How to install Let’s Chat on Ubuntu 20.04?

Behind organizations, we have applications that enable them to do their work. And one feature that never goes out of fashion on the internet is chat. So why not have your own chat in your organization? This is precisely what the installation of Let’s Chat on Ubuntu 20.04 offers.

What is Let’s Chat?

According to the project website:

Let’s Chat is a persistent messaging application that runs on Node.js and MongoDB. It’s designed to be easily deployable and fits well with small, intimate teams.

The program is free and open-source, released under the MIT license. This means that we can use it under almost any circumstances without worrying about licensing or high costs.

It is very useful in remote work teams and especially in these difficult times we live in. So Let’s Chat is an effective solution in its field.

Some of the main features of it are:

  • BYOS (bring your own server). So, your server, your rules.
  • Support for LDAP / Kerberos Authentication.
  • XMPP Multi-user chat (MUC)
  • You can create multiple Rooms
  • REST-like API
  • The application is translated for many languages

So, it also provides all the possibilities you can expect from a chat like sending files, creating accounts, mentions, support for desktop notifications.

Install Let’s Chat on Ubuntu 20.04

The installation process of Let’s Chat is not complicated but requires a series of steps to achieve the goal. To do this, we need to install dependencies and programs for it to work properly.

For this post, we will run the commands as the root user on an Ubuntu 20.04 server. In case you don’t have the root user, you can execute the commands by adding the sudo command at startup.

First step: Install dependencies, Node.JS and MongoDB

Once you have connected to the server or opened a terminal session, you have to update your distribution.

apt update
apt upgrade

Next, proceed to install some packages which are dependencies of the application.

apt install curl gnupg2 unzip software-properties-common git build-essential

Next, it’s time to install Node.JS via the official repository for the 10.x series.

So, add it by running

curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_10.x | bash -

Now we can install Node.JS by running

apt install nodejs

You can check the installed version using the command:

node -v

Sample Output:

v10.24.0

Then we need to install MongoDB. To do this we will use the official repository provided by the MongoDB developers.

First, add the GPG key to ensure the integrity of the packages and that the system trusts this new software source

curl -fsSL https://www.mongodb.org/static/pgp/server-4.4.asc | apt-key add -

Now add the repository:

echo "deb [ arch=amd64,arm64 ] https://repo.mongodb.org/apt/ubuntu focal/mongodb-org/4.4 multiverse" | tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mongodb-org-4.4.list

Refresh APT and install MongoDB

apt update
apt install mongodb-org

Next, start MongoDB and have it start up along with the system. This ensures that when the system reboots, MongoDB will also run.

systemctl enable – now mongod

Now check the status of the service to make sure everything is OK.

systemctl status mongod

Sample Output:

● mongod.service - MongoDB Database Server
     Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/mongod.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
     Active: active (running) since Thu 2021-02-25 16:46:10 CET; 1s ago
       Docs: https://docs.mongodb.org/manual
   Main PID: 7916 (mongod)
     Memory: 58.7M
     CGroup: /system.slice/mongod.service
             └─7916 /usr/bin/mongod – config /etc/mongod.conf

Feb 25 16:46:10 atechtown systemd[1]: Started MongoDB Database Server.

Now we can install Let’s Chat.

Second Step: Install and configure Let’s Chat

With everything you need, you can now install Let’s Chat. To do this, clone the repository using the git command

git clone https://github.com/sdelements/lets-chat.git

Sample Output:

Cloning into 'lets-chat'…
 remote: Enumerating objects: 13287, done.
 remote: Total 13287 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 13287
 Receiving objects: 100% (13287/13287), 21.23 MiB | 15.54 MiB/s, done.
 Resolving deltas: 100% (7651/7651), done.

Access the generated folder

cd lets-chat/

And install the application with the help of the npm command

npm install

After the process is finished, copy the default settings file and enable it.

cp settings.yml.sample settings.yml

And start the application with the following command:

npm start

If you get an output screen like the one shown in the image, then all is well.

Start Let's Chat
Start Let’s Chat

Although it is easy to start the application, it is better to handle it as a system service. So, finish running Let’s Chat by pressing the CTRL + C keys.

Then create a new file for the configuration of the service

nano /etc/systemd/system/letschat.service

And add the following configuration

[Unit]
 Description=Let's Chat Server
 Wants=mongodb.service
 After=network.target mongod.service

 [Service]
 Type=simple
 WorkingDirectory=/root/lets-chat
 ExecStart=/usr/bin/npm start
 User=root
 Group=root
 Restart=always
 RestartSec=9

 [Install]
 WantedBy=multi-user.target

Then save the changes and close the editor

Refresh the service configuration by running:

systemctl daemon-reload

Start the service and enable it to start with the system.

systemctl start letschat
systemctl enable letschat

Now check the status to make sure everything is OK.

systemctl status letschat
Let's Chat service running
Let’s Chat service running

So, Let’s Chat is up and running.

Third step: Configuring Ngnix for Let’s chat on Ubuntu 20.04

The Let’s Chat application works under port 5000 which you have to open in the firewall. But we can configure Ngnix to be the reverse proxy for the application to facilitate access to the application.

This is quite simple, first install Nginx

sudo apt install nginx

And create a configuration file for Let’s Chat.

nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/letschat.conf

And add the following content:

server {
  server_name letschat.atechtown.test;
   listen 80;
   access_log /var/log/nginx/lets_chat-access.log;
   error_log /var/log/nginx/lets_chat-error.log;
 
location / {
   proxy_set_header   X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
   proxy_set_header   Host      $host;
   proxy_http_version 1.1;
   proxy_set_header   Upgrade $http_upgrade;
   proxy_set_header   Connection 'upgrade';
   proxy_cache_bypass $http_upgrade;
   proxy_pass         http://127.0.0.1:5000;
 }
 }

Of these values, you have to modify the server_name value to the value of your domain.

When you exit the editor, you need to enable the new configuration:

ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/letschat.conf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

Also, modify an option in the Nginx settings. Open the Nginx configuration file:

nano /etc/nginx/nginx.conf

And under the http section add the following value

server_names_hash_bucket_size 64;

Again, save the changes and close the editor. And now you can restart Nginx.

systemctl restart nginx

Optional: Install Certbot and Let’s Encrypt certificates

If the Let’s Chat instance will be available on the Internet, then it is advisable to be more secure about the data to be transmitted.

So, install security certificates to access the site and this is facilitated by Certbot and Let’s Encrypt.

So, install Certbot and the Nginx plugin.

apt install certbot python3-certbot-nginx

After that create the new certificate for your site with the following command:

certbot – nginx – agree-tos – redirect – hsts – staple-ocsp – email [your-email] -d [your-domain]

Replace the indicated values with your own.

Then restart Ngnix to apply the changes.

systemctl restart nginx

Fourth Step: Access to the Let’s Chat interface

Now we need to open a web browser and access https://your-domain so that we can see the Let’s Chat login screen.

Let's Chat login screen
Let’s Chat login screen

Now you need to create a new account by clicking on the I Need an Account link.

This will take you to a screen where you can register without any problems.

Register a new user on Let's Chat
Register a new user on Let’s Chat

Then go back to the login screen to log in with your credentials and you will be able to access the application.

Let's Chat main screen
Let’s Chat main screen

Conclusion

Open Source applications play a key role in many companies today. One of them is Let’s Chat that allows the deployment of a very complete chat program for small work teams but with many possibilities and with an open source license that allows you to use it without problems.

Did you know Let’s Chat? do you want to install it? what do you think? leave us a comment and share the post.

Thanks for reading.

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