1. Quickstarts
  2. Zulip

Deploy Zulip

Zulip is an open source real-time chat application like Slack, but with an email-like threading model. The email threading model allows you to catch up on important conversations while ignoring irrelevant ones. Zulip’s features include:

  • Highly configurable notifications.
  • Keyboard shortcuts.
  • Mobile and desktop apps.
  • Integrations with Trac, Nagios, GitHub, and more.
  • Restful API with Python bindings.
  • and more!

Example Zulip screen showing streams and threads

One-Click Deploy

Use the button below to deploy Zulip on Render.

Deploy to Render

It uses the github.com/render-examples/zulip repository to create the following components on Render:

  • Zulip web/application server: contains Nginx, Django, Tornado, and Supervisor.
  • Memcached instance: used to cache database model objects.
  • Redis instance: used for short-term data stores.
  • RabbitMQ instance: used as a queuing system and to communicate between Django and Tornado.
  • PostgreSQL instance: used to store all persistent data.

More details on Zulip’s architecture here.


The 1-click button launches the following components on Render:

ComponentTypeCost per month
Zulip serverStandard$25
Persistent Disks4 of up to 10 GB each< $10 ($0.25 per GB used)
Total$53-$63 per month for unlimited members!

Zulip recommends deploying the main application/webserver with more than 2 GB RAM (ideally 4). The Standard instance type gives you 2 GB of RAM, but we recommend upgrading to the Pro instance type for production use. Zulip has documentation on how resource needs scale with the number of users on the app.

Environment Variables

You only need one environment variable to test your Zulip install:

SETTING_ZULIP_ADMINISTRATORemail address of the Zulip administrator

You will be able to set up your account and use all of Zulip’s features as a single user. Inviting other users to join your realm (Zulip’s term for organization) requires setting up email-related environment variables, which are explained below.


Once the zulip service is deployed and live, navigate to the Shell tab and type in:

su zulip
/home/zulip/deployments/current/manage.py generate_realm_creation_link

Visit the link generated by the command and create your Zulip administrator account with the email you used for SETTING_ZULIP_ADMINISTRATOR.


Zulip requires a mail server to send emails to users. Reliable mail delivery requires more work than just running the mail server, so we strongly recommend using a third-party email provider.

Zulip provides a list of recommended email providers you can use. We have tested this repo successfully with Mailgun, but other providers in the recommended list should work equally well.

These are the environment variables you will need to set for production use:

SETTING_EXTERNAL_HOSThostname your users will use to connect to your Zulip server; leave empty to use onrender.com domain
SETTING_EMAIL_HOSTaddress of your SMTP provider (ex. smtp.mailgun.org)
SETTING_EMAIL_HOST_USERyour SMTP provider username (ex. postmaster@mg.example.com)
SECRETS_email_passwordyour SMTP provider password
SETTING_EMAIL_PORTport your SMTP provider uses to connect (ex. 587)
SETTING_EMAIL_USE_SSLset to True if SETTING_EMAIL_PORT is using SSL; False otherwise
SETTING_EMAIL_USE_TLSset to True if SETTING_EMAIL_PORT is using TLS; False otherwise

Third-party email providers support unencrypted and SSL/TLS-encrypted connections on multiple ports. SendGrid and Mailgun recommend the following settings:

KeyRecommended Value


Other environment variables you might change:

KeyDefault Values
QUEUE_WORKERS_MULTIPROCESSFalse sets Zulip to run in multithreaded mode, which is ideal for lower memory instances. Set to True if Zulip is run in a Pro instance or larger
ZULIP_AUTH_BACKENDSEmailAuthBackend supports email and password authentication, but Zulip also supports other authentication methods