Cloud hosting

The goal of this guide is to have clear and easy to follow best practices for deploying an Urbit node to a server you control in the cloud. Deploying in the cloud allows you to access your Urbit from any device.

Most Urbit users start out running their ship locally on one machine in order to play with it, but this means when your machine is offline your Urbit node is offline too (and can't get updates). You can also only access your Urbit from that one machine.

This guide uses Digital Ocean as the cloud provider, but others can be used. If using another provider, the setup script provided and other server configuration instructions may need to be modified or done manually.

1. Create a Droplet

Create an account on Digital Ocean. Once you make an account, choose "Deploy a virtual machine".

You should see the page below where you can create your Droplet, aka Virtual Machine:

do screenshot

Fill out the options like so:


Ubuntu 22.04 x64


  • Shared CPU: Basic
  • CPU options: Regular with SSD
  • 2GB / 1 CPU ($12/mo)

You can choose a more powerful option if you'd like but the $12 option should be sufficient. Note Urbit needs 2GB of memory; it's possible to choose a cheaper option and run it with less memory by using swap but it will impact performance.

Add block storage

The $12 plan includes 50GB which should be sufficient for quite some time, so you can skip this.

Datacenter region

Choose the region closest to you.

VPC Network

Leave this as default.


In the "Authentication" field, select "SSH keys" and hit "New SSH Key". Run the following command in the terminal on your local machine, replacing riclen-tinlyr with the name of your ship (sans the leading ~):

SHIP="riclen-tinlyr" bash -c 'ssh-keygen -q -N "" -C $SHIP -f ~/.ssh/$SHIP && cat ~/.ssh/$'

It should spit out a long string of letters and numbers beginning with ssh-rsa and ending with your ship name. Copy the whole thing and paste it into the "SSH key content" field on Digital Ocean. In the "Name" field, enter your ship name.

Additional options

Click "+Advanced Options" check the box for "Add Initialization scripts (free)" and paste the script below into the field provided. This will automatically configure the server and install necessary software.

# configure swap
fallocate -l 2G /swapfile
chmod 600 /swapfile
mkswap /swapfile
swapon /swapfile
echo "/swapfile swap swap defaults 0 0" >> /etc/fstab
# setup firewall
ufw allow OpenSSH
ufw allow www
ufw allow https
ufw allow 34543/udp
ufw enable
# create and configure user
useradd -s /bin/bash -d /home/urbit -m -G sudo urbit
passwd -d urbit
echo "urbit ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL" >> /etc/sudoers
# configure ssh keys for user
mkdir -p /home/urbit/.ssh
chmod 700 /home/urbit/.ssh
cp /root/.ssh/authorized_keys /home/urbit/.ssh/authorized_keys
chmod 600 /home/urbit/.ssh/authorized_keys
chown -R urbit:urbit /home/urbit/.ssh
# configure sshd
mkdir -p /etc/ssh/sshd_config.d
cat > /etc/ssh/sshd_config.d/override.conf <<EOF
PermitRootLogin no
PubkeyAuthentication yes
PasswordAuthentication no
# fetch and extract urbit binary
curl -L | tar xzk --transform='s/.*/urbit/g' -C /home/urbit/
chown urbit:urbit /home/urbit/urbit
# install tmux
apt -y update
apt install -y tmux
# reboot
systemctl reboot

How many Droplets?


Choose a hostname

This will be the name the server calls itself locally, you can put in whatever you want. Your planet name is a good choice.

Add tags

Leave empty.

Select project

Leave as the default.

Create Droplet

Hit this button to create the droplet.

2. Prepare for upload


This step is necessary if you already have a ship running locally and want to move it to the cloud. If you don't, you can skip this step.

In the Dojo, use either "CTRL + D" or |exit to shut down your ship.

Archive your pier by running tar cvzf riclen-tinlyr.tar.gz ~/path/to/your/pier (substitute your own ship name and pier location).

3. Connect to the server

To make connecting simple, you can add an alias to ~/.ssh/config on your local machine. Open ~/.ssh/config in an editor (you may need to create it if the file doesn't exist), and add the following to the bottom of the file (replacing the ship name with your own and the IP address with that of your droplet):

Host riclen-tinlyr
User urbit
IdentityFile ~/.ssh/riclen-tinlyr
IdentitiesOnly yes
  • If you have an existing pier
  • If you have a key file

Copy the archived pier to the server with the following (substituting your ship name and Host):

scp riclen-tinlyr.tar.gz riclen-tinlyr:

It may take a while to upload if your pier is large and/or your internet is slow.

