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Poddery - Diaspora, Matrix and XMPP

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Revision as of 15:03, 1 May 2019 by Bady (talk | contribs) (Added Matrix and XMPP configuration)
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We run decentralized and federated Diaspora social netowrk, XMPP and Matrix instant messaging services at Along with Diaspora, Poddery username and password can be used to access XMPP and Matrix services as well. provides Riot client (accessed by a web browser), which can be used to connect to any Matrix server without installing a Riot app/client.



Poddery is hosted at Hetzner with the following specs:

  • Intel Xeon E3-1246V3 Process - 4 Cores, 3.5GHz
  • 4TB HDD
  • 32GB DDR3 RAM

Operating System

  • Debian Buster

User Visible Services



  • Prosody is used as the XMPP server which is modern and lightweight.
  • Currently installed version is 0.11.2 which is available in Debian Buster.
  • All XEPs are enabled which the Conversations app support.



Homepage and other static pages are maintained in FSCI GitLab instance.

Backend Services

Web Server / Reverse Proxy

  • Nginx web server which also acts as front-end (reverse proxy) for Diaspora and Matrix.


  • PostgreSQL for Matrix
  • MySQL for Diaspora

TODO: Consider migrating to PostgreSQL to optimize resources (We can reduce one service and RAM usage).


  • Exim

SSL/TLS certificates

  • Letsencrypt



  • Email: poddery at (alias that reaches Akhilan, Abhijith Balan, Fayad, Balasankar, Julius, Praveen, Prasobh, Sruthi, Shirish, Vamsee and Manukrishnan)
  • The following people have their GPG keys in the access file:
    • ID: 0xCE1F9C674512C22A - Praveen Arimbrathodiyil (piratepin)
    • ID: 0xB77D2E2E23735427 - Balasankar C
    • ID: 0x5D0064186AF037D9 - Manu Krishnan T V
    • ID: 0x51C954405D432381 - Fayad Fami (fayad)
    • ID: 0x863D4DF2ED9C28EF - Abhijith PA
    • ID: 0x6EF48CCD865A1FFC - Syam G Krishnan (sgk)
    • ID: 0xFD49D0BC6FEAECDA - Sagar Ippalpalli
    • ID: 0x92FDAB42A95FF20C - Pirate Bady (piratesin)
    • ID: 0x0B1955F40C691CCE - Kannan
    • ID: 0x32FF6C6F5B7AE248 - Akhil Varkey
    • ID: 0xFBB7061C27CB70C1 - Ranjith Siji
    • ID: 0xEAAFE4A8F39DE34F - Kiran S Kunjumon (hacksk)
  • It's recommended to setup Vim GnuPG Plugin for transparent editing. Those who are new to GPG can follow this guide.

Server Access

Maintained in a private git repo at

Configuration and Maintenance

Disk Partitioning

  • RAID 1 setup on 2x2TB HDDs (sda and sdb).
mdadm --verbose --create /dev/mdX --level=mirror --raid-devices=2 /dev/sdaY /dev/sdbY
  • Separate partitions for swap (md0 - 16GB), boot (md1 - 512MB) and root (md2 - 50GB).
  • LVM on Luks for separate encrypted data partitions for database, static files and logs.
# Setup LUKS (make sure lvm2, udev and cryptsetup packages are installed).
cryptsetup luksFormat /dev/mdX
# Give disk encryption password as specified in the access repo
cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/mdX poddery

# LVM Setup
# Create physical volume named poddery
pvcreate /dev/mapper/poddery
# Create volume group named data
vgcreate data /dev/mapper/poddery
# Create logical volumes named log, db and static
lvcreate -n log /dev/data -L 50G
lvcreate -n db /dev/data -L 500G
# Assign remaining free space for static files
lvcreate -n static /dev/data -l 100%FREE 

# Create directories for mounting the encrypted partitions
mkdir /var/lib/db /var/lib/static /var/log/poddery

# Manually mount encrypted partitions. This is needed on each reboot as Hetzner doesn't provide a web console so that we can't decrypt the partitions during booting.
mount /dev/data/db /var/lib/db
mount /dev/data/static /var/lib/static
mount /dev/data/log /var/log/poddery

Hardening checklist

  • SSH password based login disabled (allow only key based logins)
  • SSH login disabled for root user (use a normal user with sudo)
# Check for the following settings in /etc/ssh/sshd_config:
PermitRootLogin no
PasswordAuthentication no
  • ufw firewall enabled with only the ports that needs to be opened (ufw tutorial):
ufw default deny incoming
ufw default allow outgoing
ufw allow ssh
ufw enable
  • fail2ban configured against brute force attacks:
# Check for the following line /etc/ssh/sshd_config

# Restart SSH and enable fail2ban
sudo systemctl restart ssh
sudo systemctl enable fail2ban
sudo systemctl start fail2ban

# To unban an IP, first check /var/log/fail2ban.log to get the banned IP and then run the following
# Here sshd is the defaut jail name, change it if you are using a different jail
fail2ban-client set sshd unbanip <banned_ip>


