Production installation on an existing server

Here are some tips for installing the latest release of Zulip on a production server running Debian or Ubuntu. The Zulip installation scripts assume that it has carte blanche to overwrite your configuration files in /etc, so we recommend against installing it on a server running other nginx or django apps.

But if you do, here are some things you can do that may make it possible to retain your existing site. However, this is NOT recommended, and you may break your server. Make sure you have backups and a provisioning script ready to go to wipe and restore your existing services if (when) your server goes down.

These instructions are only for experts. If you’re not an experienced Linux sysadmin, you will have a much better experience if you get a dedicated VM to install Zulip on instead (or use


Copy your existing nginx configuration to a backup and then merge the one created by Zulip into it:

sudo cp /etc/nginx/nginx.conf /etc/nginx.conf.before-zulip-install
sudo curl -fL -o /etc/nginx/nginx.conf.zulip \
sudo meld /etc/nginx/nginx.conf /etc/nginx/nginx.conf.zulip  # be sure to merge to the right

Since the file in Zulip is an ERB Puppet template, you will also need to replace any <%= ... %> sections with appropriate content. For instance <%= @ca_crt %> should be replaced with /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt on Debian and Ubuntu installs.

After the Zulip installation completes, then you can overwrite (or merge) your new nginx.conf with the installed one:

$ sudo meld /etc/nginx/nginx.conf.zulip /etc/nginx/nginx.conf  # be sure to merge to the right
$ sudo service nginx restart

Zulip’s Puppet configuration will change the ownership of /var/log/nginx so that the zulip user can access it. Depending on your configuration, this may or may not cause problems.

Depending on how you have configured nginx for your other services, you may need to add a server_name for the Zulip server block in the nginx configuration.


If you have a Puppet server running on your server, you will get an error message about not being able to connect to the client during the install process:

puppet-agent[29873]: Could not request certificate: Failed to open TCP connection to puppet:8140

So you’ll need to shut down any Puppet servers.

$ sudo service puppet-agent stop
$ sudo service puppet stop


Zulip expects to install PostgreSQL 12, and find that listening on port 5432; any other version of PostgreSQL that is detected at install time will cause the install to abort. If you already have PostgreSQL installed, you can pass --postgresql-version= to the installer to have it use that version. It will replace the package with the latest from the PostgreSQL apt repository, but existing data will be retained.

If you have an existing PostgreSQL database, note that Zulip will use the default main as its database name; make sure you’re not using that.

Memcached, Redis, and RabbitMQ

Zulip will, by default, configure these services for its use. The configuration we use is pretty basic, but if you’re using them for something else, you’ll want to make sure the configurations are compatible.

No uninstall process

We don’t provide a convenient way to uninstall a Zulip server.

No support, but contributions welcome!

Most of the limitations are things we’d accept a pull request to fix; we welcome contributions to shrink this list of gotchas. Chat with us in the community if you’re interested in helping!