Snikket quick-start guide

Hi, welcome! This is a guide to help you set up your own Snikket service. Once it is set up, you will be able to invite others to join you using the Snikket app and chat over your own private messaging server!

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Not sure what this is all about, or self-hosting is not your kind of fun? Good news: we also provide hosted Snikket instances! You can start a Snikket instance for your group in just a few clicks with no technical expertise necessary.


To follow this guide you will need:

  • A server running Linux that you have SSH or terminal access to
  • A domain name that you can create subdomains on

For the server, you can use a VPS from a provider such as DigitalOcean (you can use this referral link for $100 credit), or you can use a physical device such as a Raspberry Pi. Note that if you run your server at home (which is really cool!) you may need to forward some ports on your router.

If you don’t have a domain name yet, see the FAQ “Do I need to register a domain name to use Snikket?” for some advice.

Also, if you plan to host your Snikket instance at home, check with your ISP whether you have a static or dynamic IP address on your home connection. For advice on setting up Snikket with a dynamic IP, see “Can I host Snikket if I have a dynamic IP address?”.

Note: Snikket provides a built-in web server that must be accessible on port 80. This guide assumes you are not running any existing websites on the same server. If you are running other HTTP services on the same server, refer to our reverse proxy documentation after you complete step 3.

Get Started

Heads up! Snikket is still a relatively young project. We’re still working hard on it and there are many improvements and features that are still to come.

If you have any questions, feedback, or words of encouragement, we’d love to hear from you! Email us at

Right, let’s get started!

Step 1: DNS

First you need to find your server’s public (“external”) IP address. If you are using a hosted server, this may be shown in your management dashboard. At a pinch you can use an online service, e.g. by running curl -4 in your terminal.

Now, add an A record for your IP address on the domain you want to run Snikket on. In the examples I’m going to use ‘’ as the domain, and ‘’ as the IP address. This will be the primary domain for your Snikket instance.

# Domain           TTL  Class  Type  Target  300  IN     A

How to add records depends on where your DNS is hosted. Here are links to guides for a few common providers:

Tip: If you have an IPv6 address too, this is where you can add it - simply make another record for with the record type AAAA and put your IPv6 address as the target.

Now that you have an A record, you also need a couple more records. To avoid repeating the IP address everywhere, we’ll use CNAME records, which are just like aliases of the main domain:

# Domain            TTL  Class  Type   Target  300  IN     CNAME   300  IN     CNAME

These subdomains provide group chat functionality and file-sharing respectively.

If you’re setting up Snikket at home, or behind a router or firewall, now is a good time to check that you have all the required ports open or forwarded. If you’re using a VPS and there is no firewall, you’re fine… onto the next step!

Step 2: Docker

Docker is a handy tool for running self-contained services known as “containers”. We use Docker to provide Snikket in a clean way that works reliably across all different systems.

If you have the docker and docker compose commands already available on your system, great! You can skip to Step 3 below. If not, continue reading.


Getting docker up and running can vary depending on what OS you’re running. Luckily Docker provides an installation guide for a range of operating systems. Follow the guide for your system:

Compatibility note

Snikket is not compatible with the following host systems:

  • Debian 10 (or Raspbian 10) “buster” running on Raspberry Pi or other ARM devices (upgrade your OS)
  • Systems running Docker versions older than 20.10.10 (upgrade Docker using the guides linked above)

For more information, review the host compatibility section of our documentation.

Step 3: Prepare for Snikket!

This is exciting, we’re so close!

Create a configuration directory and switch to it:

mkdir /etc/snikket
cd /etc/snikket

And then download our docker-compose.yml file:

curl -o docker-compose.yml

Now create another file called snikket.conf in the same directory, using a text editor (such as nano, or vim).

This file is where your configuration goes. There are just a couple of options you need:

# The primary domain of your Snikket instance

# An email address where the admin can be contacted
# (also used to register your Let's Encrypt account to obtain certificates)

Change the values to match your setup, save the file, and exit.

Step 4: Launch

Here we go! Run:

docker compose up -d

The first time you run this command docker will download Snikket. In a moment it should complete, and Snikket should be running and accessible via the web (e.g. As soon as it has created certificates, it will redirect to HTTPS and show you a login page.

Note: If this command returns an error like "compose" is not a docker command, don’t panic! You just need to install the docker compose plugin and try again.

Now Snikket is running, it’s time to set up your first account. To create yourself an admin account, run the following command:

docker exec snikket create-invite --admin --group default

Follow the link to open the invitation, and follow the instructions get signed in.

Once you’ve created your admin account, you can log in to the web dashboard by visiting in your browser (obviously put your own domain in there!).

From there you can create more invitation links to share with your family, friends and anyone else you want to join your Snikket instance. It won’t be empty for long!

That’s it! How did it go? Let us know at Also if you want to support the project, consider a small donation to help keep us working on it!