CKAN Documentation 2.0.4 documentation »

Option 2: Install from Source

This section describes how to install CKAN from source. Although Option 1: Package Installation is simpler, it requires Ubuntu 12.04 64-bit. Installing CKAN from source works with other versions of Ubuntu and with other operating systems (e.g. RedHat, Fedora, CentOS, OS X). If you install CKAN from source on your own operating system, please share your experiences on our How to Install CKAN wiki page.

From source is also the right installation method for developers who want to work on CKAN.

If you run into problems, see Common error messages.

1. Install the required packages

If you’re using a Debian-based operating system (such as Ubuntu) install the required packages with this command:

sudo apt-get install python-dev postgresql libpq-dev python-pip python-virtualenv git-core solr-jetty openjdk-6-jdk

If you’re not using a Debian-based operating system, find the best way to install the following packages on your operating system (see our How to Install CKAN wiki page for help):

Package Description
Python The Python programming language, v2.6 or 2.7
PostgreSQL The PostgreSQL database system, v8.4 or newer
libpq The C programmer’s interface to PostgreSQL
pip A tool for installing and managing Python packages
virtualenv The virtual Python environment builder
Git A distributed version control system
Apache Solr A search platform
Jetty An HTTP server (used for Solr)
OpenJDK 6 JDK The Java Development Kit

2. Install CKAN into a Python virtual environment


If you’re installing CKAN for development and want it to be installed in your home directory, you can symlink the directories used in this documentation to your home directory. This way, you can copy-paste the example commands from this documentation without having to modify them, and still have CKAN installed in your home directory:

mkdir -p ~/ckan/lib
sudo ln -s ~/ckan/lib /usr/lib/ckan
mkdir -p ~/ckan/etc
sudo ln -s ~/ckan/etc /etc/ckan
  1. Create a Python virtual environment (virtualenv) to install CKAN into, and activate it:

    sudo mkdir -p /usr/lib/ckan/default
    sudo chown `whoami` /usr/lib/ckan/default
    virtualenv --no-site-packages /usr/lib/ckan/default
    . /usr/lib/ckan/default/bin/activate


The final command above activates your virtualenv. The virtualenv has to remain active for the rest of the installation and deployment process, or commands will fail. You can tell when the virtualenv is active because its name appears in front of your shell prompt, something like this:

(default) $ _

For example, if you logout and login again, or if you close your terminal window and open it again, your virtualenv will no longer be activated. You can always reactivate the virtualenv with this command:

. /usr/lib/ckan/default/bin/activate
  1. Install the CKAN source code into your virtualenv. To install the latest development version of CKAN (the most recent commit on the master branch of the CKAN git repository), run:

    pip install -e 'git+'

    Alternatively, to install a specific version such as CKAN 2.0 run:

    pip install -e 'git+'
  2. Install the Python modules that CKAN requires into your virtualenv:

    pip install -r /usr/lib/ckan/default/src/ckan/pip-requirements.txt
  3. Deactivate and reactivate your virtualenv, to make sure you’re using the virtualenv’s copies of commands like paster rather than any system-wide installed copies:

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

3. Setup a PostgreSQL database

List existing databases:

sudo -u postgres psql -l

Check that the encoding of databases is UTF8, if not internationalisation may be a problem. Since changing the encoding of PostgreSQL may mean deleting existing databases, it is suggested that this is fixed before continuing with the CKAN install.

Next you’ll need to create a database user if one doesn’t already exist. Create a new PostgreSQL database user called ckan_default, and enter a password for the user when prompted. You’ll need this password later:

sudo -u postgres createuser -S -D -R -P ckan_default

Create a new PostgreSQL database, called ckan_default, owned by the database user you just created:

sudo -u postgres createdb -O ckan_default ckan_default -E utf-8

4. Create a CKAN config file

Create a directory to contain the site’s config files:

sudo mkdir -p /etc/ckan/default
sudo chown -R `whoami` /etc/ckan/

Change to the ckan directory and create a CKAN config file:

cd /usr/lib/ckan/default/src/ckan
paster make-config ckan /etc/ckan/default/development.ini

Edit the development.ini file in a text editor, changing the following options:


This should refer to the database we created in 3. Setup a PostgreSQL database above:

sqlalchemy.url = postgresql://ckan_default:pass@localhost/ckan_default

Replace pass with the password that you created in 3. Setup a PostgreSQL database above.


