Etherpad Lite

Etherpad Lite is a real-time collaborative writing tool. It is based on Node.js and comes with lots of possible plugins.


For this guide you should be familiar with the basic concepts of


We’re using Node.js in the stable version 12:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ uberspace tools version use node 12
Using 'Node.js' version: '12'
[isabell@stardust ~]$

You’ll need your MySQL credentials. Get them with my_print_defaults:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ my_print_defaults client
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Your URL needs to be set up:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ uberspace web domain list
[isabell@stardust ~]$


First get the Etherpad Lite source code from Github, be sure to replace the version number 1.8.3 here with the latest version number from the release feed:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ git clone --branch 1.8.3 --depth=1 ~/etherpad
Cloning into '/home/isabell/etherpad'...
remote: Enumerating objects: 504, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (504/504), done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (486/486), done.
remote: Total 504 (delta 22), reused 143 (delta 1), pack-reused 0
Receiving objects: 100% (504/504), 3.50 MiB | 7.56 MiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (22/22), done.
Note: checking out '62101147a0c3495dc80daa87ab53a3366321a205'.

You are in 'detached HEAD' state. You can look around, make experimental
changes and commit them, and you can discard any commits you make in this
state without impacting any branches by performing another checkout.

If you want to create a new branch to retain commits you create, you may
do so (now or later) by using -b with the checkout command again. Example:

  git checkout -b <new-branch-name>

[isabell@stardust ~]$

Then run the etherpad script to install the dependencies:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ ~/etherpad/bin/
Copy the settings template to settings.json...
Ensure that all dependencies are up to date...  If this is the first time you have run Etherpad please be patient.
Clearing minified cache...
Ensure custom css/js files are created...
[isabell@stardust ~]$


Set up a database

Run the following code to create the database <username>_etherpad in MySQL:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ mysql -e "CREATE DATABASE ${USER}_etherpad COLLATE utf8mb4_unicode_ci;"
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Change the configuration

You need to set up the MySQL database settings in ~/etherpad/settings.json. Comment this code block by adding /* before and */ after like shown below:

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

Uncomment the block for MySQL below by removing /* and */. Update the configuration data as shown below. Replace <username> with your username (2 times) and <mysql_password> with your password that you looked up in the prerequisites. Update the database name to <username>_etherpad with your username replaced.

 "dbType" : "mysql",
 "dbSettings" : {
   "user":     "<username>",
   "host":     "localhost",
   "port":     3306,
   "password": "<mysql_password>",
   "database": "<username>_etherpad",
   "charset":  "utf8mb4"

Configure the web server


etherpad-lite is running on port 9001. Additionally, the --remove-prefix parameter is needed if you want to run Etherpad Lite under a sub URI like /pad instead of the root URI /.

To make the application accessible from the outside, configure a web backend:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ uberspace web backend set / --http --port <port>
Set backend for / to port <port>; please make sure something is listening!
You can always check the status of your backend using "uberspace web backend list".
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Set up the daemon

Create ~/etc/services.d/etherpad.ini with the following content:

command=node %(ENV_HOME)s/etherpad/node_modules/ep_etherpad-lite/node/server.js

After creating the configuration, tell supervisord to refresh its configuration and start the service:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ supervisorctl reread
SERVICE: available
[isabell@stardust ~]$ supervisorctl update
SERVICE: added process group
[isabell@stardust ~]$ supervisorctl status
SERVICE                            RUNNING   pid 26020, uptime 0:03:14
[isabell@stardust ~]$

If it’s not in state RUNNING, check your configuration.

Best practices


Take a deeper look into the ~/etherpad/settings.json, you still might want to adjust the title or the welcoming text of new created pads. If you want to use plugins, you will also need to set up an admin account there. If you’ve updated the settings, you need to restart etherpad using supervisorctl restart etherpad.

You can also personalize the look of your installation by using your own skin or change an existing one. See Skins in the documentation for further information.



Check the update feed regularly to stay informed about the newest version.

If there is a new version available, you can get the code using git. Replace the pseudo version number 1.8.3 with the latest version number you got from the release feed:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ cd ~/etherpad
[isabell@stardust etherpad]$ git checkout  -- src/package.json
[isabell@stardust etherpad]$ git pull origin 1.8.3
 * tag                 1.8.3      -> FETCH_HEAD
Updating b8b2e4bc..96ac381a
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Update the dependencies.

[isabell@stardust ~]$ ~/etherpad/bin/
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Then you need to restart the service daemon, so the new code is used by the web server:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ supervisorctl restart etherpad
etherpad: stopped
etherpad: started
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Tested with Etherpad Lite 1.8.3 and Uberspace

Written by: ezra <>