Deployment options

The default Zulip installation instructions will install a complete Zulip server, with all of the services it needs, on a single machine.

For production deployment, however, it’s common to want to do something more complicated. This page documents the options for doing so.

Installing Zulip from Git

To install a development version of Zulip from Git, just clone the Git repository from GitHub:

# First, install Git if you don't have it installed already
sudo apt install git
git clone zulip-server-git

and then continue the normal installation instructions. You can also upgrade Zulip from Git.

Zulip in Docker

Zulip has an officially supported, experimental docker image. Please note that Zulip’s normal installer has been extremely reliable for years, whereas the Docker image is new and has rough edges, so we recommend the normal installer unless you have a specific reason to prefer Docker.

Running Zulip’s service dependencies on different machines

Zulip has full support for each top-level service living on its own machine.

You can configure remote servers for Postgres, RabbitMQ, Redis, in /etc/zulip/; just search for the service name in that file and you’ll find inline documentation in comments for how to configure it.

Since some of these services require some configuration on the node itself (e.g. installing our postgres extensions), we have designed the puppet configuration that Zulip uses for installing and upgrading configuration to be completely modular.

For example, you can install a Zulip rabbitmq server on a machine, you can do the following after unpacking a Zulip production release tarball:

env PUPPET_CLASSES=zulip::redis ./scripts/setup/install

You can see most likely manifests you might want to choose in the list of includes in the main manifest for the default all-in-one Zulip server, though it’s also possible to subclass some of the lower-level manifests defined in that directory if you want to customize. A good example of doing this is in the zulip_ops puppet configuration that we use as part of managing and

Using Zulip with Amazon RDS as the database

Unfortunately, you cannot use most third-party database-as-a-service provides like Amazon RDS as the database provider with Zulip without a degraded experience. Zulip let you choose one of two full-text search postgres extensions. Neither is available in Amazon RDS. As a result, if you use one of those providers, Zulip’s full-text search will be unavailable.

Putting the Zulip application behind a reverse proxy

Zulip is designed to support being run behind a reverse proxy server. There are few things you need to be careful about when configuring a reverse proxy:

  1. Configure your reverse proxy (or proxies) to correctly maintain the X-Forwarded-For HTTP header, which is supposed to contain the series of IP addresses the request was forwarded through. This nginx code snippet will do the right thing, and you can verify your work by looking at /var/log/zulip/server.log and checking it has the actual IP addresses of clients, not the IP address of the proxy server.
  2. Ensure your proxy doesn’t interfere with Zulip’s use of long-polling for real-time push from the server to your users’ browsers. This nginx code snippet will do the right thing.

The key configuration options are, for the /json/events and /api/1/events endpoints:

  • proxy_read_timeout 1200;. It’s critical that this be significantly above 60s, but the precise value isn’t important.
  • proxy_buffering off. If you don’t do this, your nginx proxy may return occasional 502 errors to clients using Zulip’s events API.
  1. The other tricky failure mode with nginx reverse proxies is that they can load-balance between the IPv4 and IPv6 addresses for a given hostname. This can result in mysterious errors that can be quite difficult to debug. Be sure to declare your upstreams in a way that won’t do load-balancing unexpectedly (e.g. pointing to a DNS name that you haven’t configured with multiple IPs for your Zulip machine; sometimes this happens with IPv6 configuration).

You can look at our nginx reverse proxy configuration to see an example of how to do this properly (the various include files are available via the zulip::nginx puppet module).