Discourse (fossrit.community)

This page documents the Discourse service used for our community forums at fossrit.community. Discourse is where anyone may share topics for discussion with the wider FOSS@RIT community.

Contact information

  • Owner: FOSS@MAGIC Tech Team
  • Contact: #rit-foss-admin / #rit-foss-admin:matrix.org / telegram.me/fossrit_infra
  • Persons: Justin W. Flory
  • Location: Toronto, Canada (TOR1)
  • Servers: fossrit.community
  • Purpose: Discussion forums for FOSS@RIT community.


The current deployment is made up of a single DigitalOcean droplet, fossrit.community. This host runs:

This host relies on:

  • SendGrid API key (for outgoing mail, eventually incoming)


Our Discourse site was deployed exactly as described in upstream’s documentation:


We do not use config files to maintain Discourse. The config settings are dynamic and stored inside the image container. If a rollback is needed, see Backups.


Excerpt from meta.discourse.org.

If you self-host Discourse, you occasionally need to run a manual update via the command line to get the latest security releases newest libraries. These updates are not picked up in admin/upgrade, which is why you’ll occasionally need to do this additional step.

  • Discourse itself should be updated about twice a month, by clicking the “Update to Latest Version” button in your admin dashboard (admin/upgrade). We do beta releases roughly once every week.
  • Every two months we recommend SSH’ing into your web server and doing
cd /var/discourse
git pull
./launcher rebuild app
  • As for Ubuntu updates, make sure you have automatic security updates enabled for your Ubuntu! The command is:
dpkg-reconfigure -plow unattended-upgrades
However, that just covers critical security updates. Every so often you should get all the OS updates like so:
apt-get update
apt-get dist-upgrade

To summarize:

  • update Discourse twice a month via web updater
  • update the container every two months
  • update the OS every six months

You could double these numbers and still be fairly safe, e.g. update Discourse once a month, container every 4 months, OS once every 12 months, and so on.

But you really, really want automatic security updates enabled in Ubuntu, as listed above – all our Digital Ocean “one-time installs” already have automatic security updates set up.


Two types of backups are made of the Discourse site:

Site-level backups

The Discourse site takes a weekly backup of site content, usually between 00:00–01:00 on Thursdays. These backups are available from the admin panel:

These backups can be used for rollbacks, triggered by admin users.

Droplet-level snapshots

Snapshots are currently enabled via DigitalOcean ($2/month). They are scheduled to start weekly Friday 3 PM to Saturday 2 PM (EST). Snapshots can be accessed via the DigitalOcean droplet settings.