How to host a Focalboard server for remote project management

Learn how to create and customize a Focalboard server on Windows, macOS, and Linux using Meshnet.


Using productivity tools, such as the open-source project Focalboard, can be very beneficial. These types of tools provide a centralized platform for organizing and managing tasks and projects, making it easier to stay on track.

Focalboard has an intuitive design and is highly customizable. This control allows you to make a board that is specific to your needs. In addition, Focalboard includes many features and integrations with other platforms, such as Jira, which enhances workflow efficiency even further.

However, hosting such a solution can oftentimes be expensive, since you need to pay for a server, domain name, and take care of website security. All of these problems can be overcome by self-hosting the Focalboard server and using Meshnet for secure remote access. Meshnet allows you to work on joint projects in a private, encrypted network, meaning that your data is secure from unwanted outside connections.

This article contains instructions on how to host a Focalboard server using Docker and how you can invite your peers to the server.

Before you begin

Since the Focalboard server will be deployed using Docker, you must have Docker installed on your device. Instructions on how to download and install Docker can be found on the Docker website:

Deploy Focalboard in a Docker container

With Docker installed on your system, you can proceed with creating and deploying your Focalboard server as a Docker container.

  1. Open Command Prompt (on Windows) or Terminal (on Linux or macOS).

  2. Run the following docker run command:

    docker run -dit --name focalboard -p 80:8000 --restart always mattermost/focalboard

Docker will pull the Focalboard image from Docker Hub and deploy the container.

Set up your Focalboard account

To use and control your Focalboard, you need to connect to its web interface. By default, the interface listens on port 80 (unless configured differently in the docker run command).

  1. Open your internet browser.

  2. In the URL field, enter localhost/register and press Enter to open the account creation screen.

  3. Type in your email, username, and password.

  4. Click Register.

Upon registering, you will be redirected to the main Focalboard page. From this page, you can use templates or create your personal boards from scratch.

For additional guidelines on how to configure your boards, refer to the Focalboard documentation.

Invite your Meshnet peers

Due to Focalboard’s design, only the first user account can be created by accessing the web interface directly. All subsequent users must receive invitation links. To send an invitation:

  1. Open your Focalboard web interface.

  2. Click the Focalboard icon in the upper-left corner.

  3. Before sending the link, change the localhost part to the Nord name of your Focalboard server. Example http://secret.meerkat-himalayas.nord/register?t=kujqes9o1fjyo9kthgdnzuaa4xw

After opening the link, your peers need to fill in the registration details to create an account.

Access Focalboard over Meshnet

To access the Focalboard server using Meshnet follow these steps:

  1. Copy the Nord name of the Focalboard server directly from the NordVPN app.

  2. Open your internet browser.

  3. Paste the copied Nord name followed by a slash (/) to the URL field and press Enter. Example secret.meerkat-himalayas.nord/

  4. Enter your account details and click Log in.

Now you can access the Focalboard server from any device, using any network around the world.

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