Once you've either uploaded your pier or uploaded your key file as the case may be, you can connect to your server:

ssh riclen-tinlyr

You'll be taken to the shell on your server.

5. Boot your ship

  • If you have an existing pier
  • If you have a key file

In the previous section you ssh'd into the server. In the same ssh session, extract the pier archive you previously uploaded, then delete the archive:

tar xvzf riclen-tinlyr.tar.gz && rm riclen-tinlyr.tar.gz

You'll now have a folder called riclen-tinlyr, which is your pier. Urbit is best run in a tmux or screen session so it's easy to keep it running when you disconnect. In this case we'll use tmux, which has already been installed by the setup script.

Run tmux:


You should now be in tmux. First, dock your ship:

./urbit dock riclen-tinlyr

That will copy the urbit runtime inside the pier, so you can now delete the separate binary:

rm urbit

Run the following to allow the runtime to bind ports 80 and 443:

sudo setcap 'cap_net_bind_service=+ep' riclen-tinlyr/.run

Now you can start your ship up with the following:

./riclen-tinlyr/.run -p 34543

After a few moments it'll show the Dojo prompt like ~riclen-tinlyr:dojo>.

6. Get a domain

To make accessing the web interface convenient, you should request an domain name. To do so, run the following command in the Dojo, replacing the IP address with your droplet's:

-dns-address [%if .]

This will request a subdomain of your ship like

The domain should be registered almost instantly, but sometimes it takes a while for it to propagate to other DNS servers. You might therefore see the following:

> -dns-address [%if .]
dns: request for DNS sent to ~deg
dns: awaiting response from ~deg
http: fail (13, 504): unknown node or service
http: fail (14, 504): unknown node or service
http: fail (15, 504): unknown node or service
http: fail (16, 504): unknown node or service
http: fail (17, 504): unknown node or service
dns: unable to access via
XX confirm port 80
XX check via nslookup

If that happens, wait five or ten minutes and then try again. You should eventually see:

> -dns-address [%if .]
dns: request for DNS sent to ~deg
dns: awaiting response from ~deg
[%key iter=0 width=2.047]
[%key iter=1 width=2.047]
[%key iter=2 width=2.047]
[%key iter=3 width=2.047]
acme: requesting an https certificate for
dns: confirmed access via
acme: received https certificate for
http: restarting servers to apply configuration
http: web interface live on https://localhost:443
http: web interface live on http://localhost:80
http: loopback live on http://localhost:12321

That means the domain has been registered and an SSL certificate has been installed, so you can access the web interface securely with HTTPS.

7. Log in to Landscape

In order to login to the web interface, you need to get the web login code. Run the following in the Dojo:


It'll spit out something like ropnys-batwyd-nossyt-mapwet. That's your web login code, you can copy that and save it in a password manager or similar. Note that the web login code is separate from the master ticket.

The server configuration should now be complete, and you can access Landscape in the browser. Navigate to the domain you configured previously, in this case You should see the Landscape login screen:

landscape login screen

Enter the web login code and you'll be taken to your ship's homescreen. Your ship is now running in the cloud, and you can access it from any device by visiting its URL.

8. Disconnect

You can now disconnect from the tmux session by hitting CTRL+b d (that is, you hit CTRL+b, release it, and then hit d). You'll be taken back to the ordinary shell, but the ship will still be running in the background. If you want to get back to the Dojo again, you can reattach the tmux session with:

tmux a

Finally, you can disconnect from the ssh session completely by hitting CTRL+d.

9. Cleanup

If you booted a new ship by uploading a key file, it's a good idea to now delete the key file on your local machine.

If you uploaded an existing pier, you should delete the old copy of both the pier directory and the .tar.gz archive on your local machine. You might be tempted to keep one of these as a backup, but note that you must never again boot the old copy on the live network. Doing so will create unfixable networking problems and require you to perform a factory reset through Bridge, wiping your ship's data. We therefore don't recommend you keep duplicates of your pier lying around.

Next steps