Running other websites on the same machine as Discourse

If you want to run other websites on the same machine as Discourse, you need to set up an extra NGINX or HAProxy proxy in front of the Docker container.

NOTE: This is for advanced admins

This guide assumes you already have Discourse working - if you don’t, it may be hard to tell whether or not the configuration is working.

You cannot use ./discourse-setup to set up Discourse if another server is using port 80 or 443. You will need to copy and edit samples/standalone.yml with your favorite text editor.

Install nginx outside the container

First, make sure the container is not running:

cd /var/discourse
./launcher stop app

Then install nginx:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install nginx

Change the container definition

This is where we change how Discourse actually gets set up. We don’t want the container listening on ports - instead, we’ll tell it to listen on a special file.

Change your /var/discourse/containers/app.yml to look like this:

# base templates used; can cut down to include less functionality per container templates:
  # - "templates/cron.template.yml" # cron is now included in base image
  - "templates/postgres.template.yml"
  - "templates/redis.template.yml"
  - "templates/sshd.template.yml"
  - "templates/web.template.yml"
  # - "templates/web.ssl.template.yml" # remove - https will be handled by outer nginx
  - "templates/web.ratelimited.template.yml"
  - "templates/web.socketed.template.yml"  # <-- Added

Be sure to remove or comment out the exposed ports by putting a # in front.

# which ports to expose?
# expose: comment out entire section by putting a # in front of each line
# - "80:80"   # http
# - "443:443" # https

If you are using some other reverse proxy that cannot use a web socket, you can instead expose a different port in the section above like - 8080:80.

Create an NGINX ‘site’ for the outer nginx

For an HTTPS site, put this in /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/discourse.conf, making sure to change the server_name:

server {
    listen 80; listen [::]:80;
    server_name forum.example.com;  # <-- change this

    return 301 https://$host$request_uri;
}

server {
    listen 443 ssl http2;  listen [::]:443 ssl http2;
    server_name forum.example.com;  # <-- change this

    ssl_certificate      /var/discourse/shared/standalone/ssl/ssl.crt;
    ssl_certificate_key  /var/discourse/shared/standalone/ssl/ssl.key;
    ssl_dhparam          /var/discourse/shared/standalone/ssl/dhparams.pem;
    ssl_session_tickets off;
    ssl_ciphers ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:DHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:DHE-DSS-AES128-GCM-SHA256:kEDH+AESGCM:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA256:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-SHA256:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-SHA:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-SHA384:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-SHA384:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-SHA:DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA:DHE-DSS-AES128-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA256:DHE-DSS-AES256-SHA:DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:ECDHE-RSA-DES-CBC3-SHA:ECDHE-ECDSA-DES-CBC3-SHA:AES128-GCM-SHA256:AES256-GCM-SHA384:AES128-SHA256:AES256-SHA256:AES128-SHA:AES256-SHA:AES:CAMELLIA:DES-CBC3-SHA:!aNULL:!eNULL:!EXPORT:!DES:!RC4:!MD5:!PSK:!aECDH:!EDH-DSS-DES-CBC3-SHA:!EDH-RSA-DES-CBC3-SHA:!KRB5-DES-CBC3-SHA;

    http2_idle_timeout 5m; # up from 3m default

    location / {
        proxy_pass http://unix:/var/discourse/shared/standalone/nginx.http.sock:;
        proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto https;
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
    }
}

For an HTTP-only site (not recommended, but left here for historical purposes):

server {
	listen 80; listen [::]:80;
	server_name forum.example.com;  # <-- change this

	location / {
		proxy_pass http://unix:/var/discourse/shared/standalone/nginx.http.sock:;
		proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
		proxy_http_version 1.1;
		proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
		proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;
		proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
	}
}

Make sure that the default site is either disabled or has the correct server_name set.

Then, in a shell:

# Make sure that Discourse isn't running
/var/discourse/launcher stop app || true

# test configuration
sudo nginx -t
# Important: If nginx -t comes back with an error, correct the config before reloading!
sudo service nginx reload

# Rebuild the container to apply changes
/var/discourse/launcher rebuild app

Create your other sites

You’re done with the Discourse section!

Make other NGINX “sites”, then link and enable them, as in the last step above.

Tips

  • sudo netstat -tulpn : This will tell you what ports are being used
  • /var/log/nginx/error.log : Is the location of the nginx log on ubuntu. This will tell you what the error is when you get a 502 Bad Gateway error.
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The guide in the first post is great and, on the whole, still works just fine :sunny:

There are three things worth noting:

  1. I initially missed some of the app.yml changes. There are 3 things you need to change in your app.yml. If you miss any of these things it won’t work:

    1. Comment out all ssl templates in the templates. If you are using letsencrypt you will have two:
      # - "templates/web.ssl.template.yml"
      # - "templates/web.letsencrypt.ssl.template.yml"
      
