Upgrading CKAN

This document describes the different types of CKAN release, and explains how to upgrade a site to a newer version of CKAN.

See also

The changelog lists all CKAN releases and the main changes introduced in each release.
Doing a CKAN release
Documentation of the process that the CKAN developers follow to do a CKAN release.

CKAN releases

CKAN follows a predictable release cycle so that users can depend on stable releases of CKAN, and can plan their upgrades to new releases.

Each release has a version number of the form M.m (eg. 2.1) or M.m.p (eg. 1.8.2), where M is the major version, m is the minor version and p is the patch version number. There are three types of release:

Major Releases
Major releases, such as CKAN 1.0 and CKAN 2.0, increment the major version number. These releases contain major changes in the CKAN code base, with significant refactorings and breaking changes, for instance in the API or the templates. These releases are very infrequent.
Minor Releases
Minor releases, such as CKAN 1.8 and CKAN 2.1, increment the minor version number. These releases are not as disruptive as major releases, but backwards-incompatible changes may be introduced in minor releases. The Changelog will document any breaking changes. We aim to release a minor version of CKAN roughly every three months.
Patch Releases

Patch releases, such as CKAN 1.8.1 or CKAN 2.0.1, increment the patch version number. These releases do not break backwards-compatibility, they include only bug fixes and security fixes, ensured to be non-breaking. Patch releases do not contain:

  • Database schema changes or migrations
  • Function interface changes
  • Plugin interface changes
  • New dependencies (unless absolutely necessary)
  • Big refactorings or new features in critical parts of the code


Users should always run the latest patch release for the minor release they are on, as patch releases contain important bug fixes and security updates. Because patch releases don’t include backwards incompatible changes, the upgrade process (as described in Upgrading a CKAN 2 package install to a new patch release) should be straightforward.

Outdated patch releases will no longer be supported after a newer patch release has been released. For example once CKAN 2.0.2 has been released, CKAN 2.0.1 will no longer be supported.

Releases are announced on the ckan-announce mailing list, a low-volume list that CKAN instance maintainers can subscribe to in order to be up to date with upcoming releases.

Upgrading CKAN

This section will walk you through the steps to upgrade your CKAN site to a newer version of CKAN.


Before upgrading your version of CKAN you should check that any custom templates or extensions you’re using work with the new version of CKAN. For example, you could install the new version of CKAN in a new virtual environment and use that to test your templates and extensions.


You should also read the Changelog to see if there are any extra notes to be aware of when upgrading to the new version.

1. Backup your database

You should always backup your CKAN database before upgrading CKAN. If something goes wrong with the CKAN upgrade you can use the backup to restore the database to its pre-upgrade state.

  1. Activate your virtualenv and switch to the ckan source directory, e.g.:

    . /usr/lib/ckan/default/bin/activate
    cd /usr/lib/ckan/default/src/ckan
  2. Backup your CKAN database

2. Upgrade CKAN

The process of upgrading CKAN differs depending on whether you have a package install or a source install of CKAN, and whether you’re upgrading to a major, minor or patch release of CKAN. Follow the appropriate one of these documents: