Etherpad is an excellent Open Source web application for collaborative text editing. Like Google Docs, it allows you to share documents with others through a secret URL or to set up private documents for which people need a login.

It's a little tricky to install so here's how I did it.

Build a Debian package

Because the official repository is not kept up to date, you must build the package yourself:

  1. Grab the master branch from the official git repository:

    git clone git:// etherpad
  2. Build the package:

    dpkg-buildpackage -us -uc

Now, install some of its dependencies:

apt-get install --no-install-recommends dbconfig-common python-uno mysql-server

before installing the .deb you built:

dpkg -i etherpad_1.1.deb  
apt-get install --no-install-recommends -f

Application configuration

You will likely need to change a few minor things in the default configuration at /etc/etherpad/

useHttpsUrls = true  
customBrandingName = ExamplePad  
customEmailAddress =  
topdomains =,your.external.ip.address,,localhost,localhost.localdomain

Nginx configuration

If you use Nginx as your web server of choice, create a vhost file in /etc/nginx/sites-available/etherpad:

server {  
  listen 443;  
  server_name *;  
  add_header Strict-Transport-Security max-age=15768000;  

  ssl on;  
  ssl_certificate  /etc/ssl/certs/;  
  ssl_certificate_key  /etc/ssl/certs/;  

  ssl_session_timeout  5m;  
  ssl_session_cache shared:SSL:1m;  

  ssl_protocols  TLSv1;  
  ssl_ciphers  RC4-SHA:HIGH:!kEDH;  
  ssl_prefer_server_ciphers   on;  

  access_log /var/log/nginx/etherpad.access.log;  
  error_log /var/log/nginx/etherpad.error.log;  

  location / {  
    proxy_pass http://localhost:9000/;  
    proxy_set_header Host $host;  

and then enable it and restart Nginx:

/etc/init.d/nginx restart

Apache configuration

If you prefer to use Apache instead, make sure that the required modules are enabled:

a2enmod proxy  
a2enmod proxy_http

and then create a vhost file in /etc/apache2/sites-available/etherpad:

<VirtualHost *:443>  
   ServerAlias *  

   SSLEngine on  
   SSLCertificateFile /etc/apache2/ssl/  
   SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/apache2/ssl/  
   SSLCertificateChainFile /etc/apache2/ssl/  

   SSLProtocol TLSv1  
   SSLHonorCipherOrder On  
   SSLCipherSuite RC4-SHA:HIGH:!kEDH  
   Header add Strict-Transport-Security: "max-age=15768000"  

       Order deny,allow  
       Allow from all  

   Alias /sitemap.xml /ep/tag/\?format=sitemap  
   Alias /static /usr/share/etherpad/etherpad/src/static  

   ProxyPreserveHost On  
   SetEnv proxy-sendchunked 1  
   ProxyRequests Off  
   ProxyPass / http://localhost:9000/  
   ProxyPassReverse / http://localhost:9000/  

before enabling that new vhost and restarting Apache:

a2ensite etherpad  
apache2ctl configtest  
apache2ctl graceful

DNS setup

The final step is to create these two DNS entries to point to your web server:

  • *

Also, as a precaution against an OpenOffice/LibreOffice-related bug, I suggest that you add the following entry to your web server's /etc/hosts file to avoid flooding your DNS resolver with bogus queries: localhost.(none) localhost.(none)

where is the search base defined in /etc/resolv.conf.

Other useful instructions

Here are the most useful pages I used while setting this up: