There is a new version of this tutorial available for Ubuntu 22.04 (Jammy Jellyfish).

How to Install Focalboard Project Management on Ubuntu 20.04

Focalboard is a free, open-source, and self-hosted project management application used to organize, track and manage work across teams. It is a self-hosted and very good alternative to other project management applications such as Trello, Notion, and Asana. It allows us to manage projects across several systems such as Windows, Mac, or Linux.

Focalboard provides the following features:

  • Drag and Drop cards
  • Provide full control over cards
  • Import and export board
  • Supports multiple languages
  • Filter board and tasks by status, due date, etc.

In this post, we will show you how to install Focalboard with Nginx as a reverse proxy on Ubuntu 20.04.

Prerequisites

  • A server running Ubuntu 20.04.
  • A valid domain name pointed with your server IP.
  • A root password is configured on the server.

Install and Configure PostgreSQL

Focalboard uses PostgreSQL as a database backend. So you will need to install the PostgreSQL database server on your system.

You can install it with other packages using the following command:

apt-get install curl wget gnupg2 -y
apt-get install postgresql postgresql-contrib -y

Once PostgreSQL is installed, log in to PostgreSQL using the following command:

su - postgres
psql

Next, create a database and user for PostgreSQL with the following command:

CREATE DATABASE focalboards;
CREATE USER focaluser WITH PASSWORD 'password';

Next, exit from the PostgreSQL shell with the following command:

\q
exit

Once you are finished, you can proceed to the next step.

Install and Configure Focalboard

First, download the latest version of Focalboard with the following command:

VER=$(curl -s https://api.github.com/repos/mattermost/focalboard/releases/latest|grep tag_name | cut -d '"' -f 4)
wget https://github.com/mattermost/focalboard/releases/download/${VER}/focalboard-server-linux-amd64.tar.gz

Next, extract the downloaded file with the following command:

tar -xvzf focalboard-server-linux-amd64.tar.gz

Next, move the focalboard to the /opt directory using the following command:

mv focalboard /opt

Next, edit the Focalboard configuration file:

nano /opt/focalboard/config.json

Define your database as shown below:

"dbtype": "postgres",
"dbconfig": "postgres://focaluser:[email protected]/focalboards?sslmode=disable&connect_timeout=10",

Save and close the file when you are finished.

Create a Systemd Service File for Focalboard

Next, you will need to create a systemd service file to manage the Focalboard service. You can create it with the following command:

nano /lib/systemd/system/focalboard.service

Add the following lines:

[Unit]
Description=Focalboard server

[Service]
Type=simple
Restart=always
RestartSec=5s
ExecStart=/opt/focalboard/bin/focalboard-server
WorkingDirectory=/opt/focalboard

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Save and close the file then reload the systemd daemon to apply the changes:

systemctl daemon-reload

Next, start and enable the Focalboard service with the following command:

systemctl start focalboard
systemctl enable focalboard

You can now check the status of the Focalboard with the following command:

systemctl status focalboard

You will get the following output:

? focalboard.service - Focalboard server
     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/focalboard.service; disabled; vendor preset: enabled)
     Active: active (running) since Sun 2022-02-27 09:54:03 UTC; 6s ago
   Main PID: 9608 (focalboard-serv)
      Tasks: 4 (limit: 2348)
     Memory: 15.7M
     CGroup: /system.slice/focalboard.service
             ??9608 /opt/focalboard/bin/focalboard-server

