How to Install Etherpad Lite on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

Learn the steps to install and use Etherpad on Ubuntu 20.04 focal fossa /18.04 Bionic Beaver LTS/ Debian Linux distros for a free and open-source collaborative text editor.

EtherPad is a real-time collaborative web-based text editor in which several people can conveniently work together online on a document. It is an open-source web application, hence doesn’t need to pay anything. The application is scalable to thousands of simultaneous real-time users. It provides full data export capabilities, and runs on your server, under your control.

You can think about having your own Google Docs-like service but with plugins, support to extend the application capabilities. You can simply invite new users with the integrated share function or send them the link to the document via email.

Avoid annoying compatibility problems with the free EtherPad web app. In contrast to Google’s service Google Docs, for example, you do not need an account with the manufacturer to use the web app. Registration is no longer necessary, which makes working together even easier.

An Etherpad is created on the Internet by specifying a title on the corresponding page, the generated link is used to access the pad, including the editing function. The nice thing about working on an Etherpad is that the participants can be assigned a color so that you can see who wrote what. You also have a kind of ‘control function’ for the development of the pad through the clock symbol. Once clicked, all changes to the pad can be viewed in time-lapse. The editors of the document can communicate with one another via an integrated chat function.

 Key Features:

  • Rich Editing
  • Minimalist editor
  • Dark Mode
  • Image support within a pad using a plugin.
  • Video Chat
  • Collaboration++
  • Document Analysis –
  • Scaleable  – Scale to ∞ several Active Pads with up to ~20,000 edits per second, per pad.


Steps to install to Etherpad Lite on Ubuntu 20.04 or 18.04 LTS

1. Perform system update & add Git

If you haven’t updated your system yet, then run it once to refresh the system repository cache and update the installed packages.

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

Also, Install Git

sudo apt install git -y


2. Install NodeJs on Ubuntu 20.04 or 18.04

Along with git, to install Etherpad we also need to have Nodejs on our Ubuntu system. Hence to install the latest version of Nodejs run the below-given commands:

Add Nodejs repository

curl -fsSL | sudo -E bash -


After adding the repository, let’s install its packages

sudo apt install -y nodejs


3. Install MariaDB server

By default, the Etherpad will save the data in a plain-text file, so to improve the security let use the MariaDB database server,

sudo apt install mariadb-server -y


Create Database:

sudo mysql
create database etherpad_db;
grant all privileges on etherpad_db.* to h2suser@localhost identified by 'password';

flush privileges;

Note: Change the database name, user, and password in the above command that you want to set.


4. Add a dedicated user

For safety just create a non-sudo user.

adduser ether

Now, switch to your newly created user:

su ether


5. Clone Etherpad files using Git

Download the required files we need to run the Etherpad on our Ubuntu server. And for that just use the git that will directly clone the file on your system.

git clone --branch master


6. Install Etherpad Lite in Ubuntu 20.04 or Debian

Once the cloning of files is completed switch to the directory and run the installation script under standard user, not root.

cd etherpad-lite
export NODE_ENV=production

Install Etherpad on Ubuntu 20.04

Once you get the below-like screenshot, stop the server by pressing Ctrl+C.

Stop Etherpad Server


7. Set Database, username, a password for Etherpad

As we have created a dedicated MySQL database, thus we will use that one and also change the default admin password for the Etherpad instance.

Edit the settings.json

nano etherpad-lite/settings.json

Find the line and add /* & */ symbols to comment the lines out as shown in the screenshot


"dbType" : "dirty",
"dbSettings" : {
"filename" : "var/dirty.db"

Comment default Database


Also, remove the symbol /* and the symbol */ given at the beginning and end of the MYSQL lines.

Disable default plain DB of ether Lite


After that add the Database values such as user, database name, and password you have created in the MariaDB section.

Add Database values for Etherpad

Also, find and set the trustProxy value to true, if a reverse proxy is performing as SSL, otherwise leave it to default.

 "trustProxy": true,

Set Trust proxy

Find and Enable Authentication by changing "requireAuthentication": false, the value from false to true.

Enable Authentication

Next, find the user section, remove the /* and */ symbols and then change the password of the admin user.

  Change Admin Password Etherpad


Save the file by pressing Ctrl+O, hit the Enter key, and then Ctrl+X to exit.

Install dependencies:


Exit the etherpad user



8. Create Service file to run Etherpad in background

Create a service file

sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/etherpad.service

Add the following lines:

Description=Etherpad-lite, the collaborative editor.


ExecStart=/usr/bin/node /etherpad-lite/src/node/server.js



Save the file by press Ctrl+O, hit the Enter key, and the exit – CTRL+X.


Reload daemon:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload

Start and enable Etherpad service

sudo systemctl start etherpad
sudo systemctl enable etherpad

Check the status of the service to confirm

systemctl status etherpad


9. Access web interface

By default, the Etherpad Lite will run on the 9001 port number, hence open your browser and type your server address with port 9001.

Don’t forget to allow the port in the firewall

sudo ufw allow 9001


Etherpad Lite installation on Ubuntu 20.04 Server Etherpad lite interface


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