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Setting up a Pleroma development environment

Pleroma requires some adjustments from the defaults for running the instance locally. The following should help you to get started.


  1. Install Pleroma as explained in the docs, with some exceptions:
    • You can use your own fork of the repository and add pleroma as a remote git remote add pleroma ''
    • You can skip systemd and nginx and all that stuff
    • No need to create a dedicated pleroma user, it's easier to just use your own user
    • For the DB you can still choose a dedicated user, the mix tasks set it up for you so it's no extra work for you
    • For domain you can use localhost
    • instead of creating a prod.secret.exs, create dev.secret.exs
    • No need to prefix with MIX_ENV=prod. We're using dev and that's the default MIX_ENV
  2. Change the dev.secret.exs
    • Change the scheme in config :pleroma, Pleroma.Web.Endpoint to http (see examples below)
    • If you want to change other settings, you can do that too
  3. You can now start the server mix phx.server. Once it's build and started, you can access the instance on http://<host>:<port> (e.g.http://localhost:4000 ) and should be able to do everything locally you normaly can.

Example config to change the scheme to http. Change the port if you want to run on another port.

  config :pleroma, Pleroma.Web.Endpoint,
   url: [host: "localhost", scheme: "http", port: 4000],

Example config to disable captcha. This makes it a bit easier to create test-users.

config :pleroma, Pleroma.Captcha,
  enabled: false

Example config to change the log level to info

config :logger, :console,
  # :debug :info :warning :error
  level: :info


  1. Create a test.secret.exs file with the content as shown below
  2. Create the database user and test database.
    1. You can use the config/setup_db.psql as a template. Copy the file if you want and change the database name, user and password to the values for the test-database (e.g. 'pleroma_local_test' for database and user). Then run this file like you did during installation.
    2. The tests will try to create the Database, so we'll have to allow our test-database user to create databases, sudo -Hu postgres psql -c "ALTER USER pleroma_local_test WITH CREATEDB;"
  3. Run the tests with mix test. The tests should succeed.

Example content for the test.secret.exs file. Feel free to use another user, database name or password, just make sure the database is dedicated for the testing environment.

# Pleroma test configuration

# NOTE: This file should not be committed to a repo or otherwise made public
# without removing sensitive information.

import Config

config :pleroma, Pleroma.Repo,
  username: "pleroma_local_test",
  password: "mysuperduperpassword",
  database: "pleroma_local_test",
  hostname: "localhost"


Update Pleroma as explained in the docs. Just make sure you pull from upstream and not from your own fork.

Working on multiple branches

If you develop on a separate branch, it's possible you did migrations that aren't merged into another branch you're working on. If you have multiple things you're working on, it's probably best to set up multiple pleroma's each with their own database. If you finished with a branch and want to switch back to develop to start a new branch from there, you can drop the database and recreate the database (e.g. by using config/setup_db.psql). The commands to drop and recreate the database can be found in the docs.