Hopefully by now you won't have to be sold on the invasive practices that social media companies conduct. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter aquire so much data on users that they often know more about you than you know about yourself. The simple solution to this is to not use social media. However, that just isn't an option for most people. So the next best thing is to setup a self-hosted and federalised social media site so that you have full control over your data. I've previously made a video showing all the steps in depth if you want to check it out. If you run into any issues I suggest you look at the video.

You'll need a server or VPS. Nearly any Operating system is supported but for this tutorial I'm gonna presume you're using a Debian-based OS. You'll also need a domain name pointing to your server's IP address which is explained in this tutorial.


Setting Up and Configuring

First things first you'll need to make sure that you've hardened you SSH so that password authentication is disabled and you'll also want to setup Fail2Ban. There's a great tutorial on how to do this which can be read here.

Next we'll install the required packages:

apt install -y curl unzip libncurses5 postgresql postgresql-contrib nginx certbot libmagic-dev

You can manually configure postgreSQL to suit your system better. Check out the documentation here and then run the below command:

systemctl restart postgresql

Installing the Pleroma App

First as the root user

Pleroma is not in the Debian app repositories, so we will install it manually. First create the Pleroma user by running the below command:

useradd -m -s /bin/bash -d /opt/pleroma pleroma

Then, still as root, we will create the required directories and give the Pleroma user ownership of them.

mkdir -p /var/lib/pleroma/uploads
chown -R pleroma /var/lib/pleroma
mkdir -p /var/lib/pleroma/static
chown -R pleroma /var/lib/pleroma
mkdir -p /etc/pleroma
chown -R pleroma /etc/pleroma

Now, as the new Pleroma user

Now run su -l pleroma to login as the Pleroma user. Now use the curl command below to download the Pleroma software and unzip it.

curl '' -o /tmp/
unzip /tmp/ -d /tmp/

Note that we are downloading the amd64 version here. If you know you have a different CPU architecture, replace that with whatever your architecture is.

mv /tmp/release/* /opt/pleroma
rmdir /tmp/release
rm /tmp/
./bin/pleroma_ctl instance gen --output /etc/pleroma/config.exs --output-psql /tmp/setup_db.psql

We need to briefly return to the root user so we can run the following command (via the postgres user) to set up the database. Type ctrl-d or run exit to return to the root user, then run:

su postgres -s $SHELL -lc "psql -f /tmp/setup_db.psql"

Then return to the pleroma user with su -l pleroma and we will test to see that Pleroma can run:

./bin/pleroma_ctl migrate
./bin/pleroma daemon

That will initialize Pleroma. It might take as long as a minute to get started, so wait a bit, then run the following:

curl http://localhost:4000/api/v1/instance

If everything is working, this command will give you a long line of messy output. If it is not, you will get a connection error message. Once it is working successfully, stop the Pleroma daemon and we will interface Pleroma with the web server.

./bin/pleroma stop

Setup and Configure Nginx

Return again to the root user. Let's copy Pleroma's Nginx configuration file from the template given in the installation and enable it:

cp /opt/pleroma/installation/pleroma.nginx /etc/nginx/sites-available/pleroma.conf
ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/pleroma.conf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/pleroma.conf

Edit the etc/nginx/sites-available/pleroma.conf file and replace example.tld with your domain name.

We now have to get a SSL certificate to enable encryption, since we have a model configuration that already includes SSL information, just check the brief the standalone certificate page to get the needed certificate. Once you've got your cert setup, copy over the Nginx configuration with the below command:

Once everything, including your Cerbot certificate is ready, simply reload Nginx with this command:

systemctl reload nginx

Setting up the service

Pleroma itself runs on a SystemD service similar to other things running on your server like Nginx. To start the service up run the below commands:

cp /opt/pleroma/installation/pleroma.service /etc/systemd/system/pleroma.service
systemctl start pleroma
systemctl enable pleroma

If everything worked then when you go to your domain in the web browser you should see a bare-bones Pleroma instance.

Creating an Admin User

You'll be able to create new accounts on the Pleroma instance in the login section on the website but the easiest way to setup an admin account is with the CLI. Simply run the below command replaced with your username:

su -l pleroma
./bin/pleroma_ctl user new username --admin

If you run into any issues then feel free to checkout the documentation or send me an email or message. My details are below.