Skip to content

Installing on FreeBSD

This document was written for FreeBSD 12.1, but should be work on future releases.

Required dependencies

  • PostgreSQL >=9.6
  • Elixir >=1.11.0 <1.15
  • Erlang OTP >=22.2.0 <26
  • git
  • file / libmagic
  • gcc or clang
  • GNU make
  • CMake

Optional dependencies

  • ImageMagick
  • FFmpeg
  • exiftool

Installing software used in this guide

This assumes the target system has pkg(8).

# pkg install elixir postgresql12-server postgresql12-client postgresql12-contrib git-lite sudo nginx gmake cmake

Copy the rc.d scripts to the right directory:

Setup the required services to automatically start at boot, using sysrc(8).

# sysrc nginx_enable=YES
# sysrc postgresql_enable=YES

Initialize postgres

# service postgresql initdb
# service postgresql start

Install media / graphics packages (optional, see docs/installation/optional/

# pkg install imagemagick ffmpeg p5-Image-ExifTool

Configuring Pleroma

Create a user for Pleroma:

# pw add user pleroma -m
# echo 'export LC_ALL="en_US.UTF-8"' >> /home/pleroma/.profile
# su -l pleroma

Clone the repository:

$ cd $HOME # Should be the same as /home/pleroma
$ git clone -b stable

Configure Pleroma. Note that you need a domain name at this point:

$ cd /home/pleroma/pleroma
$ mix deps.get # Enter "y" when asked to install Hex
$ MIX_ENV=prod mix pleroma.instance gen # You will be asked a few questions here.
$ cp config/generated_config.exs config/prod.secret.exs

Since Postgres is configured, we can now initialize the database. There should now be a file in config/setup_db.psql that makes this easier. Edit it, and change the password to a password of your choice. Make sure it is secure, since it'll be protecting your database. As root, you can now initialize the database:

# cd /home/pleroma/pleroma
# sudo -Hu postgres -g postgres psql -f config/setup_db.psql

Postgres allows connections from all users without a password by default. To fix this, edit /var/db/postgres/data12/pg_hba.conf. Change every trust to password.

Once this is done, restart Postgres with:

# service postgresql restart

Run the database migrations.

Back as the pleroma user, run the following to implement any database migrations.

# su -l pleroma
$ cd /home/pleroma/pleroma
$ MIX_ENV=prod mix ecto.migrate

You will need to do this whenever you update with git pull:


We'll be using in Stateless Mode for TLS certificate renewal.

First, as root, allow the user acme to have access to the acme log file, as follows:

# touch /var/log/
# chown acme:acme /var/log/
# chmod 600 /var/log/

Next, obtain your account fingerprint:

# sudo -Hu acme -g acme --register-account

You need to add the following to your nginx configuration for the server running on port 80:

  location ~ ^/\.well-known/acme-challenge/([-_a-zA-Z0-9]+)$ {
    default_type text/plain;
    return 200 "$1.6fXAG9VyG0IahirPEU2ZerUtItW2DHzDzD9wZaEKpqd";

Replace the string after after $1. with your fingerprint.

Start nginx:

# service nginx start

It should now be possible to issue a cert (replace with your domain name):

# sudo -Hu acme -g acme --issue -d --stateless

Let's add auto-renewal to /etc/crontab (replace with your domain):

/usr/local/bin/sudo -Hu acme -g acme /usr/local/sbin/ -r -d --stateless

Configuring nginx

FreeBSD's default nginx configuration does not contain an include directive, which is typically used for multiple sites. Therefore, you will need to first create the required directory as follows:

# mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-available

Next, add an include directive to /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf, within the http {} block, as follows:

http {
    include /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-available/*;

As root, copy /home/pleroma/pleroma/installation/pleroma.nginx to /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-available/pleroma.nginx.

Edit the defaults of /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-available/pleroma.nginx:

  • Change ssl_trusted_certificate to /var/db/acme/certs/example.tld/example.tld.cer.
  • Change ssl_certificate to /var/db/acme/certs/example.tld/fullchain.cer.
  • Change ssl_certificate_key to /var/db/acme/certs/example.tld/example.tld.key.
  • Change all references of example.tld to your instance's domain name.

Refer to the Hardening your instance document on how to serve media on another domain. We STRONGLY RECOMMEND you to do this to minimize attack vectors.

Creating a startup script for Pleroma

Pleroma will need to compile when it initially starts, which typically takes a longer period of time. Therefore, it is good practice to initially run pleroma from the command-line before utilizing the rc.d script. That is done as follows:

# su -l pleroma
$ cd $HOME/pleroma
$ MIX_ENV=prod mix phx.server

Copy the startup script to the correct location and make sure it's executable:

# cp /home/pleroma/pleroma/installation/freebsd/rc.d/pleroma /usr/local/etc/rc.d/pleroma
# chmod +x /usr/local/etc/rc.d/pleroma

Update the /etc/rc.conf and start pleroma with the following commands:

# sysrc pleroma_enable=YES
# service pleroma start

Create your first user

If your instance is up and running, you can create your first user with administrative rights with the following task:

sudo -Hu pleroma MIX_ENV=prod mix pleroma.user new <username> <your@emailaddress> --admin


Restart nginx with # service nginx restart and you should be up and running.

Make sure your time is in sync, or other instances will receive your posts with incorrect timestamps. You should have ntpd running.


Questions about the installation or didn’t it work as it should be, ask in via Matrix or #pleroma on via IRC.