We’ve tried to make installing and running Takahē as easy as possible, but an ActivityPub server does have a minimum level of complexity, so you should be experienced deploying software in order to run it.

Note that getting the technology running is arguably the easiest piece of running a server - you must also be prepared to support your users, moderate, defederate, keep on top of security risks, and know how you will handle illegal content.


  • SSL support (Takahē requires HTTPS)

  • Something that can run Docker/OCI images

  • A PostgreSQL 14 (or above) database

  • Hosting/reverse proxy that passes the HOST header down to Takahē

  • One of these to store uploaded images and media:

    • Amazon S3

    • Google Cloud Storage

    • Writable local directory (must be accessible by all running copies!)

Note that ActivityPub is a chatty protocol that has a lot of background activity, so you will need to run background tasks, in order to fetch profiles, retry delivery of posts, and more - see “Preparation”, below.

The flagship Takahē instance,, runs inside of Kubernetes, with one Deployment for the webserver and one for the Stator runner.

All configuration is done via either environment variables, or online through the web interface.


You’ll need to run two copies of our Docker image:

  • One with no extra arguments (command), which will serve web traffic

  • One with the arguments python3 runstator, which will run the background worker

These containers will need the ability to write at least 1GB of files out to their scratch disks. See the TAKAHE_NGINX_CACHE_SIZE environment variable for more.


If you cannot run a background worker for some reason, you can instead call the URL /.stator/?token=abc periodically (once a minute or more). The token value must be the same as you set in the TAKAHE_STATOR_TOKEN environment variable. This pattern is only suitable for very small installs.

While it is possible to install and run Takahē directly from a directory, rather than the Docker image, we don’t provide support for that method due to the difficulty of getting libraries to all match. Takahē is a standard Django project, so if you know what you’re doing, go for it - but we won’t be able to give you support.

If you are running on Kubernetes, we recommend that you make one Deployment for the webserver and one Deployment for the background worker. We also recommend that you mount an emptyDir to the /cache/ path on the webserver containers, as this is where the media cache will be stored.

Environment Variables#

All of these variables are required for a working installation, and should be provided to the containers from the first boot.

  • TAKAHE_DATABASE_SERVER should be a database DSN for your database (you can use the standard PGHOST, PGUSER, etc. variables instead if you want)

  • TAKAHE_SECRET_KEY must be a fixed, random value (it’s used for internal cryptography). Don’t change this unless you want to invalidate all sessions.


    You must keep the value of TAKAHE_SECRET_KEY unique and secret. Anyone with this value can modify their session to impersonate any user, including admins. It should be kept even more secure than your admin passwords, and should be long, random and completely unguessable. We recommend that it is at least 64 characters.

  • TAKAHE_MEDIA_BACKEND must be a URI starting with local://, s3:// or gcs://. See Media Configuration below for more.

  • TAKAHE_MAIN_DOMAIN should be the domain name (without https://) that will be used for default links (such as in emails). It does not need to be the same as any domain you are hosting user accounts on.

  • TAKAHE_EMAIL_SERVER should be set to an smtp:// or sendgrid:// URI. See Email Configuration below for more.

  • TAKAHE_EMAIL_FROM is the email address that emails from the system will appear to come from.

  • TAKAHE_AUTO_ADMIN_EMAIL should be an email address that you would like to be automatically promoted to administrator when it signs up. You only need this for initial setup, and can unset it after that if you like.

  • If you don’t want to run Stator as a background process but as a view, set TAKAHE_STATOR_TOKEN to a random string that you are using to protect it; you’ll use this when setting up the URL to be called.

  • If your installation is behind a HTTPS endpoint that is proxying it, set TAKAHE_USE_PROXY_HEADERS to true. (The HTTPS proxy header must be called X-Forwarded-Proto).

  • If you want to receive emails about internal site errors, set TAKAHE_ERROR_EMAILS to a valid JSON list of emails, such as [""] (if you’re doing this via shell, be careful about escaping!)

  • If you want to support push notifications, set TAKAHE_VAPID_PUBLIC_KEY and TAKAHE_VAPID_PRIVATE_KEY to a valid VAPID keypair (note that if you ever change these, push notifications will stop working). You can generate a keypair at

There are some other, optional variables you can tweak once the system is up and working - see Tuning for more.

If you are behind a caching proxy, such as Cloudflare, you may need to update your CSRF host settings to match. Takahē validates that requests have an Origin header that matches their Referer header by default, and these services can break that relationship.

