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Project management would struggle mightily without effective and constant communication. It doesn’t matter that you’ve employed the perfect project management platform — maybe Jira, Trello or Asana — because without effective communication, those projects will stall out and fail.

SEE: Hiring kit: Project manager (TechRepublic Premium)

To that end, you should employ some form of communication for your teams. One such option is Discourse, which can be used to create effective communication for communities, teams and users. Discourse can be used for things like feature requests, team communication, discussion and connection. It’s highly customizable, includes powerful moderation tools, gives you full ownership of your data and doesn’t lock you in. By hosting it on-premises your data is safe.

I’m going to walk you through the process of deploying this powerful server with the help of Docker.

What you’ll need to successfully deploy Discourse

To successfully deploy Discourse, you’ll need a server that supports Docker, which could be Linux, macOS or Windows, a domain name pointing toward your hosting server, an SMTP server and Docker. As for the SMTP server, you can always use Google’s SMTP servers.

Google’s SMTP servers

On the off-chance you need to use Google’s SMTP servers for your Discourse server, you’ll first want to create an app password for your Google account, and you’ll need to use the following details:

  • Server address:
  • Requires SSL: Yes
  • Requires TLS: yes, if available
  • SSL Port: 465
  • TLS Port: 587

You’ll use your Gmail address as the username and the app password you created as the password.

How to deploy Discourse

Log in to your server that will host Discourse. I will assume you already have Docker installed; if not, you can always refer to my tutorial to get it up and running.

First, create a new directory with the command:

sudo mkdir /var/discourse

Change into that directory and then clone the Discourse project with:

git clone

Change into the newly-created directory with:

cd discourse

Run the setup script with:


You might have to run the script with elevated privileges. For example, on both Linux and macOS, you can run the script with:

sudo ./discourse-setup

On Windows, you’ll need to open the terminal window with admin privileges.

During the installation, you’ll be asked to enter your domain name and the details for your SMTP server. Make sure to answer those questions correctly. If you do happen to make a mistake, you can always re-run the command to correct any issues.

After you’ve answered the questions, the Discourse deployment will be complete. After a moment, you should then be able to access the Discourse website, where you can create an admin account and begin configuring the communication server to perfectly fit your needs.

That’s all there is to adding a powerful communication tool to bolster your project management efforts. By giving your team members the means to easily keep the lines of communication open, they will be able to work more effectively and efficiently.

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