Private chat and messaging server with Raspberry Pi and Rocket.chat

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Internet world is plenty of free messaging services. Apps like Whatsapp and Viber are part of our daily life and are the most common communication way with relatives and friends. But security awareness is increasing the wish to chat in a really private way. Furthermore, messaging apps increase space used in our devices, so an alternative chat channel could be useful to share media, info and contacts with our friends.

Today we are going to see how to install a private chat and messaging server with a Raspberry Pi and Rocket.chat

What Is Rocket.Chat

Rocket.chat is an Open Source solution able to provide an enhanced chat service. It includes collaboration tools like media sharing, screen sharing and video/audio calls support.

It can be used both via browser or from apps available in all the main app stores (Google Play, App Store, etc).

Beside the community version, it offers also an Enterprise and a Professional versions (including support and additional features).

What We Need

For this project, I’m going to use a cheaper Raspberry Pi 3 model A+. So, also RPI 3 model B, B+ and RPI 4 model B should work in the same way.

I also suggest a performing SD card, because Rocket.Chat can give a lot of work to our Raspberry Pi. As discussed in other articles, performing SD card strongly improves Raspbian OS performances.

We’ll use a lite version of Raspbian with preconfigured WiFi access and SSH service, so there will no need of keyboards / HDMI cables.

Step-By-Step Procedure

Start installing the last version of Raspbian Buster Lite.

We’ll simplify Rocket.Chat installation by using Snap. Login via SSH and type from terminaly:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Install Snap:

sudo apt-get install snapd

For snap installation, we need a system reboot to make it work:

sudo reboot

Login again via SSH and install Rocket.Chat server with the simple command:

sudo snap install rocketchat-server

After installation end from terminal, please wait a while for Rocket.Chat to inizialize database and services. Take a cup of tea and after a few minutes you should be able to reach with your browser the address http://<<YOUR_RPI_IP_ADDRESS>>:3000 and you should see the following:

Rocket chat setup wizard

Compile required forms and everything should go fine. After 4 simple setup windows you should reach Rocket.Chat home page:

Rocket chat home

Enjoy