Vanilla is free community discussion forum.

Vanilla Free Forum Software

Open Source Community Discussion Forum and Knowledge Base

Vanilla is robust, enterprise level, customizable and branded forum software. Use social, ideation and Q&A features for customer engagement and build community.


Vanilla Forum is free, open source, customizable, standard-complaint internet discussion forum built in PHP using the Garden framework. Vanilla has an exceptionally lightweight foundation with various discretionary plugins, including chat, private messages, Who’s Online, and attachments.

It is the top of the line endeavor online community software today. It helps you to boost loyalty, increase sales, and improve client support with easy to use and prompt start online community forum.

Featuring a smooth client experience, profound integration to your current tools, adaptable customization to accommodate your branding, versatile knowledge bases, ultra-modern gamification, ideation, Q&A and more.

System Requirements

Vanilla Forums is PHP and MySQL / MariaDB. Strongly recommended requirements are following:

  • PHP version 7.2 or newer.
  • PHP extensions mbstring, cURL, GD, and PDO, MySQLi, OpenSSL.
  • MySQL version 5.7 or newer (or Percona/MariaDB equivalent).
  • Web server software (Nginx, Apache …).
  • SSL encryption.


Vanilla is robust customer-centric platform to build social bond, improve your product or service with feedback and surge trust with potential customers. It is fully featured community software with nice look and feel. Vital features include


Permit community individuals to submit and vote on ideas. Community supervisors can set defined stages and statuses. Individuals can comment on ideas and order or refine the ideas list.

Knowledge Base

Record the insight of both your community and your support team into a knowledge base. Let staff compose articles or repurpose community posts with the a click. Vanilla Knowledge lets you give a far and away superior self-service user experience.


Questions and answers is an incredible method to avoid support tickets, help clients with pre-sales questions and lift community collaboration.

Smooth Integration

Its integration workflows allow you to integrate, enhance functionality or share date with top-notch single sign-on and CRM applications such as Salesforce, Zendesk, Hootsuite, Mail Chimp, Github, Funnel, Wordpress and more.


Helpful for making a sub-community for a culture or product line. In contrast to categories, sub-communities can have their own landing page, settings and announcement messages. Individuals can easily explore starting with one sub-community then onto the next without losing their reputation points and ranks.

Other Features

  • Fully Branded
  • Mobile Ready
  • Developer Friendly
  • Reliable
  • Secure
  • Peer Moderation
  • Forums reputation
  • Forums Custom Badges
  • Reactions
  • Rewards and Ranks
  • Rank CSS
  • Simplified theming
  • CSS Hooks
  • Eliminate Spammers & Trolls
  • Warning System
  • Dismissible Messages
  • Vanilla Hub
  • Multi-language Support
  • Installation Instructions


Install Vanilla on Ubuntu having NGNIX

Create a document root directory where Vanilla Forum should reside in:

sudo mkdir -p /var/www/vanilla

Change ownership of the /var/www/vanilla directory to {your_user}:

sudo chown -R {your_user}:{your_user} /var/www/vanilla

Navigate to the document root directory:

cd /var/www/vanilla

Download the Vanilla Forum zip archive:


Extract and remove Vanilla zip archive:


Provide the appropriate ownership:

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/vanilla

Navigate to the folder where you uploaded Vanilla in your web browser and follow the instructions on the screen.

Installation using Docker

Vanilla docker only supports Mac OSX at the moment.

Clone vanilla/vanilla-docker into your project directory.

git clone

Clone vanilla/vanilla into your project directory.

git clone

You should have the following structure

├── vanilla
├── vanilla-docker
├── ...

Move into the vanilla directory.

cd vanilla

Run composer install which will install Vanilla’s dependencies.

Move up and over into the vanilla-docker directory.

cd ..
cd vanilla-docker

Run sudo ./ which will:

  • Add a self signed certificate *.vanilla.localhost to your keychain.
  • Safely update your /etc/hosts.
  • Add as a loopback IP address.
  • Create a docker volume named “datastorage” which will contain the database data.

Run docker-compose up –build (It will take a while the first time). You’ll know it worked if you see something like

Successfully built…
Successfully tagged…
Creating database ... done
Creating php-fpm ... done
Creating httpd ... done
Creating nginx ... done
Attaching to database, php-fpm, httpd, nginx
php-fpm | done.

dev.vanilla.localhost shows the Vanilla installer. Run the installer!

Run docker-compose up –build to start up the services

Well done! You have installed Vanilla successfully.