Canonical version of this article at https://gitlab.com/ptman/matrix-docs/tree/master/free-matrix-server
Free domain name
Get one from Freenom or DuckDNS for free or any other place you wish. Freenom can be tricky to renew for free after the first year. A Matrix server cannot be migrated from one domain to another, so you might want to get a longer-lived one.
- https://tld-list.com/ - find cheap domains, look at renewal fees also
- https://www.namecheap.com/promos/99-cent-domain-names/ - cheap first year
You also need to specify subdomains (which is why most dynamic dns services aren't sufficient). To do this I added the domain on the free Cloudflare plan. You can also use freenom dns management if you prefer.
Get a free server
Comparison of free cloud offerings (2021/09):
|Vendor||Time-limit||Count||RAM (GB)||Storage (GB)||Transfer (GB)|
|AWS||12 months||1 t2.micro||1||30||15|
|Azure||12 months||1 B1S||1||2x 64||15|
|GCP||no limit||1 e2-micro||1||30||1|
|Oracle||no limit||1-4 VM.Standard.A1.Flex||24||200||10000|
Note that the Oracle ARM instances may not be compatible with all available software. Also, Oracle seems to shut down your always free cloud instances at the end of your 30 day trial. They can not be started back up, but you can create new ones by cloning the disk images, so no data should be lost. Keeping backups is good practise in any case.
If you choose to, register on Oracle Cloud (requires credit card for verification) and create a free VM:
- Create a VM.Standard.A1.Flex VM instance
- Give it a name
- OS/image: Canonical Ubuntu 20.04
- Show Shape, Network and Storage Options -> Assign a public IP address
- Add SSH key (generate one using
ssh-keygenif you don't have one)
- Show advanced options. I removed monitoring, since I'll remove the monitoring agent later.
View resources and make sure the instance and boot volume are "Always Free" if you don't intent to pay for them.
Make sure you can ssh to the server (using the ssh key you generated/picked)
using the user 'ubuntu' and can use
TURN/STUN and coturn
TURN/STUN is used for audio and video stream NAT/firewall traversal. coturn implements the protocol. If you don't need 1-on-1 video/audio calls, or if you're sure NAT and firewall won't be a problem (e.g. you only do calls on networks where you're sure traffic can flow) you can disable coturn to save some more RAM. Generally using coturn gives you much more reliable audio/video calls.
Oracle Cloud Security lists
View resources -> Instances -> Select instance -> Virtual Cloud Network -> Public Subnet -> Security Lists -> Default -> Ingress
Open incoming for CIDR 0.0.0.0/0:
- 22/tcp for SSH (should be open already)
- 80/tcp for HTTP
- 443/tcp for HTTPS
- 8448/tcp for Matrix federation
- 3478/tcp, 5349/tcp, 3478/udp, 5349/udp, 49152-49172/udp for TURN/STUN
The Oracle Cloud Ubuntu images come with somewhat restrictive iptables rules by default. Docker manages the instance firewall and we have the Oracle Cloud firewall in front, so let's remove the current firewall to avoid trouble:
apt purge netfilter-persistent iptables-persistent
Point domain at server
Assuming you're using a new domain only for this you need the following DNS records:
- A record
- CNAME record
- CNAME record
Follow the guide, with some tweaks:
Guide in a nutshell, TL;DR
If you are too busy to read the guide, here are the most important steps:
git clone https://github.com/spantaleev/matrix-docker-ansible-deploy/ cd matrix-docker-ansible-deploy mkdir inventory/host_vars/matrix.$domain cp examples/vars.yml inventory/host_vars/matrix.$domain/vars.yml cp examples/hosts inventory/hosts $EDITOR inventory/hosts # put most settings here in vars.yml, read following sections for some ideas $EDITOR inventory/host_vars/matrix.$domain/vars.yml # you'll need to rerun setup-all and start tags again if you edit vars later ansible-playbook -i inventory/hosts setup.yml --tags=setup-all,start ansible-playbook -i inventory/hosts setup.yml --tags=self-check ansible-playbook -i inventory/hosts setup.yml -e username=$user -e password=$pass -e admin=yes --tags=register-user
Set playbook architecture to arm64 if using Oracle Cloud ARM instances
Serve the base domain as well (unless you already have something serving it)
Configure the public IP address for coturn
Point your browser to https://element.$domain or use another client.
Remember to keep your VM up to date!
apt update apt upgrade reboot # e.g. kernel,dbus,systemd updates
To keep the matrix services upgraded, start by reading the maintenance docs, but really, take a brief look at all the documentation.
Keep backups! You never know when the providers decide the free resources won't be offered anymore.
- #free-matrix-server:matrix.org to discuss this guide specifically
- #matrix-docker-ansible-deploy:devture.com to discuss the playbook used in this guide
- #synapse:matrix.org to discuss running synapse in general
- Email author at [email protected].
Please contribute improvements to this guide via PRs (github or gitlab)