FAQ for pod maintainers

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Revision as of 07:43, 6 April 2014 by Jaywink (talk | contribs) (Try to add some system requirements - ideas for improvement? User asking about these on twitter, wondering why we have nothing)
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Template:Languages We've started adding questions that we're frequently asked to this page, but it doesn't cover everything. If you have other questions, the best way to get an answer quickly is to visit us in our IRC channel.



What are the general system requirements?

Running diaspora* requires resources depending on how many users use the installation and how much traffic the installation receives from other pods. Generally it is recommended that at least 1 Gig of memory should be available for even small instances.

For pods with more users the amount of memory available to diaspora* and the background jobs it needs is higher depending on the amount of users actively using the instance. As the database grows, more memory will be needed to compensate.

Since diaspora* requires quite a lot of different components to be installed, generally shared hosting servers are not sufficient. Any VPS or dedicated server with a suitable amount of memory will suffice.

Do you have a detailed installation guide?

Yes. Check it out! It will probably be more up-to-date than this page, in general.

What ports does diaspora* need open for communication?

Since we recommend running on HTTPS you should only need to open the standard port for it: 443. You should have a reverse proxy listening there that forwards the requests to the application server that diaspora* starts, on port 3000 by default. You can use your existing Nginx or Apache to do that. While we don't recommend it, you can run on plain HTTP with its standard port 80 too. Just never let diaspora* listen on these ports directly. You don't need to open the application server port, 3000, it's for internal communication only.

Can I use Apache to run diaspora*?

Yes: diaspora* is a standard Rails application, so you can run it with Passenger, though the common setup is to use a reverse proxy configuration. You should definitely read this brief explanation of diaspora*s components before attempting such a setup.

I installed diaspora* on my machine, went to http://localhost:3000 and signed up. But my friends can't add me!

You set "localhost" as your address, but this is not a valid external address. You first need an externally accessible address - either a domain name or an IP address. Once you have that working, you need to clear your database (`$ bundle exec rake db:drop db:create db:schema:load`) and re-register, coming in via the external URL. Note that if your externally accessible address changes, you need to start over. diaspora* is designed as a server application to run all day and night.

I get 'command not found' if I run bundle install

Make sure RVM is loaded and the correct Ruby version and gemset are activated. The output of the rvm info and gem env commands can be helpful in that. Run gem install bundler to reassure bundler is actually installed.

If you don't use RVM, a common issue is that Debian-based distributions, including Ubuntu, don't add gem executables to the search path. Read up on the PATH environment variable on how to solve that.

How do I get past the sign-in page to create a new account?

To create a new account, go to http://yourdiasporainstance.tld/users/sign_up (replacing yourdiasporainstance.tld with the the host name of your pod).

I installed diaspora* on my machine, but when I load the site there are no images and the layout looks horrible!

You most likely started diaspora* in production mode and accessed the application server directly and not through your reverse proxy. In production mode we expect your reverse proxy to serve the static content since it does the job way better than anything else. If you did access diaspora* through a reverse proxy, make sure it has no configuration issues, has the public/ directory as document root and is set to look up if requested files are found there before directing the request to the application server.

Also make sure you ran bundle exec rake assets:precompile.

If you need to work around this requirement you can turn environment.assets.serve to true in config/diaspora.yml.

There are no uploaded images on my pod

First make sure other static content is working, as described in the previous section. We embed uploaded images with their full URL, this has to do with the way diaspora* makes sure your images can be seen by users on other pods. A common problem here is that environment.url in config/diaspora.yml, from which diaspora* constructs the full URL, is set to an incorrect value.

I can't find anybody on another pod / I am receiving posts but nobody is receiving mine

If you're having problems, make sure to search for people by their full diaspora* ID. Check that your Sidekiq worker is running. Check Sidekiq's retry queue for error messages. Check that the environement.certificate_authorities setting is correct.

I can't find myself from another pod / I am not receiving any posts but everybody is receiving mine

Check that your SSL setup is correct, this test gives a good indication. Make sure it's all green, no yellow, no red.

I'm getting the warning "... in production without Sidekiq workers"

Sidekiq is the backend we use for processing background jobs. Normally, Sidekiq is spawned as a separate process, but in this case you have configured diaspora* to run the jobs in the same process as the application. This is normally used for development or testing purposes, but if used in production, it can bring major performance penalties. Thus you should always run Sidekiq in its own process, by setting environment.single_process_mode to false in your config/diaspora.yml and starting the Sidekiq process with

RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec sidekiq

In case you are using script/server to start diaspora*, then you don't have to manually start the workers! This is already done by the script.

How can I troubleshoot my email configuration?

Use the following command to send an email and get the exceptions right on your console:

RAILS_ENV=production rails runner 'Notifier.admin("test message", User.where(username: "your_username")).each(&:deliver)'

Make sure to restart diaspora* once you successfully receive the test message.


Is there anything I should do before upgrading my installation?

Yes, read our notes for updating.

How do I roll back my installation if an update breaks it?

First, try to fix your installation; as always our IRC channel should be helpful for getting help with this.

