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Install Funkwhale using Docker

Funkwhale is available as a containerized application. This enables you to run each service in containers rather than install them on your server. You can run Funkwhale using Docker.


This guide assumes you are using a Debian-based system.

Before you begin

  • Set a FUNKWHALE_VERSION variable to the version you want to install. You will use this version for all commands in this guide.

    export FUNKWHALE_VERSION=1.4.0
  • Install Docker and the compose plugin.

  • Install curl.

    sudo apt update # update apt cache
    sudo apt install curl

1. Create a Funkwhale user

It’s good practice to create a user on your server for Funkwhale administration. Doing this makes it easy to make sure you’re running commands from the right place. Follow these steps to set up your user.

  1. Create the funkwhale user and set its shell to bash and its home directory to /srv/funkwhale.

    sudo useradd --system --shell /bin/bash --create-home --home-dir /srv/funkwhale funkwhale


To perform any tasks as the funkwhale user, prefix your commands with sudo -u funkwhale.

sudo -u funkwhale <command>

Or log in as funkwhale with sudo su funkwhale before running your commands.

sudo su funkwhale

That’s it! You’ve created your funkwhale user.

2. Download the project files

  1. Create the project directory structure.

    mkdir /srv/funkwhale /srv/funkwhale/nginx
  2. Navigate to the project directory

    cd /srv/funkwhale
  3. Download the docker compose template. This contains information about the containers and how they work together.

    curl -L -o /srv/funkwhale/docker-compose.yml "${FUNKWHALE_VERSION}/deploy/docker-compose.yml"

That’s it! You’ve set up your project files.

3. Set up your environment file

The environment file contains options you can use to control your Funkwhale pod. Follow these steps to get a working environment up and running.

  1. Download the .env template to your /srv/funkwhale directory.

    curl -L -o /srv/funkwhale/.env "${FUNKWHALE_VERSION}/deploy/"
  2. Update FUNKWHALE_VERSION in the .env file to the $FUNKWHALE_VERSION variable you set earlier.

  3. Reduce the permissions on your .env file to 600. This means that only your user can read and write this file.

    chmod 600 /srv/funkwhale/.env
  4. Generate a secret key for Django. This keeps your Funkwhale data secure. Do not share this key with anybody.

    openssl rand -base64 45
  5. Open the .env file in a text editor. For this example, we will use nano.

    nano /srv/funkwhale/.env
  6. Update the following settings:

    • Paste the secret key in the DJANGO_SECRET_KEY field.

    • Populate the FUNKWHALE_HOSTNAME field with the URL of your server.

  7. Hit ctrl + x then y to save the file and close nano.

You’re done! Your environment file is now ready to go. You can check out a full list of configuration options in our Environment file guide.

4. Set up Funkwhale

Once you’ve filled in your environment file, you can set up Funkwhale. Follow these steps to create your database and create a superuser.

  1. Pull the containers to download all the required services.

    cd /srv/funkwhale
    sudo docker compose pull
  2. Bring up the database container so you can run the database migrations.

    sudo docker compose up -d postgres
  3. Run the database migrations.

    sudo docker compose run --rm api funkwhale-manage migrate


    You may see the following warning when applying migrations:

    "Your models have changes that are not yet reflected in a migration, and so won't be applied."

    You can safely ignore this warning.

  4. Create your superuser.

    sudo docker compose run --rm api funkwhale-manage fw users create --superuser
  5. Launch all the containers to bring up your pod.

    sudo docker compose up -d

That’s it! Your Funkwhale pod is now up and running.

5. Set up your reverse proxy

Funkwhale requires a reverse proxy to serve content to users. We recommend using Nginx to handle requests to your container. Follow this guide to install an Nginx configuration using details from your .env file.


Before you begin Nginx isn’t preinstalled on Debian. You can install it by running the following commands:

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install nginx
  1. Log in to a root shell to make changes to the config files

    $ sudo su
  2. Download the new Nginx templates from Funkwhale

    # curl -L -o /etc/nginx/funkwhale_proxy.conf "$FUNKWHALE_VERSION/deploy/funkwhale_proxy.conf"
    # curl -L -o /etc/nginx/sites-available/funkwhale.template "$FUNKWHALE_VERSION/deploy/docker.proxy.template"
  3. Update the Nginx configuration with details from your .env file

    # set -a && source /srv/funkwhale/config/.env && set +a
    envsubst "`env | awk -F = '{printf \" $%s\", $$1}'`" \
       < /etc/nginx/sites-available/funkwhale.template \
       > /etc/nginx/sites-available/funkwhale.conf
  4. Check the configuration file to make sure the template values have been updated properly

    # grep '${' /etc/nginx/sites-available/funkwhale.conf
  1. Create a symbolic link to the sites-enabled directory to enable your configuration

    # ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/funkwhale.conf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/
  2. Reload Nginx

    # systemctl reload nginx

That’s it! You’ve created your Nginx file.

Override default Nginx templates

The frontend container ships default Nginx templates which serve content to the reverse proxy. These files read variables from your .env file to correctly serve content. In some cases, you might want to override these defaults. To do this:

  1. Create a /srv/funkwhale/nginx directory to house your files.

    mkdir /srv/funkwhale/nginx
  2. Download the Nginx template files to the /srv/funkwhale/nginx directory.

    curl -L -o /srv/funkwhale/nginx/funkwhale.template "${FUNKWHALE_VERSION}/front/docker/funkwhale.conf.template"
    curl -L -o /srv/funkwhale/nginx/funkwhale_proxy.conf "${FUNKWHALE_VERSION}/front/docker/funkwhale_proxy.conf"
  3. Make any changes you want to make to these files.

  4. Open your docker-compose.yml file in a text editor. For this example, we will use nano.

    nano /srv/funkwhale/docker-compose.yml
  5. Uncomment the lines in the volumes section of the front service by deleting the # in front of them.

    version: "3"
             # Uncomment if you want to use your previous nginx config, please let us
             # know what special configuration you need, so we can support it with out
             # upstream nginx configuration!
             - "./nginx/funkwhale.template:/etc/nginx/conf.d/funkwhale.template:ro"
             - "./nginx/funkwhale_proxy.conf:/etc/nginx/funkwhale_proxy.conf:ro"
  6. Bring the front container up again to pick up the changes.

    sudo docker compose up -d front

That’s it! The container mounts your custom nginx files and uses its values to serve Funkwhale content. To revert to the default values, comment out the volumes by adding a # in front of them and bring the front container back up.

6. Set up TLS

To enable your users to connect to your pod securely, you need to set up TLS. To do this, we recommend using certbot.

  1. Install certbot

    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install certbot python3-certbot-nginx
  2. Run certbot

    sudo certbot --nginx -d $FUNKWHALE_HOSTNAME

That’s it! certbot renews your certificate every 60 days, so you don’t need to worry about renewing it.