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Running NodeBB

The preferred way to start and stop NodeBB is by invoking its executable:

  • ./nodebb start Starts the NodeBB server
  • ./nodebb stop Stops the NodeBB server
  • Alternatively, you may use npm start and npm stop to do the same

However, NodeBB when started via ./nodebb start will not automatically start up again when the system reboots. The methods listed below are alternatives to starting NodeBB via the executable.


The new standard for Ubuntu/CentOS/Debian/OpenSuse is to use systemd to manage their services. The following is a systemd service example you can use, but assumes the following:

  • MongoDB is installed via package manager and is managed by systemd
  • Node.js is installed via package manager and can be invoked via the env executable
  • NodeBB is run under the unprivileged user nodebb
  • You will use the systemd journal to manage NodeBB's logs
After=system.slice mongod.service


ExecStart=/usr/bin/env node loader.js --no-silent


Replace the value of User (currently set to nodebb, above) with the system user you wish to run NodeBB, and the path to NodeBB (/path/to/nodebb) as appropriate. You'll most likely want to set the User to a system user with as few privileges as possible.

Save the file to /etc/systemd/system/nodebb.service.

From here, you can proceed to start and stop NodeBB by doing the following:

$ systemctl start nodebb
$ systemctl stop nodebb

If you would like NodeBB to automatically start up on system boot:

$ systemctl enable mongod
$ systemctl enable nodebb

If you do not wish to use journalctl to view the NodeBB logs, you can switch back to having logs appended to logs/output.log by removing --no-silent from the ExecStart directive.

For more information on configuring systemd, please consult the manpage for the systemd service.


Older versions of Ubuntu may utilise Upstart to manage processes at boot. Upstart also handles restarts of scripts if/when they crash.

You can use Upstart to start/stop/restart your NodeBB.

Note: Prior to NodeBB v0.7.0, Upstart processes would not track the proper pid, meaning there was no way to stop the NodeBB process. NodeBB v0.7.0 includes some changes that allow Upstart to control NodeBB more effectively.

You can utilise this Upstart configuration as a template to manage your NodeBB:

start on startup
stop on runlevel [016]
setuid someuser
setgid someuser
    cd /path/to/nodebb
    node loader.js --no-silent --no-daemon
end script

From there, you can start stop and restart NodeBB as the root user: start nodebb, stop nodebb, restart nodebb, assuming nodebb.conf is the name of the Upstart config file.


  • If a service is reported as started (eg mongod.service), does not mean it has completed its starting process. For more information, one will need to monitor journalctl and see if it has started. When starting a service, wait a minute or 2 (depending on your server's technical specifications)
  • By adding mongod.service, or AnyOther.service in the After= field, means it will try to start when the service is reported as started. It will however NOT check if the service is working (e.g. network.service, it can be started, but it will not check if you are connected to a network). If the service has been enabled (systemctl enable SERVICENAME), then it will keep retrying, until it has started or until dependent services has started, or otherwise stated in the service file.

Supervisor Process

Using the supervisor package, you can have NodeBB restart itself if it crashes:

$ npm install -g supervisor
$ supervisor app

As supervisor by default continues to pipe output to stdout, it is best suited to development builds.

Forever Daemon

Another way to keep NodeBB up is to use the forever package via the command line interface, which can monitor NodeBB and re-launch it if necessary:

$ npm install -g forever
$ forever start app.js

You can forever start and forever stop app.js, although the built-in Reload/Restart tools in the ACP will not work.

Grunt Development

We can utilize grunt to launch NodeBB and re-compile assets when files are changed. Start up speed is increased because we don't compile assets that weren't modified.

Installing Grunt

$ npm install -g grunt-cli

Run grunt to start up NodeBB and watch for code changes.

$ grunt