Deploying GoToSocial on

Everyone and their dog is getting on ActivityPub. Yes, me too, for now. Mastodon is what everyone is going for, but running an instance is kinda resource intensive and I really don't want to be responsible for yet another service.

Mastodon is not the only implementation of ActivityPub though. GoToSocial is another. So why not try it? Let's deploy it on

We start by creating a new Fly app. We stick to a generated name and put it into Frankfurt.

$ mkdir -p Documents/gotosocial-fly
$ cd Documents/gotosocial-fly
$ fly launch
Creating app in /Users/jer/Documents/gotosocial-fly
Scanning source code
Could not find a Dockerfile, nor detect a runtime or framework from source code. Continuing with a blank app.
? Choose an app name (leave blank to generate one):
automatically selected personal organization: jer
? Choose a region for deployment: Frankfurt, Germany (fra)
Created app young-darkness-8503 in organization personal
Wrote config file fly.toml

GoToSocial is available on Docker. We create a new Dockerfile, use the upstream image, add our configuration file and launch it.

FROM superseriousbusiness/gotosocial:latest

WORKDIR /gotosocial/storage
WORKDIR /gotosocial
ADD config.yaml /gotosocial/

CMD ["--config-path", "/gotosocial/config.yaml"]

The GoToSocial Dockerfile already specifies an entrypoint, so it's enough to specify the additional arguments using CMD.

Last thing missing is the configuration file.

We create a config.yaml based on the example. The full file is in the repository. The important bits are the host, database config and disabling signup. Pretty much everything else is left to the defaults.

host: ""
db-type: "sqlite"
db-address: "/gotosocial/storage/sqlite.db"
accounts-registration-open: false

The host should be the random name fly launch chose earlier or your own domain when you add it to the app.

Now we can deploy the app.

$ fly deploy
==> Verifying app config
--> Verified app config
==> Building image
--> Pushing image done
image size: 65 MB
==> Creating release
--> release v1 created

--> You can detach the terminal anytime without stopping the deployment
==> Monitoring deployment

 1 desired, 1 placed, 1 healthy, 0 unhealthy [health checks: 1 total, 1 passing]
--> v1 deployed successfully

The app was successfully deployed and should be reachable at, where we'll see ... not much:

GoToSocial deployed!

What's missing is a user. We need to create one using the command line tooling. First SSH into the machine:

$ fly ssh console
Connecting to fdaa:0:252b:a7b:67:4911:d8ec:2... complete
/ #

Then we create a new user, confirm it and finally give it admin rights. You can find these steps in the GoToSocial docs as well.

/ # /gotosocial/gotosocial --config-path /gotosocial/config.yaml admin account create --username jer
--email --password 'securePassword1'
/ # /gotosocial/gotosocial --config-path /gotosocial/config.yaml admin account confirm --username jer
/ # /gotosocial/gotosocial --config-path /gotosocial/config.yaml admin account promote --username jer

The profile is now visible at GoToSocial doesn't come with its own web client, but we can use Pinafore, a small and fast web client (it does have an admin interface though). We use the same domain to login, then use the email address and password from the account create command above.

First post from my own GoToSocial instance

That post is also visible on young-darkness-8503 directly:

First post visible on my own instance

What's next?

This is a test deploy. I'm not going to keep it up for forever. At the very least I need a proper domain on it. And then the storage should probably be on a Fly volume so it survives re-deploys. GoToSocial is alpha software. It sure is missing some features (though I really don't know what). It might also have lots of bugs. Decide for yourself if you want to run it!