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Install Funkwhale on Debian

We support Debian and Debian-based Linux distributions. Follow these steps to set up Funkwhale on a Debian server.

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 curl

    sudo apt update # update apt cache
    sudo apt install curl

1. Install Funkwhale dependencies

To install Funkwhale on your server, you first need to install its dependencies. We provide all dependencies in a single file to enable you to install everything at once. You can pass the information from this file to apt using the following command:

sudo apt install $(curl$FUNKWHALE_VERSION/deploy/requirements.apt)

When prompted, hit y to confirm the install.

That’s it! apt installs all dependencies and tells you once it has finished.

2. 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.

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.

3. Download Funkwhale

Once you’ve created your funkwhale user you can download the Funkwhale software itself.

Create the directory layout

  1. Go to the /srv/funkwhale directory.

    cd /srv/funkwhale
  2. Create the directories for Funkwhale.

    sudo mkdir -p config api data/static data/media data/music front
  3. Allow the Funkwhale user to write to the data directories.

    sudo chown -R funkwhale:funkwhale data

That’s it! Your directory structure should look like this:

├── api           # the Funkwhale API
├── config        # config / environment files
├── data          # files served by the API
|   ├── media     # storage location for media files
|   ├── music     # storage location for audio files
|   └── static    # storage location for persistent data
└── front         # frontend files for the user interface

Download the Funkwhale release

Once you’ve created the directory structure you can download Funkwhale. Funkwhale comes in two parts: the API and the Frontend. You need both to run the application.

  1. Download the API.

    sudo curl -L -o "api-$" "$FUNKWHALE_VERSION/download?job=build_api"
    sudo unzip "api-$" -d extracted
    sudo mv extracted/api/* api/
    sudo rm -rf extracted api-$
  2. Download the frontend

    sudo curl -L -o "front-$" "$FUNKWHALE_VERSION/download?job=build_front"
    sudo unzip "front-$" -d extracted
    sudo mv extracted/front .
    sudo rm -rf extracted front-$

You’re done! These commands put the software in the correct location for Funkwhale to serve them.

4. Install the Funkwhale API

The Funkwhale API is written in Python. You need to install the API’s package to run the software:

  1. Set up a Python virtual environment:

    cd /srv/funkwhale
    sudo python3 -m venv venv
    sudo venv/bin/pip install --upgrade pip wheel
  2. Install the Funkwhale API package and dependencies:

    sudo venv/bin/pip install --editable ./api

You’re done!

5. 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/config directory.

    sudo curl -L -o /srv/funkwhale/config/.env "$FUNKWHALE_VERSION/deploy/"
  2. Generate a secret key for Django. This keeps your Funkwhale data secure. Do not share this key with anybody.

    openssl rand -base64 45
  3. Reduce the permissions on your .env file to 600. This means that only the funkwhale user can read and write this file.

    sudo chown funkwhale:funkwhale /srv/funkwhale/config/.env
    sudo chmod 600 /srv/funkwhale/config/.env
  4. Open the .env file in a text editor. For this example, we will use nano.

    sudo nano /srv/funkwhale/config/.env
  5. Update the following settings:

    • Paste the secret key in the DJANGO_SECRET_KEY field.

    • Populate the DATABASE_URL field:

    • Populate the CACHE_URL field:

    • Populate the FUNKWHALE_HOSTNAME field with the domain name of your server.

  6. 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.

6. Set up your database

Funkwhale uses a PostgreSQL database to store information. Follow these steps to set up your database.

  1. Install PostgreSQL and the postgresql-contrib package. This package contains extra features that Funkwhale uses.

    sudo apt-get install postgresql postgresql-contrib
  2. Once you’ve installed PostgreSQL, launch a psql shell as the postgres user to set up your database.

    sudo -u postgres psql
  3. Create your Funkwhale database.

  4. Create a user for Funkwhale. This user needs all privileges so it can manage the database.

    CREATE USER funkwhale;
    GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON DATABASE funkwhale TO funkwhale;
  5. Once you’re finished, exit the shell

  6. Run the following commands to create extra extensions for the funkwhale database.

    sudo -u postgres psql funkwhale -c 'CREATE EXTENSION "unaccent";'
    sudo -u postgres psql funkwhale -c 'CREATE EXTENSION "citext";'
  7. Your database is ready to be populated! Use the funkwhale-manage command line interface to create the database structure.

    cd /srv/funkwhale
    sudo -u funkwhale venv/bin/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.

That’s it! You’ve finished setting up your database.

7. Set up Funkwhale

Once you’ve got your database up and running, you can get Funkwhale ready to launch. Use the built-in funkwhale-manage command line interface to get things ready.

Create a superuser for your pod


You can create several superusers.

To start using Funkwhale, you need to create a superuser for your pod. This user has all the permissions needed to administrate the pod. Follow these steps to create a superuser.

sudo -u funkwhale venv/bin/funkwhale-manage fw users create --superuser

That’s it! You can log in as this user when you finish setting up Funkwhale.

Collect static files

Funkwhale uses several static assets to serve its frontend. Use the funkwhale-manage command line interface to collect these files so that the webserver can serve them.

sudo venv/bin/funkwhale-manage collectstatic

8. Set up systemd unit files

Funkwhale uses systemd to manage its services. systemd helps prevent downtime by bringing services back up if they fail. It also starts your Funkwhale services after a reboot. Follow these steps to set up Funkwhale services with systemd.

  1. Download the sample unit files from Funkwhale.

    sudo curl -L -o "/etc/systemd/system/" "$FUNKWHALE_VERSION/deploy/"
    sudo curl -L -o "/etc/systemd/system/funkwhale-server.service" "$FUNKWHALE_VERSION/deploy/funkwhale-server.service"
    sudo curl -L -o "/etc/systemd/system/funkwhale-worker.service" "$FUNKWHALE_VERSION/deploy/funkwhale-worker.service"
    sudo curl -L -o "/etc/systemd/system/funkwhale-beat.service" "$FUNKWHALE_VERSION/deploy/funkwhale-beat.service"
  2. Reload systemd to register the new services.

    sudo systemctl daemon-reload
  3. Start all Funkwhale services.

    sudo systemctl start
  4. Enable the services. Systemd can then start the services after a reboot.

    sudo systemctl enable --now

That’s it! systemd keeps these services running and starts them up in the correct order after a reboot.

9. Set up a reverse proxy

Funkwhale uses a reverse proxy to serve content to users. We use Nginx to serve this proxy. 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/nginx.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.

10. 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.