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Done For You Discourse Installation Options

Discourse is an amazing discussion platform. It solves the issues of forums and groups in an elegant way. At Literate Computing, we help you get started using Discourse quickly and easily by offering straight forward installation options that fill the gap from what is offered by Below, are options for installing Discourse on your Digital Ocean account.

If you are interested in using Literate Computing to manage and maintain your Discourse installation, please check out our Enterprise Options.

All installs include up to three rebuilds from the command line in the first six months. If your site needs an upgrade of Docker, the Discourse image or for some other reason cannot be upgraded from the web interface, I will solve the problem free of charge.

Let's Encrypt HTTPS encryption

Discourse will be encrypted with a free certificate from with Let's Encrypt. Certificates are automatically renewed.

Incoming Mail

Enable reply-by-mail and post-by-mail features on your forum. I will install and configure an incoming mail on your server as described here and enable reply-by-email. You can then enable automatic posting to groups and categories using addresses like

Basic Plugins

Basic plugins includes all of these:

  • Akismet anti-spam
  • Solved — mark a reply as the solution
  • Slack — real time chat notifications
  • Cakeday — celebrate join date or birthday
  • Google AdSense/DFP
  • Patreon integration

Advanced Plugins

Advanced plugins includes all of the following. At least 2GB of RAM is recommended.

  • Data Explorer — run live SQL queries and ad-hoc reports
  • Assignment — assign a topic to staff for handling
  • Topic Voting — vote up favorite topics
  • Staff Notes — annotate user accounts
  • Canned Replies — automate common staff replies
  • MathJax — detailed math annotations
  • General oAuth 2.0 and LinkedIn login support

Custom Plugins

Installing custom plugins involves removing any plugins installed with the Standard or Advanced Packages and/or install any other plugin you wish. Non-official plugins can break your server if the plugin maintainer does not update the plugin to keep pace with Discourse's fast-moving development cycle.

Mailgun Mail Delivery

Discourse requires mail delivery to work. Mailgun is my recommended provider with free delivery of the first 10,000 messages/month. You must create your own Mailgun account, verify your email address, and provide credit card information. When you place the order you will provide an API key that will enable me to configure Mailgun to deliver mail for your Discourse server host name. I will provide you instructions for configuring DNS to activate Mailgun delivery for your domain.

Custom Mail Server

Use another mail delivery service that you configure. You must provide me with the SMTP server address, username, password, and port. It is your responsibility to configure the server to deliver mail from

Custom Ubuntu Server

Use any Ubuntu LTS server that you set up (e.g., AWS, Lightsail, or in your own data center). Unless special arrangements are made, this must be a new and clean installation without any web or mail servers installed. I will install Docker and Discourse as well as my standard configuration tweaks.

Standard Server Maintenance

Pro installs and above include one month of monitoring, upgrades, and plugin changes.

Two Container Configuration

The standard cloud install uses a single Docker container. This is the recommended configuration for most users because it is simple and the one that is officially supported at The biggest disadvantage of this configuration is that if a rebuild from the command line is required (typically several times a year when a required component is upgraded) your server will be inaccessible during the rebuild (typically 5-10 minutes).

This two-container configuration using one container for the database and a second for the web server. This makes it possible to rebuild and reconfigure the web server (e.g., to change plugins or do an update) while the old container continues to run. You can then switch to the new server with a down-time of one minute or less.

Sub-folder install

If you would like for your forum to reside at rather than, a complicated setup that involves having one webserver to serve that does a reverse-proxy to the Discourse web server. Included in the custom install is a single web application (e.g., WordPress) plus Discourse. Though sub-folder installs are officially supported by Discourse, those who develop the software do not themselves use that configuration, so it can require extra care and maintenance.

Some people believe that a sub-folder install has SEO advantages. Others believe differently. I have no opinion but will configure such an installation if it is important to you.

This configuration requires that the main site and Discourse both be on the same server. At least 2GB of RAM is required.

Training and Support

Full and Custom installs include one hour of my time to assist with the configuration of plugins, creating groups to protect categories and whatever other questions you have getting your community started.

Training and support are available for all installs at my standard rate of $150/hour, invoiced at the end of the month.