Without any coding knowledge, is it possible to install and maintain Discourse?

At the moment, I cannot afford Discourse’s hosting fees, so initially, I’d like to do an installation elsewhere. I have no real coding skills; however, I can follow instructions. Does this sound like a possibility or am I being unrealistic?

Bonus question: Which hosting site is an affordable/wise alternative to Discourse?

I’m starting at the bottom rung in terms of understanding cloud servers, shared servers, etc.

BTW, this is my first post and I’m overwhelmed by all the information. Thank you for your kind responses.


Yes, do it.
I don’t know much about coding either and I have no real clue what docker is and how this whole thing works, but I was able to install Discourse without struggling too much. That said, I have installed other software before, like Wordpress, and I have some experience with configuring domain names, have some understanding of how emails find their destination etc. But it’s all learning by doing - and in that sense, doing comes first. As for the learning part: this forum and the rest of the internet are a great resource and you can find answers to any question that might come up during the process.

If you’re just playing around, you can hardly break anything. If something goes irreversibly wrong, worst case is you have to delete everything and start over. When you start making things accessible to others though, it’s time to make sure that you have security measures in place and know a little bit more about what you’re doing. But you’ll get there.


I suggest the first thing to do is change your username.

Which would be more useful to get your mind in a state ready to learn? A mindset of ‘no skills’ or ‘avid learner’ ?

One of the best lessons I was ever taught was.

“Anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly, until you learn to do it well” ~ Zig Ziglar

If you desire to be skilled in coding, you will become skilled in coding.

Here is where I started when I was asked to help with discourse.

and here is a guide to run it up on your own device


Thank you, Thomas. That’s about the extent of my skill set, too. I’m encouraged by your post.

Thank you, Keith! Great quote from Zig. I like it!

Took your advice and changed my name. Thanks for the advice and documentation. I’m looking forward to understanding on how to install and manage this software!

My big hurdle is that I still have no idea which service to signup with to do an installation, tho.


We’ve had good experiences with Digital Ocean.


DigitalOcean is a good place to start. I like their droplet system, it’s easy to destroy and recreate if you messed things up.

A droplet at 10$/month will be enough. I use OVH SSD but I’m french, I don’t know the value of their services somewhere else. You have some options here :

I never used a terminal before Discourse, it’s challenging at first but if you follow the install guide seriously, everything will be alright. I run a dozen of Discourse forum, it takes me 30 minutes per week to manage, so it’s pretty easy


Yep definitely recommend Digital Ocean, and FYI even the $5 / month droplet is definitely adequate to start with! For email provider, Mailgun is used by many people here, solid service, and has a generous free tier.

Something like this a great place to start to get familiar with the command line, not strictly necessary as you can probably figure things out as you go, but I think worth an hour or so upfront: Learn Enough Command Line to Be Dangerous | Learn Enough to Be Dangerous


If anything this is probably the ideal place to start out from. Discourse touches on a number of technologies lightly enough that you familiarise yourself with the basics quite quickly.

I would second the other recommendations of DigitalOcean, but contrary to @Steven’s suggestion the $5 install will be fine. Just make sure that when you run ./discourse-setup you allow it to create swap.

Start with the standard install guide, ask here if you hit any problems, we can hand-hold the process providing you stay within the scope of support.

Don’t be tempted by one-click installs and third party packages, they’re only going to lead to more cost, pain or complexity.


Yes try following the official install guide



Have you looked into Google or AVS? They provide free tiers where you pay little to nothing for a server.
The down-fall, you can only use it for so many hours per month (I think it’s like 750?).
Also, you need to be able to have some memory to be able to run the container/installers, so you would also need to learn about swap memory.

Google offers first-timers a $300 credit in their servers. Which is a crazy good deal. They want your payment info for obvious reasons, but will not (I repeat, will not) charge you until you set up particular billing. They give you 12 months of play-time and guarantee you will be charged. If you run out of your credit, the service stops until your tell them they can start charging you.

Googles Console UI can be a it intimidating at first, but once you figure out how to use it, you will realize the power that it has.

That’s for your servers.

As for installing Discource without any coding knowledge, take me for an example.
I have very small knowledge in CSS, and HTML, and I am still figuring it out over time.

Tutorials, and focus. If you want it, you can get it.

So far, I’ve been asking the community for help and troubleshooting my issues, and they have been extremely helpful in every aspect. It’s what’s keeping me from churning towards any other type of “forum”. Not to mention, this is the most simple, yet complex forum I’ve ever used. It’s great. You can customize just about anything (given that you have the knowledge to do so).

Those are just my personal opinions!

EDIT also, if you need any help setting up, customizing, or just general questions, feel free to pm me.


Thank you so much, everyone, for your very helpful suggestions! I’ll do my homework and post my progress here. I suspect there are other lurkers like me who can benefit from the knowledge in this thread.

c0ry, I’ll absolutely PM you if I have any general questions! Thank you!


I have computer background, but I did new Discourse install recently and can confirm that install instructions for their standard Docker install are really good and to the point.
Also, meta is great for searching issues and finding solutions.

I use Hetzner.de CX11 (2.5€), MailGun (free) and domain setup at PorkBun.


Thanks, Luka! Hadn’t heard of porkbun before. I’m gonna check them out. I’d be happy to leave GoDaddy, which has gotten more and more expensive over the years.

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