Takahē lets you set this up via the TAKAHE_CSRF_HOSTS environment variable, which takes a Python-list-formatted list of additional protocols/domains to allow, with wildcards. It feeds directly into Django’s CSRF_TRUSTED_ORIGINS setting, so for more information about how to use it, see the Django documentation - generally, you’d want to set it to your website’s public address, so for our server it would have been TAKAHE_CSRF_HOSTS='[""]'.

Media Configuration#

Takahē needs somewhere to store uploaded post attachments, profile images and more (“media”). We support Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage and a local directory, but we recommend against the local directory unless you know what you’re doing - media must be accessible from every running container in a read-write mode, and this is hard to do with a directory as you scale.

Support for CDN configuration for media is coming soon.

Amazon S3#

To use S3, provide a URL in one of these forms:

  • s3:///bucket-name

  • s3://endpoint-url/bucket-name

  • s3://access-key:secret-key@endpoint-url/bucket-name

If you omit the keys or the endpoint URL, then Takahē will try to use implicit authentication for them. The keys, if included, should be urlencoded, as AWS secret keys commonly contain eg + characters.

With the above examples, Takahē connects to an S3 bucket using HTTPS. If you wish to connect to an S3 bucket using HTTP (for example, to connect to an S3 API endpoint on a private network), replace s3 in the examples above with s3-insecure.

Your S3 bucket must be set to allow publically-readable files, as Takahē will set all files it uploads to be public-read. We randomise uploaded file names to prevent enumeration attacks.

Google Cloud Storage#

To use GCS, provide a URL like:

  • gs:///bucket-name

The GCS backend currently only supports implicit authentication (from the standard Google authentication environment variables, or machine roles).

Your bucket must be set to world-readable and have individual object permissions disabled.

Local Directory#

To use a local directory, specify the media URL as local://.

You must then also specify:

  • TAKAHE_MEDIA_ROOT, the file path to the local media Directory

  • TAKAHE_MEDIA_URL, a fully-qualified URL prefix that serves that directory (must end in a slash)

The media directory must be read-write accessible from every single container of Takahē - webserver and workers alike.

Email Configuration#

Takahē requires an email server in order to send password reset and other account emails. We support either explicit SMTP, or auto-configuration of SMTP for SendGrid.


Provide a URL in the form smtp://username:password@host:port/

If you are using TLS, add ?tls=true to the end. If you are using SSL, add ?ssl=true to the end.

If your username and password have URL-unsafe characters in them, you can URLencode them. For example, if I had to use the username with the password my:password, it would be represented as:


The username and password can be omitted, with a URL in the form smtp://host:port/, if your mail server is a (properly firewalled!) unauthenticated relay.


If you are using SendGrid, Takahē will auto-configure the SMTP settings for you. Simply set the email server to sendgrid://api-key.


Takahē requires a PostgreSQL database at version 14 or above in order to work properly. You should create a database within your PostgreSQL server, with its own username and password, and provide Takahē with those credentials via TAKAHE_DATABASE_SERVER (see above). It will make its own tables and indexes.

You will have to run python3 migrate when you first install Takahē in order to create the database tables; how you do this is up to you. We recommend one of:

  • Shell/Exec into a running container (such as the webserver) and run it there.

  • Launch a separate container as a one-off with python3 migrate as its arguments/command. If you are using Kubernetes, you should use a Job (or a one-off Pod) for this rather than a Deployment

You will also have to run this for minor version releases when new migrations are present; the release notes for each release will tell you if one is.

Making An Admin Account#

Once the webserver is up and working, go to the “create account” flow and create a new account using the email you specified in TAKAHE_AUTO_ADMIN_EMAIL.

Once you set your password using the link emailed to you, you will have an admin account.

If your email settings have a problem and you don’t get the email, don’t worry; fix them and then follow the “reset my password” flow on the login screen, and you’ll get another password reset email that you can use.

If you have shell access to the Docker image and would rather use that, you can run python3 createsuperuser instead and follow the prompts.

Adding A Domain#

When you login you’ll be greeted with the “make an identity” screen, but you won’t be able to as you will have no domains yet.

You should select the “Domains” link in the sidebar and create one, and then you will be able to make your first identity.

Tuning and Scaling#

See Tuning for all the things you should tweak as your server gains users. We recommend setting up caches early on!