How to install Urbit on a $5/month Linode VPS


This guide assumes you have purchased or acquired an urbit planet or star and you would like to set it up on a cloud VPS so it is always on.

If you want to install on desktop (Windows, MacOS, or Linux), I recommend using the newly released port application.

Step 1: Create a Linode VPS

Visit Linode and sign up for an account.


  • OS: Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
  • Region: Nearest to you
  • Plan: Nanode 1GB
  • Label: *your planet name*

Step 2: Generate your key file on Bridge

There are a few ways to acquire a planet. All methods, however, should result in you receiving at least one secret, such as a master ticket. If you received an email invite to Urbit, the master ticket should be a .pdf file in the passport folder inside the archive that you downloaded. If you bought your planet on an exchange or someone sent it to you you do not have a master ticket.

  1. Connect to Bridge.
  2. Enter the name of your planet and the associated master ticket in the appropriate fields if you have a master ticket. Click the "Metamask, Mnemonic, Hardware Wallet..." button if you do not have a master ticket and want to use a plain ethereum address, metamask, or a trezor/ledger.
  3. Once you're logged in, click the "OS" option.
  4. In resulting page, click the "Download Arvo Keyfile" button. If this is grayed out, click on "Reset Networking Keys", then click on "Reset Networking Keys" on the following page, validate the transaction using your wallet, and then click Send Trasaction (This will use gas). Note, you can chose to "breach continuity" or not, it doesn't matter.
  5. You should now be able to "Download Arvo Keyfile" and receive a .key file that contains the secret needed to boot your ship.

Step 3: Upload your keyfile to your new VPS

  1. Go to the Network tab in Linode and get the IP address of your VPS
  2. Use an FTP utility to upload the keyfile (ends in .key) to your new VPS I recommend FileZilla. You will need to eventually place the key file in the same directory as your urbit executable that you will download in step 5. For now put it wherever.

Step 4: Connect to your VPS

You need to get command line access to your VPS. If you run Linux just use:

ssh [email protected]_ip_address

I am on Windows and I use a small utility called Putty.

Step 5: Configure the VPS

sudo apt-get update
wget --content-disposition
tar zxvf ./linux64.tgz --strip=1
rm linux64.tgz
chown -R root:root urbit

Everything that follows creates a 2GB swap file for the $5/month Linode VPS. If you have 2G of available memory, this is unneccesary.

  sudo fallocate -l 2G /swapfile
  sudo chmod 600 /swapfile
  sudo mkswap /swapfile
  sudo swapon /swapfile
  sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.bak
  echo '/swapfile none swap sw 0 0' | sudo tee -a /etc/fstab

Step 6: Boot your Urbit

Copy the keyfile into the directory where the urbit executable is and run this command. Do not include the tilde (~) on your planet name.

./urbit -w planetname -k ./keyfile.key

You can also open the .key file and copy the key from it and type it into the boot command directly, like this:

./urbit -w planetname -G 0w2~Wsd.isle8.YFYUg.PHjqh.SyuLd.POEsn.j3T7s.ls8g2.Adifl.Tis2s.lse9g.asd45.JO-jL$

It will take a while to boot (10 minutes)? After it boots you will get a dojo prompt, and then you will probably see a bunch of "behn" which means your planet is downloading updates. It could take a day or two to download all of the updates.

Test it by typing (dopzod is another star)

|hi ~dopzod
hi ~dopzod successful; 
~dopzod is your neighbor

And by the way, grab your passcode so you can log into the web interface of your Urbit.


Step 7: Shut down your Urbit


Step 8 Restart your Urbit within a screen

A screen will allow you to keep your urbit running if you exit your shell (putty) session.

screen -S name_of_the_screen

Name it whatever you want. Now restart your Urbit. Restarting an Urbit uses an abbreviated command:

./urbit planetname

Again, leave off the tilde (~). Now you can close the screen (Urbit will continue running)

ctrl-a d

When you want to open the screen again, just use:

screen -r

Step 9: Save and/or delete your keyfile

Once your Urbit has been started the first time, you don't need your keyfile anymore, unless for some reason you need to reinstall using new binaries. You can either save it in a safe place or delete it. If you need it again it can always be re-downloaded from Bridge.

Optional - Set up HTTPS

(Official guide here: To set up SSL, you need to add an A record at your DNS provider that points to where your urbit is. So if your urbit is at, then you'll need to add an A record that points to this. After you do this at your DNS provider, typing "" will send you to Use to see if your new DNS is pointing to the right place.

After that, make sure you have ports 80 and 443 open where your urbit is. On ubuntu it is:

ufw allow 80
ufw allow 443

Then you need to go to your dojo prompt and request a certificate. It will use LetsEncrypt, and it will first make sure that it can access your urbit on port 80 ( if it cannot, it will fail). Change /tld/domain/subdomain into whatever your domain is, so would be /com/example, would be /com/example/subdomain.

:acme &path /tld/domain/subdomain

If you are successful, you will get the following response:

acme: requesting an https certificate for
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

Optional: Join some groups

When you first boot up your urbit, you'll be connected with nothing. Here are some suggestions of groups you might join to get a feel for things:

  • ~bitbet-bolbel/urbit-community
  • ~bollug-worlus/urbit-index
  • ~tirrel/the-marketplace
  • ~wolref-podlex/foundation
  • ~rondev/group-discovery

Optional Troubleshooting step

When you start your Urbit, sometimes it takes a while to download all of the network updates. However, if you find that things aren't really working after waiting a while it MAY be that your sponsoring star or galaxy isn't passing you updates. Try typing this at the dojo prompt, which will tell your urbit to get updates from an authoritative star (Only do this if you are not getting updates).

For planets:

|ota (snag (~(rad og eny) 5) `(list @p)`~[~wanzod ~marzod ~binzod ~litzod ~samzod]) %kids

For stars:

|ota ~zod %kids

Also, if your ship seems slow or like it's not communicating, your urbit might be slow because your ames port is firewalled or behind a router/NAT. The next release of urbit-king will have automatic NATPMP port forwarding, but right now you need to do it manually. Start your urbit with the -p flag to specify the UDP port ames will bind to (eg urbit -p 32123 name-of-comet) then forward that UDP port to your device or open it in your firewall.

./urbit -p 32123 planet_name

About the author

Jeremy Tunnell
I study Integral Theory and Zen Buddhism at Integral Zen.


Get in touch

You can reach Jeremy at [email protected]