To roll back, just do: git checkout ref Where ref is the identifier of the commit to go back to. It's a long string of letters and numbers. You can find the ref by doing a git log, eyeballing the commit dates, and figuring out where you were before you pulled. Of course it's best if you keep track of that ref before you update.

You can also checkout a particular version with git checkout v0.3.0.1, replacing the version of course.

After that just follow the same procedure that you would to update your installation.

What if there were database migrations in the code I am rolling back?

Then you also need to roll those back separately. You need to do this before you roll back the code. Look in the db/migrate directory and figure out which files are new since the last time you pulled - i.e., which migration your database should be on. They are in timestamp order in that directory. Then do: bundle exec rake db:rollback and look at the output. It will tell you which migration you are now on. It rolls back one each time you run it. Run it until you're on the right migration and then roll back the code as described above.

Also be aware that database rollbacks can fail - they depend on the migration author writing the correct code to roll back. So in this case it's generally much easier to seek help to fix your current setup than to roll it back.


Can I make my pod private/isolated/not communicate with other pods?

No. diaspora* is built around the idea of a distributed social network. We want to built one network, not enable special interest communities or companies to host their own social network (We do welcome you on diaspora* though!). A large amount of the development effort goes into making that one network possible and the whole user experience is designed around it. This not only means that the other existing solutions to built your own private network often have way better to your usecase suited feature set, it also means that if we would implement a switch to turn communication with other pods off, there would be many open ends in the user interface, yielding in a bad user experience.

Can I modify the code?

Yes. But keep in mind that diaspora* is licensed under the AGPLv3, that means you must make the currently running source code available to your users. For legal advice beyond that, please contact your lawyer.

Will a pod eventually receive federated posts that it misses while being offline/down?

Yes, eventually. We retry the delivery three times, at hourly intervals.

What do I do about all these PGErrors, like disconnects and SSL problems?

If you are running diaspora* with PostgreSQL, beware that having the SSL setting turned on in the PostgreSQL config has been causing problems for several people. We recommend turning it off unless you know what you're doing.

I've got my pod running. How do I disable outside logins?

Set settings.enable_registrations to false in your config/diaspora.yml and then restart diaspora*.

How do I back up my pod?

You should do backups of all user data, that is the whole database and uploaded images. For the images just make copies of the public/uploads directory. Then just dump all Diaspora_ databases from your database server. A web search should get you the information you need on how to do that. Make sure to store the backups on a different server, or at least on a different hard drive.

I am on PPC (e.g. old iMac) and want to use it for serving diaspora*, but there is no ExecJS compatible JS runtime

One thing you could do, assuming you have another PC that will run Node: Precompile your assets on that machine (using bundle exec rake assets:precompile) and then check them into git before you deploy to the PPC box, or just copy over the contents of public/assets. The Javascript runtime is only really needed for precompiling assets and shouldn't be loaded at all in the actual production environment. You may need to use git add public/assets -f to force git to check them in, since I think that directory is in .gitignore.

What are roles and how do I use them? / Make yourself an admin

We have a role system that allows to make some accounts 'special' during runtime, without restarting the server.

Currently you can manage the community spotlight and the admins through this system. Start by starting a Rails console:

bundle exec rails console production

You'll get a new shell where you can enter Ruby code. To exit it just press Ctrl+D or type exit or quit. Here are some examples to manage the roles, replace the_username with the user's username, not their full diaspora* ID:

Role.add_admin User.where(username: "the_username").first.person     # Add an user as admin by username
Role.add_admin User.where(email: "the_email").first.person           # Add an user as admin by email
Role.add_spotlight User.where(username: "the_username").first.person # Add an user to the 'community spotlight' by username
Role.add_spotlight User.where(email: "the_email").first.person       # Add an user to the 'community spotlight' by email

Congratulation, you now have access to the /admins and /admin_panel pages :)

Followed tags don't work on my pod

There is no synchronization in diaspora*. This means your pod only knows about posts it has received for a purpose. These purposes are, of course: the author is local, someone on your pod is following the post's author, or the post's author is following someone on your pod. Another reason is that the post got reshared by someone whom one of the users on your pod follows. Tags are not federated to all pods: the #Followed Tags stream displays only posts your pod knows about through one of the previous scenarios.

My log files are getting huge, help!

Configure yourself a log rotation solution. For example, on Linux distros, do this with logrotate, something like the following (change the paths where needed) in /etc/logrotate.d/diaspora:

/home/diaspora/diaspora/log/*.log {
   rotate 5

Once you've added the file to "/etc/logrotate.d/" run

sudo logrotate -f /etc/logrotate.conf

How can I send an email to a user / a group of users?

You need a working email configuration. Fire up your rails console with rails console production, then follow one of the examples or make up your own:

Notifier.admin("important message", User.where(username: "someuser")).each(&:deliver)                  # Send a message to someuser
Notifier.admin("important message", User.where(username: ["someuser", "anotheruser"])).each(&:deliver) # Send a message to a group of users
Notifier.admin("important message", User.yearly_actives).each(&:deliver)                               # Send a message to all active users

What if my question isn't answered here?

Just ask us! Read more on how to do that at How we communicate.