Is Discourse free or not?

Hi everyone,

I like how Discourse looks and would like it on my new, tiny personal site if possible. The main homepage for Discourse boldly says “Free” but every link I subsequently follow (like this or this) talks about $10/month on a Digital Ocean server.

Is it free or not? Am I missing something here?

Thanks if you can help!

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Yes, the software is 100% free – cloud server time may not be free however. Follow the install guide at




you are pointing me at one of the pages that I just said only talks about paying.

to save you time, it has a link to another page

which is the other link I pointed to

that also only talks about paying.

the freelance programmer making my site insisted Discourse is not for free, when I told her to get it free at because of what its homepage said.

But, like her, I can’t find the free version anywhere either.

sometimes I am pretty sure the internet is an alternate reality whose purpose is to frustrate me, lol

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Discourse is open-source. Meaning its completely free to host it yourself, but you still need a way to host it, which isn’t free. If you had a spare computer with linux in your house, then you could host it on there fairly easily via Docker without paying a cent, (aside from power, internet, etc), so yes its Free. Hosting somewhere public like a VPS obviously costs, but discourse itself does not cost.



But where is it?

The free Discourse

Do I need to go through the page that always gets linked to, line by line, to show how not a single one appears to be a link to a free Discourse?

Maybe it’s buried somewhere in all the tweets about Digital Ocean?

I don’t mean to be whatever. But I think that the community here is not aware what that page looks like to outsiders.

I still see it only talking about paying. And supporting info.

Where’s a link to Discourse??

Could it be - maybe - it’s that Docker line? That would be really goofy. I am definitely not looking for Docker. I am looking for Discourse.

I guess the copy could more explicitly state that the expense is for hosting costs.

Discourse - the software - is both free and open-source.
Downloadable at

That is, you can get the Core code for free (no money), and you can “hack” the Core code and write code to work with the Core code if you so decide to - free as in free to write code different or in addition to the Core code.

It could also be said that this forum is free support. It can not be expected that support obtained here will always be the same as paid support, but IMHO it’s very close to it.

As posted by others, hosting is not provided for free by the CDCK (Civilized Discourse Construction Kit)


It is also linking to a page that says right at its very top,

  • Create New Cloud Server

  • Sign up for DigitalOcean, update billing info, then create your new cloud server.

Obviously this is not the free Discourse page either. You must submit billing info to do anything past that point.

Because the forum need to be hosted somewhere, if you have your own server at home, you can install it free with your own disk storage, ram, cpu, optical fiber etc !

But if you don’t have this, the forum will be hosted on a external storage compagny like Digital Ocean or OVH etc and this is not free because they gave you a distant machine (cpu, ram, disk storage) and you can do what you want with it like installing discourse forum :slight_smile:


Discourse is free and open source

Source code is available at GitHub - discourse/discourse: A platform for community discussion. Free, open, simple.