  • Diaspora installation and configuration:
apt install diaspora-isntaller

# Move MySQL data to encrypted partition
# Make sure /dev/data/db is mounted to /var/lib/db
systemctl stop mysql
mv /var/lib/mysql /var/lib/db
ln -s /var/lib/db/mysql /var/lib/mysql
systemctl start mysql
  • Modify configuration files at /etc/diaspora and /etc/diaspora.conf as needed (backup of the current configuration files are available in the access repo).
  • Homepage configuration:
# Make sure git and acl packages are installed
# Grant rwx permissions for the ssh user to /usr/share/diaspora/public
sudo setfacl -m "u:<ssh_user>:rwx" /usr/share/diaspora/public

# Clone repo
cd /usr/share/diaspora/public
git clone
cd && mv * .[^.]* .. #Give yes for all files when prompted
cd .. && rmdir
  • Save Poddery repo is maintained as a sub module in repo. See this tutorial for working with git submodules.
# Clone repo
cd /usr/share/diaspora/public/save
git submodule init
git submodule update


  • See the official installation guide of Synapse for installing from source.
  • Nginx is used as reverse proxy to send requests that has /_matrix/* in URL to Synapse on port 8008. This is configured in /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/diaspora.
  • Shamil's Synapse Diaspora Auth script is used to authenticate Synapse with Diaspora database.


For scalability, Poddery running workers. Currently all workers specified in that page, expect `` is running on

A new service matrix-synapse@.service is installed for the workers (Save the synape_worker file somewhere like /usr/local/bin/ or something).

The worker config can be found at /etc/matrix-synapse/workers

Synapse needs to be put under a reverse proxy see /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/matrix. A lot of /_matrix/ urls needs to be overridden too see /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/diaspora

These lines must be added to homeserver.yaml as we are running media_repository, federation_sender, pusher, user_dir workers respectively:

 enable_media_repo: False
 send_federation: False
 start_pushers: False
 update_user_directory: false

These services must be enabled, and added to Requires and Before sections of the original matrix-synapse.service:

matrix-synapse@synchrotron.service matrix-synapse@federation_reader.service matrix-synapse@event_creator.service matrix-synapse@federation_sender.service matrix-synapse@pusher.service matrix-synapse@user_dir.service matrix-synapse@media_repository.service matrix-synapse@frontend_proxy.service matrix-synapse@client_reader.service

Synapse Updation

First check synapse/UPGRADE.rst to see if anything extra needs to be done. Then, just run /root/upgrade-synapse

Riot-web Updation

 # Backup current riot-web folder from riot to riot-backup
 tar -xvf riot-v1.01.tar.gz 
 cp -r riot-v1.0.1/* /var/www/riot/
 rm -rf ./riot-v1.0.1*
 # Transfer the old config.json, home.html, home-status.html from riot-backup to /var/www/riot/
 systemctl reload nginx


# Follow steps 1 to 6 from and then run the following:
mysql -u root -p # Enter password from the access repo
CREATE USER 'prosody'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY '<passwd_in_repo>';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON diaspora_production.* TO 'prosody'@'localhost';
systemctl restart prosody

Set Nginx Conf for BOSH URLS

  • Add the following in nginx configuration file to enable the BOSH URL to make JSXC Working:
upstream chat_cluster {
  server localhost:5280;
location /http-bind {
  proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
  proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
  proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
  proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto https;
  proxy_redirect off;
  proxy_connect_timeout 5;
  proxy_buffering       off;
  proxy_read_timeout    70;
  keepalive_timeout     70;
  send_timeout          70;
  client_max_body_size 4M;
  client_body_buffer_size 128K;
  proxy_pass http://chat_cluster;
  • See here for more details on nginx configuration. Alternatively, apache settings can be found here.


  • Ensure proper permissions are set for /etc/letsencrypt and its contents.
chown -R root:ssl-cert /etc/letsencrypt
chmod g+r -R /etc/letsencrypt
chmod g+x /etc/letsencrypt/{archive,live}
  • Make sure the certificates used by diaspora are symbolic links to letsencrypt default location:
cp -L /etc/letsencrypt/live/ /etc/diaspora/ssl/
cp -L /etc/letsencrypt/live/ /etc/diaspora/ssl/
  • Make sure the certificates used by prosody are symbolic links to letsencrypt default location:
ls -l /etc/prosody/certs/
total 0
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 40 Mar 28 01:16 -> /etc/letsencrypt/live/
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 33 Mar 28 01:16 -> /etc/letsencrypt/live/
  • Cron jobs:
crontab -e
30 2 * * 1 letsencrypt renew  >> /var/log/le-renew.log
32 2 * * 1 /etc/init.d/nginx reload
34 2 * * 1 /etc/init.d/prosody reload
  • Manually updating TLS certificate:
letsencrypt certonly --webroot -w /usr/share/diaspora/public  -d -d -d -d -d -w /usr/share/diaspora/public/save -d -w /var/www/riot -d 


  • See here for the archive of Poddery wiki page before the migration to Hetzner.