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Poolside is a computational notebook system. It is designed for data analysis and visualization.

This software uses CouchDB as both a storage backend and a web server. A standalone Python HTTP server executes code and returns results, via AJAX.

Security Notes

The current security features on the evaluation server are chroot jails and resource limits. If you don't use the chroot jail, all security bets are off.

Warning: notebooks can access any kernel, but the client-side permissions should work properly.

You should configure CouchDB 1.1.0 to use SSL. Otherwise, plain text passwords and authentication cookies will be transmitted over the network.

The evaluation server checks CouchDB cookies via HTTP. I haven't figured out a way to make openssl work in the chroot jail. I'm having issues with /dev/urandom, and possibly other things.


To run this software, you will need the following packages:

Installation into CouchDB

Use CouchApp to initialize and update the files stored in CouchDB

cd poolside/notebook
couchapp push http://localhost:5984/database


couchapp push 'http://admin:password@localhost:5984/database'

Server Configuration

The JavaScript notebook frontend (in CouchDB) needs to know the eval server's address. This should be configured in CouchDB's local.ini file

_eval = {couch_httpd_proxy, handle_proxy_req, <<"http://localhost:8283">>}

where http://localhost:8283 can be replaced by the address at which your evaluation server is running.

Running the Standalone Server

Example call

cd poolside/standalone
sudo python run_server -p 8283 -c http://localhost:5984 -j

or, to skip CouchDB authentication and the chroot jail


You need to be root in order to create the chroot jail, but the server process drops privileges immediately after doing so.

Command Line Arguments

-c couch_server
 URL of a CouchDB server to use for authentication. If absent, all well-formed requests will be accepted.
-p port Port on which the evaluation server will listen.
-j jail Use a chroot jail (requires root privileges).

Accessing Notebooks

Finally, access the following URL in your JavaScript-enabled web browser


The last part of the URL (i.e., "test") is the name of notebook. Change it to create new notebooks.

Random Points

This project has had a number of different architectures, so its documentation may lag behind the actual code.

There's currently only one type of JavaScript visualization.