Installation guide

This guide describes the installation of a small-scale installation of venueless using docker. By small-scale, we mean that everything is being run on one host and you don’t expect many thousands of participants for your events. It is absolutely possible to run venueless without docker if you have some experience working with Django and JavaScript projects, but we currently do not provide any documentation or support for it. At this time, venueless is a young, fast-moving project and we do not have the capacity to keep multiple different setup guides up to date.

Warning

venueless is still a work in progress and anything about deploying it might change. While we tried to give a good tutorial here, installing venueless will require solid Linux experience to get it right, and venueless is only really useful in combination with other pieces of software (eg. BigBlueButton, live streaming servers, …) which are not explained here and complex to install on their own. If this is too much for you, please reach out to hello@venueless.org to talk about commercial support or our SaaS offering.

We tested this guide on the Linux distribution Debian 10.0 but it should work very similar on other modern distributions, especially on all systemd-based ones.

Requirements

Please set up the following systems beforehand, we’ll not explain them here (but see these links for external installation guides):

  • Docker

  • A HTTP reverse proxy, e.g. nginx to allow HTTPS and websocket connections

  • A PostgreSQL 11+ database server

  • A redis server

This guide will assume PostgreSQL and redis are running on the host system. You can of course run them as docker containers as well if you prefer, you just need to adjust the hostnames in venueless’ configuration file. We also recommend that you use a firewall, although this is not a venueless-specific recommendation. If you’re new to Linux and firewalls, we recommend that you start with ufw.

Note

Please, do not run venueless without HTTPS encryption. You’ll handle user data and thanks to Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates can be obtained for free these days. We also do not provide support for HTTP-only installations except for evaluation purposes.

On this guide

All code lines prepended with a # symbol are commands that you need to execute on your server as root user; all lines prepended with a $ symbol can also be run by an unprivileged user.

Data files

First of all, you need to create a directory on your server that venueless can use to store files such as logs and make that directory writable to the user that runs venueless inside the docker container:

# mkdir /var/venueless-data
# chown -R 15371:15371 /var/venueless-data

Database

Next, we need a database and a database user. We can create these with any kind of database managing tool or directly on your psql shell:

# sudo -u postgres createuser -P venueless
# sudo -u postgres createdb -O venueless venueless

Make sure that your database listens on the network. If PostgreSQL on the same same host as docker, but not inside a docker container, we recommend that you just listen on the Docker interface by changing the following line in /etc/postgresql/<version>/main/postgresql.conf:

listen_addresses = 'localhost,172.17.0.1'

You also need to add a new line to /etc/postgresql/<version>/main/pg_hba.conf to allow network connections to this user and database:

host    venueless          venueless          172.17.0.1/16           md5

Restart PostgreSQL after you changed these files:

# systemctl restart postgresql

If you have a firewall running, you should also make sure that port 5432 is reachable from the 172.17.0.1/16 subnet.

Redis

For caching and many of our real-time features, we rely on redis as a powerful key-value store. Again, you will need to configure redis to listen on the correct interface by setting a parameter in /etc/redis/redis.conf. Additionally, we strongly recommend setting an authentication password:

bind 172.17.0.1 127.0.0.1
requirepass mysecurepassword

Now restart redis-server:

# systemctl restart redis-server

Config file

We now create a config directory and config file for venueless:

# mkdir /etc/venueless
# touch /etc/venueless/venueless.cfg
# chown -R 15371:15371 /etc/venueless/
# chmod 0700 /etc/venueless/venueless.cfg

Fill the configuration file /etc/venueless/venueless.cfg with the following content (adjusted to your environment):

[database]
backend=postgresql
name=venueless
user=venueless
; Replace with the password you chose above
password=*********
; In most docker setups, 172.17.0.1 is the address of the docker host. Adjuts
; this to wherever your database is running, e.g. the name of a linked container
host=172.17.0.1

[redis]
; In most docker setups, 172.17.0.1 is the address of the docker host. Adjuts
; this to wherever your database is running, e.g. the name of a linked container
host=172.17.0.1
; Replace with the password you chose above
auth=mysecurepassword

Docker image and service

First of all, download the latest venueless image by running:

$ docker pull venueless/venueless:latest

We recommend starting the docker container using systemd to make sure it runs correctly after a reboot. Create a file named /etc/systemd/system/venueless.service with the following content:

[Unit]
Description=venueless
After=docker.service
Requires=docker.service

[Service]
TimeoutStartSec=0
ExecStartPre=-/usr/bin/docker kill %n
ExecStartPre=-/usr/bin/docker rm %n
ExecStart=/usr/bin/docker run --name %n -p 8002:80 \
    -v /var/venueless-data:/data \
    -v /etc/venueless:/etc/venueless \
    --sysctl net.core.somaxconn=4096 \
    venueless/venueless:latest all
ExecStop=/usr/bin/docker stop %n

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

You can now run the following commands to enable and start the service:

# systemctl daemon-reload
# systemctl enable venueless
# systemctl start venueless

SSL

The following snippet is an example on how to configure a nginx proxy for venueless:

server {
    listen 80 default_server;
    listen [::]:80 ipv6only=on default_server;
    server_name venueless.mydomain.com;
}
server {
    listen 443 default_server;
    listen [::]:443 ipv6only=on default_server;
    server_name venueless.mydomain.com;

    ssl on;
    ssl_certificate /path/to/cert.chain.pem;
    ssl_certificate_key /path/to/key.pem;

    location / {
        proxy_set_header    Host $host;
        proxy_set_header    X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header    X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header    X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_set_header    Upgrade $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header    Connection "upgrade";
        proxy_set_header    X-Forwarded-Ssl on;
        proxy_read_timeout  300s;
        proxy_redirect              http:// https://;
        proxy_pass                  http://localhost:8002;
    }
}

We recommend reading about setting strong encryption settings for your web server.

Create your world

Everything in venueless happens in a world. A world basically represents your digital event, with everything it includes: Users, settings, rooms, and so on.

To create your first world, execute the following command and answer its questions. Right now, every world needs its own domain to run on:

$ docker exec -it venueless.service venueless create_world
Enter the internal ID for the new world (alphanumeric): myevent2020
Enter the title for the new world: My Event 2020
Enter the domain of the new world (e.g. myevent.example.org): venueless.mydomain.com
World created.
Default API keys: [{'issuer': 'any', 'audience': 'venueless', 'secret': 'zvB7hI28vbrI7KtsRnJ1TZBSN3DvYdoy9VoJGLI1ouHQP5VtRG3U6AgKJ9YOqKNU'}]

That’s it! You should now be able to access venueless on the configured domain.

Cronjobs

If you have multiple BigBlueButton servers, you should add a cronjob that polls the current meeting an user numbers for the BBB servers to update the load balancer’s cost function:

* * * * *   docker exec venueless.service venueless bbb_update_cost

Updates

Warning

While we try hard not to break things, please perform a backup before every upgrade.

Updates are fairly simple, but require at least a short downtime:

# docker pull venueless/venueless:latest
# systemctl restart venueless.service

Restarting the service can take a few seconds, especially if the update requires changes to the database.