Is Discourse Still Free to Self Host?


Both the Discourse Git Hub Page and discourse pricing page say “Discourse is 100% free and open source.”

If I host it myself is it really free? Are there any commercial restrictions?

I’ve seen this question covered in lots of old posts but nothing recent / from the past few years so wanted to double check.



The platform itself is still open source and free but you have to pay for a server and e-mail service for it to work.



That’s right, Discourse is fully open-source, and if you host yourself, it’s 100% free with no restrictions.

You can install it by following this guide: discourse/docs/ at main · discourse/discourse · GitHub. :+1:


No news is good news :wink: – the core Discourse is (still) licensed under GPL-2:

We firmly believe any new Discourse sites is a boon, whether we host or not!


If you’re planning to launch a new site it helps to have 2GB of memory instead of just one, otherwise you may have difficulty updating the app through the web interface or even command line rebuilds sometimes fail with error 137 for not enough memory at only 1GB. Adding more swap can help.

The documentation still reads that 1GB is good for minor communities, but they might want to change that to 2 one day unless app is refined to work better with less memory. Have read there have been some significant changes to the core system over the past year or so.

2 GB memory servers are typically about 12-14$ u.s.d. per month, double 1GB server which can be $6 or less a month.

For e-mail sending mailgun still has a free/flex plan for less than 1,000 e-mails a month, but they aren’t really advertising that to sign up for a new account with them is $35 a month standard, but then you can contact support to downgrade to free account that won’t charge you unless you go past the 1k e-mails a month threshold.

Other e-mail senders may be better, one I use is Proton Mail for $13 a month business plan is compatible with discourse but that may not be recommended or supported.

For online upgrades you now need at least 4GB + 4GB swap imho, because compiling assets whilst simultaneously running the site now requires much more memory.

If you are ok doing command line upgrades only, then 2GB (+ significant swap: 4GB?) might be ok … but I’ve not really tested that personally recently as I’ve moved all my sites to 4GB servers.

In any case you are right: that 1GB statement is really out of date.


Rebuilds did work for me with only 2 GB of memory recently with the web interface for new sites without any users, but good to know 4 GB is recommended, is that for fairly busy/active sites you need that much memory?

Just opened this topic about that. Really hoping we can keep 1GB as the minimum :crossed_fingers: