CKAN Configuration

A CKAN instance is configured with the .ini file in the root ckan directory. The most important parameter to set is the sqlalchemy.url giving the database connection. But there are also several additional options to change the way the CKAN site operates.

On a production machine the file will be probably be named after the site name. e.g. On a development machine it is probably development.ini

On a new installation of ckan, you have to create a new config file from the template, something like this:

paster --plugin ckan make-config ckan

This creates based on the template for this file in ckan/config/deployment.ini_tmpl

There are several general Pylons options, and all the CKAN-specific ones are in the [app:main] section.

Once the config file is changed, Apache needs to be restarted to read in the new changes.



sqlalchemy.url = postgres://tester:[email protected]/ckantest3

This defines the database that CKAN is to use. The format is:

sqlalchemy.url = postgres://USERNAME:[email protected]/DBNAME



package_form = ca

Default value: standard

This sets the name of the form to use when editing a package. This can be a form defined in the core CKAN code or in another setuputils-managed python module. The only requirement is that the has an entrypoint for the form defined in the ckan.forms section. See Forms Using Templates



package_hide_extras = my_private_field other_field

Default value: (empty)

This sets a space-seperated list of extra field key values which will not be shown on the package read page. While this is useful to create internal notes etc., it is not a security measure in any way. The keys will still be available via the API and in revision diffs.



rdf_packages =

Configure this if you have an RDF store of the same packages as are in your CKAN instance. It will provide three sorts of links from each package page to the equivalent RDF URL given in rdf_packages:

  1. 303 redirects for clients that content-negotiate rdf-xml or turtle. e.g. client GETs with accept header application/rdf+xml curl -H "Accept: application/rdf+xml" CKAN’s response is a 303 redirect to which can be obtained with: curl -L -H "Accept: application/rdf+xml"
  2. Embedded links for browsers that are aware. e.g. <link rel=”alternate” type=”application/rdf+xml” href=””>
  3. A visible RDF link on the page. e.g. <a href=””>



ckan.cache_validation_enabled = False

Default value: True

This option determines whether browsers (or other caching services running between the browser and CKAN) are helped to cache particular CKAN pages, by validating when the page content hasn’t changed. This is achieved using ETags headers provided by CKAN, which is a hash that changes when the content has changed.

Developers editing the templates should set this to False, since Etags hashes don’t look for template changes.



ckan.cache_enabled = True

Default value: False

Setting this option to True turns on several server-side caches. When the caching is on, caching can be further configured as follows. (The key has been renamed from cache_enabled, which is deprecated, but still works ckan.cache_enabled for now.)

To set the type of Beaker storage:

beaker.cache.type = file

To set the expiry times (in seconds) for specific controllers (which use the proxy_cache) specifiy the methods like this:

ckan.controllers.package.list.expires = 600 = 600
ckan.controllers.apiv1.package.list.expires = 600 = 600
ckan.controllers.apiv2.package.list.expires = 600 = 600

There is also en option to set the max-age value of static files delivered by paster:

ckan.static_max_age = 3600



openid_enabled = False

Default value: True

Setting this option to Fase turns off openid for login.


A url pointing to a JSON file containing a list of license objects. This list determines the licenses offered by the system to users, for example when creating or editing a package.

This is entirely optional – by default the system will use the ckan list of licenses available in the Licenses package.

More details about the license objects including the license format and some example license lists can be found on the open license service at


licenses_group_url = file:///path/to/my/local/json-list-of-licenses.js
licenses_group_url =




Default value: en (English)

Use this to specify the language of the text displayed in the CKAN web UI. This requires a suitable mo file installed for the language. For more information on internationalization, see:




To customise the display of CKAN you can supply replacements for the Genshi template files. Use this option to specify where CKAN should look for them, before reverting to the ‘ckan/templates’ folder. You can supply more than one folder, separating the paths with a comma (,).

The example value for the extra_template_paths option could, for example, be used to override CKAN templates with these ones:

  • /home/okfn/brazil_ckan_config/templates/layout.html
  • /home/okfn/brazil_ckan_config/templates/package/edit.html

More details about this feature are found at:



extra_public_paths = /home/okfn/brazil_ckan_config/public

To customise the display of CKAN you can supply replacements for staticly served files such as HTML, CSS, script and PNG files. Use this option to specify where CKAN should look for them, before reverting to the ‘ckan/public’ folder. You can supply more than one folder, separating the paths with a comma (,).

