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Deployment considerations

Before deploying GoToSocial, it's important to think through a few things as some choices will have long-term consequences for how you run and manage GoToSocial.

Danger

It's not supported across the Fediverse to switch between implementations on the same domain. This means that if you run GoToSocial on example.org, you'll run into federation issues if you try to switch to a different implementation like Pleroma/Akkoma, Misskey/Calckey etc.

In that same vein, if you already have another ActivityPub implementation running on example.org you should not attempt to switch to GoToSocial on that domain.

Database

GoToSocial supports both SQLite and Postgres and you can start using either. We do not currently have tooling to support migrating from SQLite to Postgres or vice-versa, but it is possible in theory.

For databases to perform properly, they should be run on fast storage that operates with low and stable latency. It is possible to run databases on network attached storage, but this adds variable latency and network congestion to the mix, as well as potential I/O contention on the origin storage.

Danger

The performance of Hetzner Cloud Volumes is not guaranteed and seems to have very volatile latency. You're going to have a bad time running your database on those with extremely poor query performance for even the most basic operations. Before filing performance issues against GoToSocial, make sure the problems reproduce with local storage.

SQLite is great for a single-user instance. If you're planning on hosting multiple people it's advisable to use Postgres instead. You can always use Postgres regardless of the instance size.

Tip

Please backup your database. The database contains encryption keys for the instance and any user accounts. You won't be able to federate again from the same domain if you lose these keys.

Domain name

In order to federate with others, you'll need a domain like example.org. You can register your domain name through any domain registrar, like Namecheap. Make sure you pick a registrar that also lets you manage DNS entries, so you can point your domain to the IP of the server that's running your GoToSocial instance.

You'll commonly see usernames existing at the apex of the domain, for example @me@example.org but this is not required. It's perfectly fine to have users exist on @me@social.example.org instead. Many people prefer to have usernames on the apex as its shorter to type, but you can use any (subdomain) you control.

It is possible to have usernames like @me@example.org but have GoToSocial running on social.example.org instead. This is done by distinguishing between the API domain, called the "host", and the domain used for usernames, called the "account domain".

Danger

It's not possible to safely change whether the host and account domain are different after the fact. It requires regenerating the database and will cause confusion for any server you have already federated with.

When using a single domain, you only need to configure the "host" in the GoToSocial configuration:

host: "example.org"

When using a split domain approach, you need to configure both the "host" and the "account-domain":

host: "social.example.org"
account-domain: "example.org"

TLS

For federation to work, you have to use TLS. Most implementations, including GoToSocial, will generally refuse to federate over unencrypted transports.

GoToSocial comes with built-in support for provisioning certificates through Lets Encrypt. It can also load certificates from disk. If you have a reverse-proxy in front of GoToSocial you can handle TLS at that level instead.

Tip

Make sure you configure the use of modern versions of TLS, TLSv1.2 and higher, in order to keep communications between servers and clients safe. When GoToSocial handles TLS termination this is done automatically for you. If you have a reverse-proxy in use, use the Mozilla SSL Configuration Generator.

Server / VPS

Clustering / multi-node deployments

GoToSocial does not support clustering or any form of multi-node deployment. Though multiple GtS instances can use the same Postgres database and either shared local storage or the same object bucket, GtS relies on a lot of internal caching to keep things fast. There is no mechanism for synchronising these caches between instances. Without it, you'll get all kinds of odd and inconsistent behaviour.

GoToSocial aims to fit in small spaces so we try and ensure that the system requirements are fairly minimal: for a single-user instance with about 100 followers/followees, it uses somewhere between 50 to 100MB of RAM. CPU usage is only intensive when handling media (encoding blurhashes, mostly) and/or doing a lot of federation requests at the same time.

These light requirements mean GtS runs pretty well on something like a Raspberry Pi (a €40 single-board computer). It's been tested on a Raspberry Pi Zero W as well (a €9 computer smaller than a credit card), but it's not quite able to run on that. It should run on a Raspberry Pi Zero W 2 (which costs €14!), but we haven't tested that yet. You can also repurpose an old laptop or desktop to run GoToSocial for you.

If you decide to use a VPS instead, you can spin yourself up something cheap with Linux running on it. Most of the VPS offerings in the €2-€5 range will perform admirably for a personal GoToSocial instance.

Hostwinds is a good option here: it's cheap and they throw in a static IP address for free.

Greenhost is also great: it has zero CO2 emissions, but is a bit more costly.

Distribution system requirements

Please make sure to check on your distribution system requirments, especially memory. Many distributions have baseline requirements and running them on a system that doesn't meet them will cause problems without further tuning and tweaking on your part.

Linux:

The BSD family of distributions don't document memory requirements as much, but anywhere up from 128MB is expected to be sufficient.

Swap

It is possible to run a system without swap. In order to safely do so and ensure consistent performance and service availability, you need to tune the kernel, system and your workloads accordingly. This requires a good understanding of your kernel's memory management system as well as the memory usage patterns of the workloads you're running.

Note

Swap is used to ensure the kernel can efficiently reclaim memory. This is useful even when a system is not experiencing memory contention, like freeing up memory that was only used during process startup. This allows more things that are actively used to be cached in memory. Swap is not what makes your application slow. Experiencing memory contention is what makes things slow.

Unless you're experienced in doing this kind of tuning and troubleshooting the issues that may arise from not having swap, you should follow your distribution or hosting provider's recommendations and configure an appropriate amount of swap. If your distribution or hosting provider doesn't provide guidance, you can use the following rule of thumb for a server:

  • less than 2GB of RAM: swap = RAM × 2
  • more than 2GB of RAM: swap = RAM, up to 8G

Linux swaps pretty early. This tends to not be necessary on servers and in the case of databases can cause unnecessary latency. Though it's good to let your system swap if it needs to, it can help to tell it to be a little more conservative about how early it swaps. Configuring this on Linux is done by changing the vm.swappiness sysctl value.

By default it's 60. You can lower that to 10 for starters and keep an eye out. It's possible to run with even lower values, but it's likely unnecessary. To make the value persistent, you'll need to drop a configuration file in /etc/sysctl.d/.

Memory and CPU limits

It is possible to limit the amount of memory or CPU your GoToSocial instance can consume. Doing so can be done on Linux using CGroups v2 resource controllers.

You can configure limits for a process using systemd resource control settings, OpenRC cgroup support or the libcgroup CLI. If you want to protect GoToSocial in cases where your system is experiencing memory pressure, look at memory.low.

Ports

GoToSocial needs ports 80 and 443 open.

  • 80 is used for Lets Encrypt. As such, you don't need it if you don't use the built-in Lets Encrypt provisioning.
  • 443 is used to serve the API on with TLS and is what any instance you're federating with will try to connect to.

If you can't leave 443 and 80 open on the machine, don't worry! You can configure these ports in GoToSocial, but you'll have to also configure port forwarding to properly forward traffic on 443 and 80 to whatever ports you choose.

Tip

You should configure a firewall on your machine, as well as some protection against brute-force SSH login attempts and the like. Take a look at our firewall documentation for pointers on what to configure and tools that can help you out.