Feb 27 09:54:06 ubuntupc focalboard-server[9608]: debug [2022-02-27 09:54:06.035 Z] listener(s) for blockID                  caller="ws/serve>
Feb 27 09:54:06 ubuntupc focalboard-server[9608]: debug [2022-02-27 09:54:06.035 Z] listener(s) for blockID                  caller="ws/serve>
Feb 27 09:54:06 ubuntupc focalboard-server[9608]: debug [2022-02-27 09:54:06.038 Z] listener(s) for workspaceID              caller="ws/serve>
Feb 27 09:54:06 ubuntupc focalboard-server[9608]: debug [2022-02-27 09:54:06.038 Z] listener(s) for blockID                  caller="ws/serve>
Feb 27 09:54:06 ubuntupc focalboard-server[9608]: debug [2022-02-27 09:54:06.038 Z] listener(s) for blockID                  caller="ws/serve>
Feb 27 09:54:06 ubuntupc focalboard-server[9608]: debug [2022-02-27 09:54:06.038 Z] import archive - done                    caller="app/impo>
Feb 27 09:54:06 ubuntupc focalboard-server[9608]: info  [2022-02-27 09:54:06.041 Z] initialized workspace                    caller="app/work>
Feb 27 09:54:06 ubuntupc focalboard-server[9608]: info  [2022-02-27 09:54:06.047 Z] Server.Start                             caller="server/s>
Feb 27 09:54:06 ubuntupc focalboard-server[9608]: info  [2022-02-27 09:54:06.047 Z] http server started                      caller="web/webs>
Feb 27 09:54:06 ubuntupc focalboard-server[9608]: info  [2022-02-27 09:54:06.053 Z] Starting unix socket server              caller="server/s>

At this point, Focalboard is started and running. You can check its listening ports using the following command:

ss -antpl | grep focalboard

You will get the following output:

LISTEN    0         4096                     *:8000                   *:*        users:(("focalboard-serv",pid=9608,fd=8))                                      
LISTEN    0         4096                     *:9092                   *:*        users:(("focalboard-serv",pid=9608,fd=9)) 

Once you are finished, you can proceed to the next step.

Configure Nginx as a Reverse Proxy

Next, you will need to install and configure Nginx as a reverse proxy to access the Focalboard via port 80. First, install the Nginx server with the following command:

apt-get install nginx -y

Once the Nginx server is installed, create an Nginx virtual host configuration file:

nano /etc/nginx/conf.d/focalboard.conf

Add the following lines:

upstream focalboard {
   server localhost:8000;
   keepalive 32;
}

server {
   listen 80;

   server_name focalboard.example.com;

   location ~ /ws/* {
       proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
       proxy_set_header Connection "upgrade";
       client_max_body_size 50M;
       proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
       proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
       proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
       proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;
       proxy_set_header X-Frame-Options SAMEORIGIN;
       proxy_buffers 256 16k;
       proxy_buffer_size 16k;
       client_body_timeout 60;
       send_timeout 300;
       lingering_timeout 5;
       proxy_connect_timeout 1d;
       proxy_send_timeout 1d;
       proxy_read_timeout 1d;
       proxy_pass http://focalboard;
   }

   location / {
       client_max_body_size 50M;
       proxy_set_header Connection "";
       proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
       proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
       proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
       proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;
       proxy_set_header X-Frame-Options SAMEORIGIN;
       proxy_buffers 256 16k;
       proxy_buffer_size 16k;
       proxy_read_timeout 600s;
       proxy_cache_revalidate on;
       proxy_cache_min_uses 2;
       proxy_cache_use_stale timeout;
       proxy_cache_lock on;
       proxy_http_version 1.1;
       proxy_pass http://focalboard;
   }
}

Save and close the file when you are finished then verify the Nginx for any syntax configuration error with the following command:

nginx -t

You will get the following output:

nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

Next, restart the Nginx service to apply the configuration changes:

systemctl restart nginx

You can also check the Nginx status using the following command:

systemctl status nginx

You should see the following output:

? nginx.service - A high performance web server and a reverse proxy server
     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/nginx.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
     Active: active (running) since Sun 2022-02-27 09:56:12 UTC; 4s ago
       Docs: man:nginx(8)
    Process: 10110 ExecStartPre=/usr/sbin/nginx -t -q -g daemon on; master_process on; (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
    Process: 10121 ExecStart=/usr/sbin/nginx -g daemon on; master_process on; (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
   Main PID: 10127 (nginx)
      Tasks: 2 (limit: 2348)
     Memory: 2.6M
     CGroup: /system.slice/nginx.service
             ??10127 nginx: master process /usr/sbin/nginx -g daemon on; master_process on;
             ??10128 nginx: worker process

Feb 27 09:56:11 ubuntupc systemd[1]: Starting A high performance web server and a reverse proxy server...
Feb 27 09:56:12 ubuntupc systemd[1]: Started A high performance web server and a reverse proxy server.

