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This repository contains the source code of the Freesound website.

Freesound is a project by the Music Technology Group (MTG), Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF).

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All the source code in this repository is licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License v3. Some dependencies might have their own licenses. See the ACKNOWLEDGMENTS file for more details.


For a list of authors, please check out the contributors page.


Freesound is composed of a number of different services which can be run and orchestrated using Docker. The main service is provided by the web container which runs the Freesound Django application. Check out this blog post for some information about the Freesound technology stack. If you're going to do development on Freesound, please check the DEVELOPERS file for some guidelines.

Below are instructions for setting up a local Freesound installation for development. It is assumed that you have a working Docker installation. Note that these instructions have on been tested on Linux and macOS, but might not work on Windows.

Setting up Freesound for development in 13 easy steps

  1. Clone source code repository

    git clone
    cd freesound
  2. Create a directory named freesound-data inside the repository folder

    mkdir freesound-data
  3. Download the Freesound development data zip file (~7GB) and uncompress it inside freesound-data. You should get permission to download this file from Freesound admins. File structure should look like this:

  4. Download Freesound development similarity index and the Freesound tag recommendation models and place their contents under freesound-data/similarity_index/ and freesound-data/tag_recommendation_models directories respectively (you'll need to create the directories). You should get permission to download these files from Freesound admins.

  5. Rename freesound/ file, so you can customise Django settings if needed and create a .env file with your local user UID and other useful settings. These other settings include COMPOSE_PROJECT_NAME and LOCAL_PORT_PREFIX which can be used to allow parallel local installations running on the same machine (provided that these to variables are different in the local installations), and FS_BIND_HOST which you should set to if you need to access your local Freesound services from a remote machine.

    cp freesound/ freesound/
    echo FS_USER_ID=$(id -u) > .env
    echo COMPOSE_PROJECT_NAME=freesound >> .env
    echo LOCAL_PORT_PREFIX= >> .env
    echo FS_BIND_HOST= >> .env
  6. [Optional] Create API credentials for the 3rd party services listed below and add them to your own freesound/ file (check to know the config parameter names that you need to fill in):

    • Mapbox
    • Recaptcha
  7. Build the base Freesound Docker image

    make -C docker
  8. Build all Docker containers. The first time you run this command can take a while as a number of Docker images need to be downloaded and things need to be installed and compiled.

    docker compose build
  9. Download the Freesound development database dump (~6MB), uncompress it and place the resulting freesound-small-dev-dump-2023-09.sql in the freesound-data/db_dev_dump/ directory. Then run the database container and load the data into it using the commands below. You should get permission to download this file from Freesound admins.

    docker compose up -d db
    docker compose run --rm db psql -h db -U freesound  -d freesound -f freesound-data/db_dev_dump/freesound-small-dev-dump-2023-09.sql
    # or if the above command does not work, try this one 
    docker compose run --rm --no-TTY db psql -h db -U freesound -d freesound < freesound-data/db_dev_dump/freesound-small-dev-dump-2023-09.sql
  10. Update database by running Django migrations

    docker compose run --rm web python migrate
  11. Create a superuser account to be able to log in to the local Freesound website and to the admin site

    docker compose run --rm web python createsuperuser
  12. Install static build dependencies

    docker compose run --rm web npm install --force
  13. Build static files. Note that this step will need to be re-run every time there are changes in Freesound's static code (JS, CSS and static media files).

    docker compose run --rm web npm run build
    docker compose run --rm web python collectstatic --noinput
  14. Run services 🎉

    docker compose up

    When running this command, the most important services that make Freesound work will be run locally. This includes the web application and database, but also the search engine, cache manager, queue manager and asynchronous workers, including audio processing. You should be able to point your browser to http://localhost:8000 and see the Freesound website up and running!

  15. Build the search index, so you can search for sounds and forum posts

    # Open a new terminal window so the services started in the previous step keep running
    docker compose run --rm web python reindex_search_engine_sounds
    docker compose run --rm web python reindex_search_engine_forum

    After following the steps, you'll have a functional Freesound installation up and running, with the most relevant services properly configured. You can run Django's shell plus command like this:

    docker compose run --rm web python shell_plus

    Because the web container mounts a named volume for the home folder of the user running the shell plus process, command history should be kept between container runs :)

  16. (extra step) The steps above will get Freesound running, but to save resources in your local machine some non-essential services will not be started by default. If you look at the docker-compose.yml file, you'll see that some services are marked with the profile analyzers or all. These services include sound similarity, search results clustering and the audio analyzers. To run these services you need to explicitly tell docker compose using the --profile (note that some services need additional configuration steps (see Freesound analysis pipeline section in

    docker compose --profile analyzers up   # To run all basic services + sound analyzers
    docker compose --profile all up         # To run all services

Running tests

You can run tests using the Django test runner in the web container like that:

docker compose run --rm web python test --settings=freesound.test_settings