CKAN Documentation 2.1.5 documentation » Installing CKAN »

Installing CKAN from Source

This section describes how to install CKAN from source. Although Installing CKAN from Package 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.

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/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 DataStore Extension to create the required databases and users, set the right permissions and set the appropriate values in your CKAN config file.

9. You’re done!

You can now 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:

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

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

Now that you’ve installed CKAN, you should:

  • Run CKAN’s tests to make sure that everything’s working, see Testing CKAN.
  • If you want to use your CKAN site as a production site, not just for testing or development purposes, then deploy CKAN using a production web server such as Apache or Nginx. See Deploying a Source Install.
  • Begin using and customizing your site, see Getting Started.