Getting started

Once you’ve finished installing CKAN, this section will walk you through getting started with your new CKAN website, including creating a CKAN sysadmin user, some test data, and the basics of configuring your CKAN site.

Creating a sysadmin user

You have to use CKAN’s command line interface to create your first sysadmin user, and it can also be useful to create some test data from the command line. For full documentation of CKAN’s command line interface (including troubleshooting) see Command Line Interface (CLI).


CKAN commands are executed using the ckan command on the server that CKAN is installed on. Before running the ckan commands below, you need to make sure that your virtualenv is activated and that you’re in your ckan source directory. For example:

. /usr/lib/ckan/default/bin/activate
cd /usr/lib/ckan/default/src/ckan

You have to create your first CKAN sysadmin user from the command line. For example, to create a new user called seanh and make him a sysadmin:

ckan -c /etc/ckan/default/ckan.ini sysadmin add seanh email=seanh@localhost name=seanh

You’ll be prompted to enter a password during account creation.

Or, if you already have an existing user, you could promote him to a sysadmin:

ckan -c /etc/ckan/default/ckan.ini sysadmin add seanh

For a list of other command line commands for managing sysadmins, run:

ckan -c /etc/ckan/default/ckan.ini sysadmin --help

Read the Sysadmin guide to learn what you can do as a CKAN sysadmin.

Creating test data

It can be handy to have some test data to start with, to quickly check that everything works. You can add a random set of test data to your site from the command line with the following generate fake-data commands:

ckan -c /etc/ckan/default/ckan.ini generate fake-data organization
# check the output and save the ID of organization into variable:
owner_org=<Organization ID from the previous command>

ckan -c /etc/ckan/default/ckan.ini generate fake-data dataset --owner_org=$owner_org

If you later want to delete this test data and start again with an empty database, you can use the db clean command.

For a short description of this subcommand, run:

ckan -c /etc/ckan/default/ckan.ini generate fake-data --help

Config file

All of the options that can be set in the admin page and many more can be set by editing CKAN’s config file. By default, from CKAN 2.9 the config file is located at /etc/ckan/default/ckan.ini. (For older versions, the config file is located at /etc/ckan/default/development.ini or /etc/ckan/default/production.ini). The config file can be edited in any text editor. For example, to change the title of your site you would find the ckan.site_title line in your config file and edit it:

ckan.site_title = Masaq Data Hub

Make sure the line is not commented-out (lines in the config file that begin with # are considered comments, so if there’s a # at the start of a line you’ve edited, delete it), save the file, and then restart your web server for the changes to take effect. For example, if using a CKAN package install:

sudo supervisorctl restart ckan-uwsgi:*

For full documentation of CKAN’s config file and all the options you can set, see Configuration Options.


If the same option is set in both the config file and in the admin page, the admin page setting takes precedence. You can use the Reset button on the admin page to clear your settings, and allow settings from the config file to take effect.