🌀Self-HostingEjabberd

Ejabberd is a server for the XMPP protocol written in Erlang. It's easier to configure and setup than Prosody due to having most of its modules built-in and pre-configured by default.

Initial server setup

This section of the guide will run through the basic installation and setup of ejabberd for minimal functionality.

Prerequisites

  • Debian 10 or newer

  • Certbot installed, with the NGINX plugin

  • Ports 80, 443 and 5222-5443 port-forwarded on your router/modem

  • If you plan on using ejabberd's built-in turnserver, this will also utilize ports 3478 and 49152–65535.

  • Your own domain with an A DNS entry set to the public IPv4 address of your server

  • Basic UNIX knowledge

Subdomains

Ejabberd presumes that you have already created all the required and optional subdomains for its operation prior to running it.

Depending on the usecase, you may need any or all of the following domains for XMPP functionality:

  • example.org - Your XMPP hostname

  • conference.example.org - For Multi User Chats (MUCs)

  • upload.example.org - For file upload support

  • proxy.example.org - For SOCKS5 proxy support

  • pubsub.example.org - For publish-subscribe support

This guide will assume all these subdomains have been created.

Custom subdomains

You can always setup custom subdomains for all the different modules in Ejabberd. This can be done by going to the individual module in the /etc/ejabberd/ejabberd.yml config file, and using the host: option:

mod_muc:
  host: muc.example.org

(This config changes the default conference.example.org domain to muc.example.org.)

Installation

Ejabberd is available in the Debian repositories:

apt install ejabberd

Configuration

The ejabberd server is configured in /etc/ejabberd/ejabberd.yml. Changes are only applied by restarting the ejabberd daemon in systemd:

systemctl restart ejabberd

Hostnames

The XMPP hostname is specified in the hosts section of ejabberd.yml:

hosts:
  - example.org

Certificates

Unlike Prosody, ejabberd doesn't come equipped with a script that can automatically copy over the relevant certificates to a directory where the ejabberd user can read them. Ejabberd does have built in ACME support to request certificates, but this makes no sense if you already have certbot installed on your system.

One way of organizing certificates for ejabberd is to have them stored in /etc/ejabberd/certs, with each domain having a separate directory for both the fullchain cert and private key.

Using certbot, this process can be easily automated using a basic shell script:

DOMAIN=example.org

declare -a subdomains=("" "conference." "proxy." "pubsub." "upload.")
for i in "${subdomains[@]}"; do
        certbot --nginx -d $i$DOMAIN certonly
        mkdir -p /etc/ejabberd/certs/$i$DOMAIN
        cp /etc/letsencrypt/live/$i$DOMAIN/fullchain.pem /etc/ejabberd/certs/$i$DOMAIN
        cp /etc/letsencrypt/live/$i$DOMAIN/privkey.pem /etc/ejabberd/certs/$i$DOMAIN
done

This should be ran with your XMPP hostname (example.org). Any custom domain names should be specified in the subdomains array.

After running this, ensure all the certfiles are legible by the ejabberd user:

chown -R ejabberd:ejabberd /etc/ejabberd/certs

To enable the use of all these certificates in ejabberd, the following configuration is necessary:

certfiles:
  - "/etc/ejabberd/certs/*/*.pem"

Admin User

The admin user can be specified in ejabberd.yml under the acl section:

acl:
  admin:
    user: admin

This would make admin@example.org the user with administrator privileges.

Database

Why use a database?

In the mod_mam section of the ejabberd config file, the following message is in comments:

mod_mam:
  ## Mnesia is limited to 2GB, better to use an SQL backend
  ## For small servers SQLite is a good fit and is very easy
  ## to configure. Uncomment this when you have SQL configured:
  ## db_type: sql

As these comments imply, an SQL backend is strongly recommended if you wish to use your ejabberd server for anything more than just testing. Ejabberd supports MySQL, SQLite and PostgreSQL.

While all of those are suitable choices, the best database system to use is PostgreSQL. It's the same database backend used by PeerTube and Matrix, making it the most convenient option if you're already running those too.

Installing PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL is available in the Debian repositories:

apt install postgresql

Start the PostgreSQL daemon to begin using it:

systemctl start postgresql

To use PostgreSQL with Ejabberd, you'll have to install the following Erlang package:

apt install erlang-p1-pgsql

Creating the Database

To create the database, first create a PostgreSQL user for ejabberd:

su -c "createuser --pwprompt ejabberd" postgres

Then, create the database and make ejabberd its owner:

su -c "psql -c 'CREATE DATABASE ejabberd OWNER ejabberd' " postgres

Importing Database Scheme

Ejabberd doesn't create the database scheme by default; It has to be imported into the database before use.

su -c "curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/processone/ejabberd/master/sql/pg.sql | psql postgresql://ejabberd:psql_password@localhost:5432/ejabberd" postgres

Configuring ejabberd to use PostgreSQL

Finally, add the following configuration to ejabberd.yml:

default_db: sql
sql_type: pgsql
sql_server: "localhost"
sql_database: "ejabberd"
sql_username: "ejabberd"
sql_password: "psql_password"

The line default_db: sql makes it so that every module in Ejabberd uses PostgreSQL for storage.

If you don't want to enable SQL storage by default for all server modules, you can selectively enable SQL storage for specific modules, with the db_type option:

mod_mam:
  ## (Other parameters)
  db_type: sql

File uploads

Using ejabberd

Registering the Admin User

To begin using ejabberd, firstly start the ejabberd daemon:

systemctl restart ejabberd

Then, using ejabberdctl as the ejabberd user, register the admin user which is set in ejabberd.yml:

su -c "ejabberdctl register admin example.org password" ejabberd

This will create the user admin@example.org.

Using the Web Interface

By default, ejabberd has a web interface accessible from example.org:5280/admin. When accessing this interface, you will be prompted for the admin credentials:

After signing in with the admin credentials, you will be able to manage your ejabberd server from this web interface:

TURN & STUN for Calls

Ejabberd supports the TURN and STUN protocols to allow internet users behind NATs to perform voice and video calls with other XMPP users.

If you're running ejabberd on a system which isn't behind an NAT (like a VPS), then setting up a separate coturn server is optional as ejabberd already contains one. The following steps are only for users that run their ejabberd server behind an NAT, but have access to a separate server to act as their TURN server.

Firstly, setup a TURN and STUN server with Coturn, using an authentication secret.

Then, edit mod_stun_disco to contain the appropriate information for your turnserver:

  mod_stun_disco:
    secret: "your_shared_secret"
    services:
    -
      host: turn.example.org
      type: stun
    -
      host: turn.example.org
      type: turn

And with that, you've successfully setup your ejabberd XMPP server!