CyTube 3.0 Installation Guide

Calvin Montgomery edited this page Sep 3, 2016 · 28 revisions

This guide will walk you through installing and configuring CyTube on a Linux server. If you have questions, feel free to stop by IRC ( calzoneman is the developer behind CyTube, but nuclearace has a lot of experience with it and can answer most of your questions if cal isn't around.

Table of Contents

  1. Requirements
  2. Installation of prerequisites
  3. Installation of CyTube 3.0
  4. Configuration
  5. Running
  6. Maintenance
  7. Importing a CyTube 2.4.6 database


The officially supported platform for hosting a CyTube server is Linux. I recommend Debian 8 "Jessie", but Debian 7 "Wheezy" or newer versions of Ubuntu (14.04 LTS or newer) work as well. People have also run CyTube on Mac OS X, FreeBSD, and Solaris, although I don't test on these platforms so I cannot guarantee it will work. Windows is explicitly not supported.

CyTube is relatively lightweight in terms of CPU, memory, and bandwidth usage. However, due to the software used, it will not run on shared webhosting; it requires a VPS or dedicated server. I recommend at least 256MB RAM for a small server (this is for both CyTube and MySQL RAM usage). People have gotten by with less, but having sufficient RAM for MySQL to hold the database in memory will improve performance.

NOTE: while CyTube itself does not use much memory, npm will happily eat up gigabytes installing the dependencies. You may need to use alternative installers, or temporarily increase the memory for installation if using a virtual machine.

Also note that with the latest 3.0 revision, MySQL must be at least 5.5.3 to accommodate the use of the utf8mb4 character encoding. Some linux distros only have MySQL 5.1 available in the stock repos(CentOS 6 for example).

CyTube has a standalone webserver, so it is not necessary to use Apache or another webserver to serve content. You may use a 3rd party webserver in reverse proxy mode if you wish. runs nginx, which proxies back good requests to CyTube (and takes care of blocking bad requests and rate limiting before requests even reach CyTube). Configuring a reverse proxy is outside the scope of this guide.

For installation purposes I will assume you have full root access to the server, whether it be a virtual server or physical hardware. I do not support installing CyTube on shared hosting platforms such as OpenShift or Heroku.

Installation of prerequisites


Debian / Ubuntu

apt-get update && apt-get upgrade
apt-get install build-essential git python mysql-server


yum update
yum install git openssl-devel gcc-c++ mysql-server mysql mysql-devel mysql-libs

Please make sure that during the installation of MySQL, you choose a secure password for the root user.


For best results, use node.js 4.x (LTS) or 5.x (stable). v0.12.x and v0.10.x are no longer supported and will not run CyTube. Most Debian and Red Hat based distributions do not include a reasonably up to date version of node.js, so I recommend following the instructions on to install it from the third-party nodesource repo.

Installation of CyTube 3.0

User account

You should set up a user account that the CyTube process will run as. Don't use root. Just don't. You can use your user account, or add a new one (there are plenty of guides on how to add a new user on your favorite distribution).

Cloning from git

cd to the directory where you want your CyTube server. Execute the following command to download the code from the Git repository:

git clone -b 3.0

You can optionally specify a folder name after the repository URL to rename the folder something else instead of sync.

NPM dependencies

cd sync
npm install

npm performance

CyTube has a lot of dependencies, and some of them bring in very large dependency trees (for example, babel). For this reason, npm install may attempt to consume several gigabytes of RAM and fail when running out of memory, which leads to errors due to an incomplete installation. On systems with a small amount of RAM, you can try using an alternative installer like pnpm:

sudo npm install -g pnpm node-gyp
rm -rf node_modules
pnpm install

If this does not work, you can try using my janky little script that installs modules one at a time:



You will need to log in to your MySQL server as root to create a user and database for CyTube:

mysql -u root -p
GRANT USAGE ON *.* TO cytube3@localhost IDENTIFIED BY 'super_secure_password';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON cytube3.* TO cytube3@localhost;

Configuration File

NOTE: The configuration file is somewhat confusing and messy. This is a known issue that I'm planning to work on.

First, copy the template:

cp config.template.yaml config.yaml

Next, edit config.yaml with your favorite text editor. The template is well-commented with what most of the config keys are for, so I will omit explaining all of them in detail, but I would like to make a few general notes:

  • The server dynamically generates links as http://http.domain:http.port/path. If you want to override this, you can set http.full-address to the desired root. For example, runs on port 8080, but I want requests to go through nginx on port 80 rather than, so I have full-address: '' in the http block of my configuration.
  • http.root-domain has to do with the way cookies work. If your server will be accessible from multiple subdomains (e.g.,, then you must set the root domain to the common domain between them (e.g.
  • As a convention, keys called host specify an IP address to bind to (if your server has multiple IP addresses), and keys called domain specify the domain name (e.g.
  • Binding a port number below 1000 requires running the server as root. This is one of the reasons I use nginx as a reverse proxy.


Congratulations, your CyTube server is now configured! You can launch it with node index.js. On the first run, your server will initialize the database, log files, and channel data folders. You should be able to connect to your server on the port specified.

Once you have registered your first account, you can use the following commands to assign yourself site admin rights:

mysql -u cytube3 -p
UPDATE `users` SET global_rank=255 WHERE name='calzoneman';

Any rank >= 255 has site administrator permissions.


There are a few options for keeping the server running after you close your SSH session:

  • nohup node index.js &
  • screen
  • tmux
  • upstart

nohup, screen, and tmux are all available as packages on major distributions. upstart is available on Ubuntu 6.10 and later. I have also provided a simple script that will automatically restart the server if it crashes. On my server, I launch it as screen ./

Upstart Example

First, create the configuration file. The example below assumes you've cloned the repo to /home/ubuntu/sync. Change this directory as necessary.

cat > /etc/init/cytube.conf << EOF
description "CyTube"

start on (filesystem and net-device-up)
stop on runlevel [!2345]

setuid ubuntu

respawn limit 2 60

chdir /home/ubuntu/sync

  exec /home/ubuntu/sync/
end script

emits CyTube-running 

Next, start the service using upstart:

sudo service cytube start


Git updates

CyTube is actively developed and updates frequently to fix bugs and add new features. Git provides a convenient way for you to keep up with these updates. cd to the directory containing CyTube, and execute git pull to retrieve the latest code. As of September 2015, you must also run npm install, npm run postinstall, or npm run build-server to build the changes from src/ to lib/. After this, restart the server for the changes to take effect.


You should take frequent backups in case something happens to your server. The database and channel data can be backed up like so:

mysqldump --quick --skip-lock-tables -u cytube -psupersecretpassword cytube > my_database_backup.sql
tar cjf my_channels_backup.tar.bz2 chandump

Importing a CyTube 2.4.6 database

CyTube 3.0 uses a slightly different database format than previous versions. I have provided an import script which will copy data over to the new format.

First, create a new database for CyTube 3:

mysql -u root -p
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON cytube3.* TO cytube@localhost;

Next, run import.js:

node import.js | tee output.txt

The | tee output.txt saves all console output to a file so you can inspect it for errors if necessary. Enter the appropriate database details, and wait for the script to import. It will log everything it imports.

Copy the chandump folder from your old CyTube Directory to your CyTube 3 folder.

Once the import script has finished, you can begin using CyTube 3. Be sure to inspect for errors before you delete any data from your CyTube 2 database!