Install in the cloud

Introduction

If you do not wish to opt for the hosted solution (PRO Hosting from Deltablot), you can install and manage your own eLabFTW instance on a Virtual Private Server (VPS).

A VPS is a shared server which looks like a dedicated server to you. Meaning you get root level access and can do what you want with it.

Pros:

  • you have complete control on your server and thus your data

  • it will only cost you the price of the server, which can be as low as 5$ a month + the domain name (a few $ per year)

  • you’ll improve your GNU/Linux administrator skills and knowledge

  • on the same server you can install other software, like a wiki, a forge, a chat app, etc…

  • you can run your own fork with your customizations

  • you’ll unleash your inner geek

Cons:

  • if you mess up you can only blame yourself

  • you’ll have to keep your instance updated and read the release notes

  • you’ll have to manage your own backups (and test them!)

  • you’ll be exposed to malicious actors trying to break into your server constantly

  • managing correctly a GNU/Linux server requires administration skills and knowledge

  • when you get hit by a ransomware malware, you’ll realize your backups are encrypted too :/

Your eLabFTW installation will run in a Docker container. Learn more about eLabFTW in Docker here.

If you don’t have a domain name already, you can get one from OVH, Gandi, 1&1 or any other domain name registrar. You can get one for half a dollar per year. It is required to have a domain name to run eLabFTW.

Note

If you don’t want to deal with server maintenance, TLS certificates renewal, backups and updates, have a look at PRO Hosting from Deltablot

A note about backups

Making reliable backups is hard. Even IT companies can get it wrong. See the postmortem of an incident at Gitlab. It is a very interesting article, illustrating how even if you have several restoration options, they might all fail. And that was before ransomware malware was prevalent! Now if you don’t have immutable snapshots on your filesystem where the backups live, you might have your backups encrypted too!

The point I’m trying to make is that a lot of things can go wrong, and if you care about your data, it might be a good option to look into the PRO Hosting offering or let a professional systems administrator take care of it.

Create your droplet

Warning

A proper subdomain is required. Subfolder install is not supported!

  • Create an account on DigitalOcean. Use this referral link to have 100$ offered!

  • Alternatively, you can use Vultr. Use this referral link to register an account! The rest of this tutorial is for DigitalOcean.

digitalocean logo
  • Create a droplet with Docker (from the One-click Apps tab), select a size and a region.

select docker app
  • Optional: enable backups (might be a good idea)

  • Optional but highly recommended: add your SSH key (documentation)

  • Create the droplet (it takes less than a minute)

  • Copy the IP address

  • Go to the control panel of your domain name provider. Point your domain (or subdomain) to the IP address of your drop. It might take a bit of time for the DNS to propagate (a few hours).

Install eLabFTW

  • Open a terminal and connect to your new server:

ssh root@<DROPLET_IP_ADDRESS>