Access Focalboard Web Interface

Now, open your web browser and access the Focalboard web interface using the URL http://focalboard.example.com. You will be redirected to the Focalboard login page:

Click on the create an account button. You should see the Focalboard account creation page:

Provide your email address, admin username, password, and click on the Register button. You should see the Focalboard dashboard on the following page:

Secure Focalboard with Let's Encrypt SSL

Next, you will need to install the Certbot client package to install the manage the Let's Encrypt SSL. First, install the Certbot with the following command:

apt-get install python3-certbot-nginx -y

Once the installation is finished, run the following command to install the Let's Encrypt SSL on your website:

certbot --nginx -d focalboard.example.com

You will be asked to provide a valid email address and accept the term of service as shown below:

Saving debug log to /var/log/letsencrypt/letsencrypt.log
Plugins selected: Authenticator nginx, Installer nginx
Enter email address (used for urgent renewal and security notices) (Enter 'c' to
cancel): [email protected]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Please read the Terms of Service at
https://letsencrypt.org/documents/LE-SA-v1.2-November-15-2017.pdf. You must
agree in order to register with the ACME server at
https://acme-v02.api.letsencrypt.org/directory
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
(A)gree/(C)ancel: A

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Would you be willing to share your email address with the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, a founding partner of the Let's Encrypt project and the non-profit
organization that develops Certbot? We'd like to send you email about our work
encrypting the web, EFF news, campaigns, and ways to support digital freedom.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
(Y)es/(N)o: Y
Obtaining a new certificate
Performing the following challenges:
http-01 challenge for focalboard.example.com
Waiting for verification...
Cleaning up challenges
Deploying Certificate to VirtualHost /etc/nginx/conf.d/focalboard.conf

Next, choose whether or not to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS as shown below:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1: No redirect - Make no further changes to the webserver configuration.
2: Redirect - Make all requests redirect to secure HTTPS access. Choose this for
new sites, or if you're confident your site works on HTTPS. You can undo this
change by editing your web server's configuration.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Select the appropriate number [1-2] then [enter] (press 'c' to cancel): 2

Type 2 and hit Enter to finish the installation. You should see the following output:

Redirecting all traffic on port 80 to ssl in /etc/nginx/conf.d/focalboard.conf

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Congratulations! You have successfully enabled https://focalboard.example.com

You should test your configuration at:
https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/analyze.html?d=focalboard.example.com
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

IMPORTANT NOTES:
 - Congratulations! Your certificate and chain have been saved at:
   /etc/letsencrypt/live/focalboard.example.com/fullchain.pem
   Your key file has been saved at:
   /etc/letsencrypt/live/focalboard.example.com/privkey.pem
   Your cert will expire on 2022-05-27. To obtain a new or tweaked
   version of this certificate in the future, simply run certbot again
   with the "certonly" option. To non-interactively renew *all* of
   your certificates, run "certbot renew"
 - Your account credentials have been saved in your Certbot
   configuration directory at /etc/letsencrypt. You should make a
   secure backup of this folder now. This configuration directory will
   also contain certificates and private keys obtained by Certbot so
   making regular backups of this folder is ideal.
 - If you like Certbot, please consider supporting our work by:

   Donating to ISRG / Let's Encrypt:   https://letsencrypt.org/donate
   Donating to EFF:                    https://eff.org/donate-le

 - We were unable to subscribe you the EFF mailing list because your
   e-mail address appears to be invalid. You can try again later by
   visiting https://act.eff.org.

Conclusion

Congratulations! you have successfully installed Focalboard with Nginx as a reverse proxy on Ubuntu 20.04. You can now use Focalboard to manage and track your projects easily from the web browser. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions.

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