    2. Add a socket template:
      - "templates/web.socketed.template.yml" 
      
    3. Comment out all exposed ports:
      # - "80:80"   # http
      # - "443:443" # https
      
  2. As others mentioned, I had to change the ssl cert and key names in the discourse.conf:

    ssl_certificate      /var/discourse/shared/standalone/ssl/discourse.angusmcleod.com.au.cer;
    ssl_certificate_key  /var/discourse/shared/standalone/ssl/discourse.angusmcleod.com.au.key;
    
  3. Turns out my site didn’t have a dhparams.pem key (dh stands for Diffie Hellman, there’s some good explanations of what this is here). You can generate this yourself:

    openssl dhparam -out /var/discourse/shared/standalone/ssl/dhparams.pem 2048
    

Some other things you may find useful:

  • sudo netstat -tulpn: This will tell you what ports are being used

  • /var/log/nginx/error.log: Is the location of the nginx log on ubuntu. This will tell you what the error is when you get a 502 Bad Gateway error.

  • You may finish a ./launcher rebuild app, excitedly go to your domain to see if it worked and be greeted with a depressing 502 Bad Gateway error. Before giving up in frustration, try restarting nginx one more time:

    sudo service nginx restart

    This clinched it for me.

Now my sandbox is using nginx outside the container (although I haven’t added the extra website yet).

30 Likes

Hi,

I am just doing a fresh install of Discourse.
I am very surprised that :

  • The setup script does not simply allow to setup on a different port, disabling SSL support, and then it’s up to us to do reverse proxy as we want (Apache, Nging) : It seems such a common setup, it would save hundreds of hours of life to humanity
  • I am even more surprised that the setup redirects us to an outdated forum topic, in which we need to dig for the proper information, instead of a proper documentation page, kept up to date.

Thanks guys anyway for your work, but I think there is room for improvement here.
Cheers

5 Likes

Just wanted to share how I accomplished this, it was a little easier than I first thought.

From an already running machine, with Caddy acting as a reverse proxy for a number of existing Docker containers already.

  1. Clone discourse as per the official instructions
  2. Copy /var/discourse/samples/standalone.yml -> /var/discourse/containers/app.yml
  3. Fill in SMTP settings and website address
  4. Comment out 443:443 from the expose: section
  5. Replace 80:80 -> 3001:80, 3001 being the port I’m serving via Caddy
  6. Run ./launcher rebuild app
  7. Done

Whop!

7 Likes

@TheBestPessimist I swapped the order of the HTTP/HTTPS sections, it works better than adding a “don’t do this!” notice :slight_smile:

6 Likes

I would recommend just doing double NGINX, it is far more complex to set it up direct and has virtually no performance cost. Getting it right would be very hard cause we serve some files direct and have a layer of caching that is tricky to configure.

Note, customizing NGINX is easy with mixin templates have a look at the various example templates here: discourse_docker/templates at master · discourse/discourse_docker · GitHub

6 Likes

PSA: If you want to allow uploads larger than 1MB to your site, you’ll also have to set client_max_body_size 100M in any nginx config that sits in front of your site.

For reference, here’s the full nginx config I use:

nginx config for other sites on same host
server {
    if ($host = discourse.mysite.org) {
        return 301 https://$host$request_uri;
    } # managed by Certbot


    if ($host = backupname.mysite.org) {
        return 301 https://$host$request_uri;
    } # managed by Certbot

    listen 80; listen [::]:80;
    server_name discourse.mysite.org;
    server_name backupname.mysite.org;

    location / {
        proxy_pass http://unix:/var/discourse/shared/mysite/nginx.http.sock:;
        proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
    }
}

# nginx 1.14.1 | intermediate profile | OpenSSL 1.1.0f | link

server {
    listen 443 ssl http2;  listen [::]:443 ssl http2;
    server_name discourse.mysite.org;
    server_name backupname.mysite.org;

    # from discourse examples
    http2_idle_timeout 5m; # up from 3m default
    client_max_body_size 50M; # allow 50M uploads

    location / {
        proxy_pass http://unix:/var/discourse/shared/mysite/nginx.http.sock:;
        proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto https;
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
    }
    ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/backupname.mysite.org/fullchain.pem; # managed by Certbot
    ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/backupname.mysite.org/privkey.pem; # managed by Certbot

    ###### https://mozilla.github.io/server-side-tls/ssl-config-generator/ ####

    ssl_session_timeout 1d;
    ssl_session_cache shared:SSL:50m;
    ssl_session_tickets off;

    # modern configuration. tweak to your needs.
    ssl_protocols TLSv1.2;
    ssl_ciphers 'ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-ECDSA-CHACHA20-POLY1305:ECDHE-RSA-CHACHA20-POLY1305:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-SHA384:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-SHA384:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-SHA256:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA256';
    ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;

    # HSTS (ngx_http_headers_module is required) (15768000 seconds = 6 months)
    add_header Strict-Transport-Security max-age=15768000;

    # OCSP Stapling ---
    # fetch OCSP records from URL in ssl_certificate and cache them
    ssl_stapling on;
    ssl_stapling_verify on;

    ## verify chain of trust of OCSP response using Root CA and Intermediate certs
    ssl_trusted_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/backupname.mysite.org/chain.pem;

    resolver 1.1.1.1;

}
8 Likes