The example value for the extra_public_paths option could, for example, be used to provide an image and stylesheet:

  • /home/okfn/brazil_ckan_config/public/images/brazil.png
  • /home/okfn/brazil_ckan_config/public/css/extra.css

More details about this feature are found at:

package_new_return_url & package_edit_return_url


package_new_return_url =<NAME>
package_edit_return_url =<NAME>

To allow the Edit Package and New Package forms to be integrated into a third party interface, setting these options allows you to set a the return address. So when the user has completed the form and presses ‘commit’, the user is redirected to the URL specified.

The ‘<NAME>’ string is replaced with the name of the package edited. Full details of this process are given in Form integration.




This is the messaging library backend to use. Options:

* ``pyamqplib`` - AMQP (e.g. for RabbitMQ)

* ``pika`` - alternative AMQP

* ``stomp`` - python-stomp

* ``queue`` - native Python Queue (default) - NB this doesn't work inter-process

See carrot documentation for details.

amqp_hostname, amqp_port, amqp_user_id, amqp_password



These are the setup parameters for AMQP messaging. These only apply if the messageing library has been set to use AMQP (see carrot_messaging_library). The values given in the example are the default values.



Default (if you don’t define it)::
indexing is on

This controls the operation of the CKAN Postgres full text search indexing. If you don’t define this option then indexing is on. You will want to turn this off if you want to use a different search engine for CKAN (e.g. SOLR). In this case you need to define the option equal to blank (as in the given example).



search_backend = solr

Default value: sql

This controls the type of search backend. Currently valid values are sql (meaning Postgres full text search) and solr. If you specify sql then ensure indexing is on (build_search_index_synchronously is not defined). If you specify solr then ensure you specify a solr_url.



solr_url =

This configures SOLR search, (if selected with ‘search_backend’_). Running solr will require a schema.xml file, such as the one in the ckan-solr-index repository.

Optionally, solr_user and solr_password can also be passed along to specify HTTP Basic authentication details for all solr requests.



ckan.site_title=Open Data Scotland

Default value: CKAN

This sets the name of the site, as displayed in the CKAN web interface.




Default value: (none)

This is for a description, or tag line for the site, as displayed in the header of the CKAN web interface.




Default value: (none)

The primary URL used by this site. Uses:

* in the API to provide packages with links to themselves in the web UI.




Default value: /api

The URL which resolves to the CKAN API part of the site. This is useful if the API is hosted on a different domain, for example when a third party site uses the forms API.


This allows you to set the default authorization roles (i.e. permissions) for new objects. Currently this extends to new packages, groups, authorization groups and the ‘system’ object. For full details of these, see CKAN Authorization and Access Control.

The value is a strict JSON dictionary of user names “visitor” and “logged_in” with lists of their roles.


ckan.default_roles.Package = {"visitor": ["editor"], "logged_in": ["editor"]}
ckan.default_roles.Group = {"visitor": ["reader"], "logged_in": ["reader"]}

With this example setting, visitors (any user who is not logged in) and logged in users can only read packages that get created (only sysadmins can edit).

Defaults: see in ckan/model/ for: default_default_user_roles



ckan.plugins = disqus synchronous_search datapreview googleanalytics stats storage admin follower

Specify which CKAN extensions are to be enabled. If you specify an extension but have not installed the code then CKAN will not start. Format in a space separated list of the extension names. The extension name is the key in the [ckan.plugins] section of the extension’s

dumps_url & dumps_format


ckan.dumps_url =
ckan.dumps_format = CSV/JSON

If there is a page which allows you to download a dump of the entire catalogue then specify the URL and the format here, so that it can be advertised in the web interface. The dumps_format is just a string for display.



ckan.log_dir = /var/log/ckan/

This is a directory where CKAN cron scripts (if there are any installed) should write log files to. Note: this setting is nothing to do with the main CKAN log file, whose filepath is set in the [handler_file] args.



ckan.dump_dir = /var/lib/ckan/dump/

This is a directory where JSON or CSV dumps of the database are to be written, assuming a script has been installed to do this. Note it is usual to setup the apache config to serve this directory.



ckan.backup_dir = /var/backup/ckan/

This is a directory where SQL database backups are to be written, assuming a script has been installed to do this.