Realms in Zulip
Zulip allows multiple realms to be hosted on a single instance. Realms are the Zulip codebase’s internal name for what we refer to in user-facing documentation as an organization (the name “realm” comes from Kerberos).
Wherever possible, we avoid using the term
realm in any user-facing
string or documentation; “Organization” is the equivalent term used in
those contexts (and we have linters that attempt to enforce this rule
in translatable strings). We may in the future modify Zulip’s
internals to use
The production docs on multiple realms are also relevant reading.
There are two main methods for creating realms.
Using unique link generator
Enabling open realm creation
Enabling open realm creation
If you want anyone to be able to create new realms on your server, you
can enable open realm creation. This will add a Create new
organization link to your Zulip homepage footer, and anyone can
create a new realm by visiting this link (/new). This
feature is disabled by default in production instances, and can be
enabled by setting
OPEN_REALM_CREATION = True in settings.py.
One can host multiple realms in a Zulip server by giving each realm a unique subdomain of the main Zulip server’s domain. For example, if the Zulip instance is hosted at zulip.example.com, and the subdomain of your organization is acme you can would acme.zulip.example.com for accessing the organization.
For subdomains to work properly, you also have to change your DNS
records so that the subdomains point to your Zulip installation IP. An
A record with host name value
* pointing to your IP should do the
We also recommend upgrading to at least Zulip 1.7, since older Zulip releases had much less nice handling for subdomains. See our docs on using subdomains for user-facing documentation on this.
Working with subdomains in development environment
Zulip’s development environment is designed to make it convenient to test the various Zulip configurations for different subdomains:
Realms are subdomains on
*.zulipdev.com, just like
The root domain (like
The default realm is hosted on
zulip.zulipdev.com, using the
Details are below.
By default, Linux does not provide a convenient way to use subdomains
in your local development environment. To solve this problem, we use
the zulipdev.com domain, which has a wildcard A record pointing to
127.0.0.1. You can use zulipdev.com to connect to your Zulip
development server instead of localhost. The default realm with the
Shakespeare users has the subdomain
zulip and can be accessed by
If you are behind a proxy server, this method won’t work. When you
make a request to load zulipdev.com in your browser, the proxy server
will try to get the page on your behalf. Since zulipdev.com points
to 127.0.0.1 the proxy server is likely to give you a 503 error. The
workaround is to disable your proxy for
*.zulipdev.com. The DNS
lookup should still work even if you disable proxy for
*.zulipdev.com. If it doesn’t you can add zulipdev.com records in
/etc/hosts file. The file should look something like this.
127.0.0.1 localhost 127.0.0.1 zulipdev.com 127.0.0.1 zulip.zulipdev.com 127.0.0.1 testsubdomain.zulipdev.com
These records are also useful if you want to e.g. run the Puppeteer tests when you are not connected to the Internet.