Install a Zulip server

Before you begin

To install a Zulip server, you’ll need an Ubuntu or Debian system that satisfies the installation requirements. Alternatively, you can use a preconfigured DigitalOcean droplet, or Zulip’s experimental Docker image.

Should I follow this installation guide?

If you’d like to install a self-hosted Zulip server, this guide is for you!

Step 1: Download the latest release

Download and unpack the latest server release (Zulip Server 8.2) with the following commands:

cd $(mktemp -d)
curl -fLO
tar -xf zulip-server-latest.tar.gz

Step 2: Install Zulip

To set up Zulip with the most common configuration, you can run the installer as follows:

sudo -s  # If not already root
./zulip-server-*/scripts/setup/install --certbot \
    --email=YOUR_EMAIL --hostname=YOUR_HOSTNAME

This takes a few minutes to run, as it installs Zulip’s dependencies. For more on what the installer does, see details below.

If the script gives an error, consult Troubleshooting below.

Installer options

  • The email address for the person or team who maintains the Zulip installation. Note that this is a public-facing email address; it may appear on 404 pages, is used as the sender’s address for many automated emails, and is advertised as a support address. An email address like is totally reasonable, as is Do not put a display name; e.g. “”, not “Zulip Support”. This becomes ZULIP_ADMINISTRATOR (docs) in the Zulip settings.

  • The user-accessible domain name for this Zulip server, i.e., what users will type in their web browser. This becomes EXTERNAL_HOST (docs) in the Zulip settings.

  • --self-signed-cert: With this option, the Zulip installer generates a self-signed SSL certificate for the server. This isn’t suitable for production use, but may be convenient for testing.

  • --certbot: With this option, the Zulip installer automatically obtains an SSL certificate for the server using Certbot, and configures a cron job to renew the certificate automatically. If you’d prefer to acquire an SSL certificate yourself in any other way, it’s easy to provide it to Zulip.

You can see the more advanced installer options in our deployment options documentation.

Step 3: Create a Zulip organization, and log in

On success, the install script prints a link. If you’re restoring a backup or importing your data from Slack, or another Zulip server, you should stop here and return to the import instructions.

Otherwise, open the link in a browser. Follow the prompts to set up your organization, and your own user account as an administrator. Then, log in!

The link is a secure one-time-use link. If you need another later, you can generate a new one by running generate_realm_creation_link on the server. See also our doc on running multiple organizations on the same server if that’s what you’re planning to do.

Step 4: Configure and use

To really see Zulip in action, you’ll need to get the people you work together with using it with you.

Learning more:

Details: What the installer does

The install script does several things:

  • Creates the zulip user, which the various Zulip servers will run as.

  • Creates /home/zulip/deployments/, which the Zulip code for this deployment (and future deployments when you upgrade) goes into. At the very end of the install process, the script moves the Zulip code tree it’s running from (which you unpacked from a tarball above) to a directory there, and makes /home/zulip/deployments/current as a symbolic link to it.

  • Installs Zulip’s various dependencies.

  • Configures the various third-party services Zulip uses, including PostgreSQL, RabbitMQ, Memcached and Redis.

  • Initializes Zulip’s database.

If you’d like to deploy Zulip with these services on different machines, check out our deployment options documentation.


Install script. The Zulip install script is designed to be idempotent. This means that if it fails, then once you’ve corrected the cause of the failure, you can just rerun the script.

The install script automatically logs a transcript to /var/log/zulip/install.log. In case of failure, you might find the log handy for resolving the issue. Please include a copy of this log file in any bug reports.

The zulip user’s password. By default, the zulip user doesn’t have a password, and is intended to be accessed by su zulip from the root user (or via SSH keys or a password, if you want to set those up, but that’s up to you as the system administrator). Most people who are prompted for a password when running su zulip turn out to already have switched to the zulip user earlier in their session, and can just skip that step.

After the install script. If you get an error after scripts/setup/install completes, check the bottom of /var/log/zulip/errors.log for a traceback, and consult the troubleshooting section for advice on how to debug.

Still having trouble? Please see the troubleshooting and monitoring guide for additional advice and ways to get help.