa).

Same principle applies to web servers.

The “OS”, hardware specs, database type is different for running a Wordpress website compared to running a Discourse forum. I’m no network, web programming expert, this is just my novice way of explaining this.

If you are running a Wordpress site (or any other cms like Drupal, Joomla, etc.), and you want to run a Discourse forum on the same domain name, you would do that by having Wordpress run on one server and Discourse on another. But… the way you connect to two is by having Wordpress run one lets say the domain name mywebsite(.)com, and have Discourse run on a sub-domain discourse.mywebsite(.)com.

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cpanel is VERY invasive - a server running cpanel is essentially its own distribution with EVERYTHING revolving around cpanel and it’s way of doing things. Which is fine if that’s what you need.

Nothing wrong with that, but consider that more complex systems are more likely to fail. In theory, you could make both work. If you know what you’re doing. But you wouldn’t want to. Heck, there’s no way I would want to try and get that working even if I could.

Not true, but from a black box point of view it might look like that (“now the only thing listening on the server is Discourse”!)

From a complexity and simplicity point of view, I strongly suggest keeping at least:

  • cpanel websites
  • everything else

on separate servers.


Me too. I missed the cpanel bit earlier.

I have a standard package for WP + Discourse on a $20/month droplet. I basically follow the instructions I linked to above, though I use Apache, as WordPress likes it better. If you have multiple other sites, that can be done as well.

Still, I’d recommend a standard install on its own $10/month droplet. If you can, use Ubuntu. It’ll be easier that way.