If you’re using a remote host with password authentication rather than SSL authentication, use:

sqlalchemy.url = postgresql://ckan_default:pass@<remotehost>/ckan_default?sslmode=disable

Each CKAN site should have a unique site_id, for example:

ckan.site_id = default

5. Setup Solr

Follow the instructions in Single Solr instance or Multiple Solr cores to setup Solr, then change the solr_url option in your CKAN config file to point to your Solr server, for example:


6. Create database tables

Now that you have a configuration file that has the correct settings for your database, you can create the database tables:

cd /usr/lib/ckan/default/src/ckan
paster db init -c /etc/ckan/default/development.ini

You should see Initialising DB: SUCCESS.


If the command prompts for a password it is likely you haven’t set up the sqlalchemy.url option in your CKAN configuration file properly. See 4. Create a CKAN config file.

7. Set up the DataStore


Setting up the DataStore is optional. However, if you do skip this step, the DataStore features will not be available and the DataStore tests will fail.

Follow the instructions in Setting up the DataStore to create the required databases and users, set the right permissions and set the appropriate values in your CKAN config file.

9. Run CKAN in the development web server

You can use the Paste development server to serve CKAN from the command-line. This is a simple and lightweight way to serve CKAN that is useful for development and testing. For production it’s better to serve CKAN using Apache or Nginx (see Post-Installation Setup).

cd /usr/lib/ckan/default/src/ckan
paster serve /etc/ckan/default/development.ini

Open in your web browser, and you should see the CKAN front page.

10. Run the CKAN Tests

Now that you’ve installed CKAN, you should run CKAN’s tests to make sure that they all pass. See Testing for Developers.

11. You’re done!

You can now proceed to Post-Installation Setup which covers creating a CKAN sysadmin account and deploying CKAN with Apache.

Upgrade a source install


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 CKAN Changelog to see if there are any extra notes to be aware of when upgrading to the new version.

  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 using the ckan db dump command, for example:

    paster db dump --config=/etc/ckan/default/development.ini my_ckan_database.pg_dump

    This will create a file called my_ckan_database.pg_dump, if something goes wrong with the CKAN upgrade you can use this file to restore the database to its pre-upgrade state. See Dumping and Loading databases to/from a file for details of the ckan db dump and ckan db load commands.

  3. Checkout the new CKAN version from git, for example:

    git fetch
    git checkout release-v2.0

    If you have any CKAN extensions installed from source, you may need to checkout newer versions of the extensions at this point as well. Refer to the documentation for each extension.

  4. Update CKAN’s dependencies:

    pip install --upgrade -r pip-requirements.txt
  5. If you are upgrading to a new major version of CKAN (for example if you are upgrading to CKAN 2.0, 2.1 etc.), then you need to update your Solr schema symlink.

    When Setting up Solr you created a symlink /etc/solr/conf/schema.xml linking to a CKAN Solr schema file such as /usr/lib/ckan/default/src/ckan/ckan/config/solr/schema-2.0.xml. This symlink should be updated to point to the latest schema file in /usr/lib/ckan/default/src/ckan/ckan/config/solr/, if it doesn’t already.

    For example, to update the symlink:

    sudo rm /etc/solr/conf/schema.xml
    sudo ln -s /usr/lib/ckan/default/src/ckan/ckan/config/solr/schema-2.0.xml /etc/solr/conf/schema.xml
  6. If you are upgrading to a new major version of CKAN (for example if you are upgrading to CKAN 2.0, 2.1 etc.), update your CKAN database’s schema using the ckan db upgrade command.


    To avoid problems during the database upgrade, comment out any plugins that you have enabled in your ini file. You can uncomment them again when the upgrade finishes.

    For example:

    paster db upgrade --config=/etc/ckan/default/development.ini

    See Upgrade migration for details of the ckan db upgrade command.

  7. Rebuild your search index by running the ckan search-index rebuild command:

    paster search-index rebuild -r --config=/etc/ckan/default/development.ini

    See search-index: Rebuild search index for details of the ckan search-index rebuild command.

  8. Finally, restart your web server. For example if you have deployed CKAN using the Apache web server on Ubuntu linux, run this command:

    sudo service apache2 reload
  9. You’re done! You should now be able to visit your CKAN website in your web browser and see that it’s running the new version of CKAN.